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At last the pro peloton has kicked into action in the Étoile de Bessèges, report, results and video from stage 1. Plus the Australian time trial championships. The UCI looking at a rearranged 2021 calendar – TOP STORY. Covid stops Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise riding in Bessèges and UCI happy with glucocorticoids ban. Rider news: Tao Geoghegan Hart for the Tour, Nairo Quintana return, Tour for Laurens De Plus, Victor Campenaerts to the Flemish weekend, Quinn Simmons debuts in Flanders and Roubaix, Jonas Rickaert postpones season and Fabio Jakobsen back soon. Race news: Tirreno-Adriatico route, Amstel Gold Race on a circuit, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne route, Vuelta a Madrid canceled, French Champs in Épinal and Bingoal Cycling Cup calendar. Team news: UAE Team Emirates extends with Campagnolo and DSM extends with Casper Pedersen. Sad news of the passing of World Champions Bunki Bankaitis-Davis and Ryszard Szurkowski.

top story
TOP STORY: UCI chairman Lappartient thinking about a new calendar
UCI chairman David Lappartient is waiting a while before rearranging the road calendar. Certain races have already been canceled and hope for a new date in May, such as the Volta ao Algarve, Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Ruta del Sol. “Everyone looks at the calendar as if they are alone, and almost everyone makes the same choice,” David Lappartient told DirectVélo.

The president of the UCI wants to postpone this rearrangement. “Then you will have weeks with five or six races in a week. We first wait for the month of March to see which races will really be canceled. Then we decide on a reorganisation of the calendar,” he said. The priority is on the WorldTour races, just like last year.

“We have taken the position that everything that can be ridden is ridden,” says Lappartient. “The road season had to start. In February we have several races in France, and also in Spain and the UAE Tour is being raced. But it is clear that we are watching closely what happens. I have weekly consultations with the UCI road committee and also every two weeks with the CPA, AIGCP and AIOCC.”

“Apart from the United Arab Emirates, travel movements outside Europe will be limited,” said the UCI president. “Most races will be held in Europe. Some countries are almost completely in lockdown, other countries have strict rules. In Belgium we can race behind closed doors. I was at the Tour of Flanders and that worked very well. So actually the Belgian races are not up for discussion.”

According to Lappartient, 2021 cannot be compared to 2020, when the entire calendar was shut down from March to August. “Some events still want to continue, so it will be necessary to move them on our full calendar. It is possible to create blocks with multiple races in the same country, in a certain period. Like we did in Italy last year.”

There are also problems in the summer, as organisers don’t like to be scheduled right before the Tour de France and the Olympics. Despite this, Lappartient is optimistic. “I hope that the Tour de France will be the start of a new life. The first half of the year will be difficult. Most countries are engaged in a difficult vaccination campaign and it will also be necessary to closely monitor the evolution of variants.

David Lappartient, waiting…
David Lappartient talking to Larry Warbasse

 

besseges
Étoile de Bessèges 2021
Christophe Laporte won the opening Stage 1 of the Étoile de Bessèges on Wednesday. On the slightly downhill final kilometre in Bellegarde, the Cofidis rider was the only one who could answer a long sprint sprint from Nacer Bouhanni.

Stage 1 was 143.6 kilometres, which started and finished in the village of Bellegarde – southeast of the city of Nîmes. The route covered two 50 kilometre circuits north, then a 40 kilometre circuit south. The finish was after the climb of the Côte de la Tour, a Cat 2 climb. Last year this stage was split by echelons. Before the start it was announced that Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise would not start due to a suspected corona infection.

Three riders managed to break away from the peloton early on. The neo-pros Tom Paquot of Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles and Alexandre Delettre (Delko) got together with Louis Louvet (St Michel-Auber93) and were able to take an 8 minute lead. AG2R Citroën and BORA-hansgrohe worked hard to bring the lead down gradually. The first time through Bellegarde, after 50 kilometres, the lead was down to 6 minutes. After a further 50 kilometres the lead was only a minute and the riders had the final climb of the Côte de la Tour to go.

Despite their small lead, the three escapees fought for the KOM jersey. Paquot and Delettre jumped early and the climb was eventually won by Delko’s rider. The peloton kept the leading group within range for a long time, but with 10 kilometres to go the breakaway was caught. Kern Pharma and Total Direct Energie led the peloton into the finalé. There was the inevitable crashes. At 6 kilometres from the finish, several riders crashed, including Felix Großschartner, this caused a split in the peloton. Alberto Bettiol and Alexys Brunel, last year’s second and third overall, were also held up. Lotto Soudal and Trek-Segafredo brought the lead group to the finish. Nacer Bouhanni opened the sprint from afar, but Christophe Laporte was able to counter and take the stage victory. Behind Laporte and Bouhanni; Mads Pedersen finished in third place, ahead of European champion Giacomo Nizzolo, Michał Kwiatkowski and the young Belgian Jordi Meeus.

laporte

Stage winner and overall leader, Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): “2020 was not an easy year. Now I was very motivated all winter long, I had no problems and I knew that my form was good. I knew I had to be in the right position at the base of the final climb. I expected an attack and then had to go along. Fortunately, that worked. I also took some bonus seconds for the overall. Tomorrow is a sprint finish that I already managed to win once, but this time the level is a lot higher. In view of the closing time trial on Sunday, we want to go for bonuses again. I am very happy that I was able to start the season well for the team. This gives a lot of confidence. We want to maintain the momentum now.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic): “I knew that the final climb of the Côte de la Tour was more for puncheurs than sprinters, but I still wanted to test myself. There was a lot of movement at the foot of the climb. As soon as there was an opening, I attacked. I made a long final sprint to force a difference. It was an enormous effort on the steepest part of the climb. I know that if I’m in shape, I can show myself on such a finish. It was my first race of the season. I am satisfied with my form and I know that there will certainly still be opportunities for sprinters in this edition of the Étoile de Bessèges. I also want to thank my teammates. They worked very hard for me throughout the race.”

4th on the stage and overall, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo): “I feel good, I definitely didn’t think that I would have such good legs because of the preparation but in the end I was well-placed and I maybe spent a little bit too much to get in place at the bottom of the climb. I didn’t have the confidence to go too early but in the end I managed to be top-five and I’m looking forward now to the coming days.”

10th on the stage and overall, Danny Van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “We had a clear plan at the start, and it was carried out perfectly by the boys. I am therefore very satisfied with our first race together. Adopting the automatisms is usually a long process, but here it went very well from the first attempt and I am proud of that. Also, I consider this top 10 against such a strong field of competitors to be a nice bonus. I had to dig deep for it, because the finish was intense and quite difficult. Tomorrow promises to have good weather and a sprint finish, I look forward to it!”

15th on the stage, Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën): “It was okay. It was a difficult arrival to position yourself. I was too far and that was important after all. I tried, but unfortunately I was not in the right position. If I had been there, I could have done something, but now I was a bit closed in on the climb. It was a good try for the team and I think we have worked well. We may have lost some energy, but it was definitely a good workout in the end. Hopefully we can continue this line in the coming days.”

Étoile de Bessèges Stage 1 Result:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 3:14:32
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
3. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 0:02
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka Assos
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
6. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
9. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
10. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Étoile de Bessèges Overall After Stage 1:
1. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis in 3:14:22
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 0:04
3. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 0:08
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka Assos at 0:12
5. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
6. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
9. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
10. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.

Bessèges’21 Stage 1:

 


Australian Men’s Time Trial Championship 2021
Luke Plapp was crowned 2021 Australian time trial champion on Wednesday. The 20-year-old rider from Melbourne was a good minute faster than four-time champion Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange) on the course in Ballarat.

Plapp recently won the second stage of the Santos Festival of Cycling. In the alternative Tour Down Under he came second in the final classification behind Luke Durbridge. The latter seemed to be the favourite, especially given his reputation for racing against the clock. But Plapp put an end to Durbridge’s title aspirations. He set a time of 45:40 and he was one minute and two seconds faster than the WorldTour pro. Later, Plapp’s time was also corrected: he was given a twenty-second time penalty because his support car did not keep enough distance.

Kelland O’Brien beat Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma) for the bronze medal, well behind Plapp.

Australian Men’s Time Trial Championship Result:
1. Luke Plapp (Aus) in 46:00
2. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange at 0:43
3. Kelland O’Brien (Aus) at 1:11
4. Chris Harper (Aus) Jumbo-Visma at 1:28
5. Lucas Hamilton (Aus) Team BikeExchange at 3:01
6. Alastair Christie-Johnston (Aus) Team BridgeLane at 3:27
7. Kane Richards (Aus) MEIYO CCN Pro Cycling Team at 3:44
8. Jordan Villani (Aus) at 3:47
9. Angus Lyons (Aus) ACA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast at 4:03
10. Matt Burton (Aus) at 4:08.

Luke Plapp:
plapp

 


Australian Women’s Time Trial Championship 2021
Sarah Gigante (Tibco-SVB) become Australian time trial champion for the second consecutive time. In Ballarat the 20-year-old top talent was too fast for Grace Brown (Team BikeExchange).

A duel between Gigante and Brown was always expected. The difference to the third placed Nicole Frain was almost four minutes to Gigante, who rode at an average of more than 42 kilometres per hour. More than two minutes faster than a year earlier. Gigante was 17 seconds faster at the finish than Brown, last year’s winner of the Brabantse Pijl. For the young Gigante it is her second Australian time trial title in a row. She also won the road title in 2019. She recently won the Santos Festival of Cycling.

Australian Women’s Time Trial Championship Result:
1. Sarah Gigante (Aus) Team TIBCO-SVB in 40:41
2. Grace Brown (Aus) Team BikeExchange at 0:17
3. Nicole Frain (Aus) at 3:58
4. Danielle de Francesco (Aus) at 4:06
5. Alana Forster (Aus) AWOL O’Shea at 4:07
6. Lisa Jacob (Aus) at 4:09
7. Jennifer Pettenon (Aus) at 4:20
8. Emily Watts (Aus)
9. Anya Louw (Aus) at 4:45
10. Amber Pate (Aus) at 4:46.

Sarah Gigante:
gigante

 

sport vlaanderen baloise
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise Didn’t Start the Étoile de Bessèges
No Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise team in the Étoile de Bessèges. The team announced via a press release that they had decided not to start in the five-day stage race due to a suspected corona infection.

One of the staff members is suspected of having covid-19. Pending the results of the PCR tests, it was “cautiously decided not to start in the interest of the sport, the organisers and the other participants,” the team said in their statement.

Linday De Vilder, Rune Herregodts, Jens Reynders, Fabio Van den Bossche, Kenneth Van Rooy, Sasha Weemaes and Thimo Willems should have been on the start line of the French 2.1 race.

Fabio Van Den Bossche (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) should have been in Bessèges:
de panne

 

uci
UCI Welcomes New Rules on Glucocorticoids
The UCI welcomes the decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to ban the use of glucocorticoids in competition, regardless of the injection method. The new rules will take effect from 2022.

The use of glucocorticoids is already prohibited in competition when the drug is swallowed, administered into a vein or muscle, or introduced through the anus. The decision of WADA now leads to a total ban on injecting the drug, which will take effect on January 1, 2022. The UCI already asked WADA in 2017 for these rules to prevent the misuse of the drug.

“The decision to widen the ban on glucocorticoids in competition is another step forward in protecting the health of athletes, especially cyclists,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “Following the ban on tramadol in competition and the introduction of a concussion protocol, this is a new advance for the well-being of elite athletes.”

doping sign

 

ineos grenadier
Tao Geoghegan Hart Prefers Tour de France to Giro d’Italia
Tao Geoghegan Hart will not defend his 2020 win in the Giro d’Italia. The British cyclist said in conversation with The Telegraph that he is focusing on the Tour de France this year, with the Olympic Games also on his list.

“I like races in Italy. The Giro was a great experience and of course it would be great to return with number one on my jersey.” But he want’s to ride the French Grand Tour. “I want to focus on something new. And yes, the Tour is the biggest race in cycling.”

Geoghegan Hart thinks he can compete for the yellow jersey in his first Tour de France. “Races of three weeks suit me. Especially that last week, as I showed in the Giro. With that race in mind, it gives me confidence to dream of the Tour.”

“That doesn’t have to be this year yet,” Hart emphasises. “I am 25 years old and I have never ridden the Tour. Yes, we have seen two guys in the last few years who won the Tour on their first or second participation, but I think it is also valuable to go there with an eye to the future.”

Hart also has his eye on the Olympic Games. “I would like to be there. I grew up within British Cycling, so the Games have always been a big goal for me. We have a very strong team, even if we are only four and other countries have an extra rider.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart for the Tour:
hart

 

arkea
Nairo Quintana to Return in the Tour des Alpes et du Var
Nairo Quintana was struggling after a crash in the Tour de France with a nasty knee injury, but is now almost fit for competition again. The Arkéa-Samsic rider will pin on a race number in the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, 19-21 February.

The 30-year-old Quintana, who will not defend his win in the Tour de La Provence, but will ride the Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya after the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. The climber also hopes to be at the start of the Giro d’Italia, he told Caracol Radio.

“It is one of the most serious injuries for an athlete,” referring to his knee injury. “It took almost three months anyway, but the fracture has now healed. I have taken good care of my body from the start and I feel good now, although of course I am not yet at top level.”

Quintana will also participate in the Tour de France in the summer. Last year he started the season like a whirlwind, with victories in two French races and stage wins in Paris-Nice.

Nairo Quintana:
tour 20 quintana mollema martin

 

ineos grenadier
Laurens De Plus to Tour de France with INEOS Grenadiers
This summer Laurens De Plus will be the first Belgian ever to ride the Tour de France for the INEOS Grenadiers team. Het Nieuwsblad reports that De Plus is in principle assured of a place in the INEOS Grenadiers Tour team. The 25-year-old rider made the switch to the British team this winter, where he signed a contract for three seasons. For the past two years he rode for Jumbo-Visma. He made his debut in the Tour in 2019 with a 23rd place final overall. That year he made a big impression working for the team leaders.

2020 was a year to quickly forget for De Plus. First he struggled with stomach problems and after the corona break he sustained a hip injury. In the end, his season only had four racing days, only finishing twice. The Tour de France is on the calendar from June 26 to July 18.

Laurens De Plus:
de plus

 

qhubeka
Victor Campenaerts to Ride the Flemish Weekend
Victor Campenaerts has made a goal of the Flemish opening weekend, he announced through his Qhubeka Assos team. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne are on the calendar for the end of February.

“Normally my goals for the season are on getting results, top 5 finishes or time trial wins. This time my first concrete goal is the opening weekend in Belgium,” Campenaerts said. “I’ve never ridden those races and since I almost live on the course (Wilrijk, south of Antwerp), that will certainly be special. I want to ride those races with a good feeling, that is my goal, to end those races satisfied.”

The Belgian time trial specialist has just completed a two-week training camp with the team. “It was amazing! I checked again and in ten days I was on the bike for 40 hours with only one day of rain, so we were lucky. There was a good atmosphere and I think we all got to know each other very well. If you compare the first dinner with the last, there was a big difference. I start the new season with a good feeling.”

His teammate Giacomo Nizzolo had a problem with his knee during the training camp. “As a result, I could not participate in all training sessions,” the European champion said. “However, I already feel much better than when I started the training camp.” In the Tour de France he had to stop prematurely due to a muscle tear in his lower leg.

Possible Victor Campenaets race schedule:
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (28 February)
Paris-Nice (March 7-14)
E3 Saxo Bank Classic (March 26)
Scheldeprijs (7 April)
Brabantse Pijl (April 14)
Giro d’Italia (May 8-30)
Tour de France (June 26-July 18)

Victor Campenaerts:
giro20st3

 

trek segafredo
Quinn Simmons Will Debut in Flanders and Roubaix
Quinn Simmons will be undertaking a very Flemish spring for the first time this year. The 19-year-old of Trek-Segafredo has the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on his program. Last season, Simmons missed the classics in autumn because he was suspended due to statements on social media.

Simmons start his season in the Drôme Classic and the Ardèche Classic, the team have confirmed to Velonews. After that, an Italian block will follow for the junior World champion of 2019 with Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.

A week later, he starts his series of spring classics in Belgium. Simmons rides the E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. The Amstel Gold Race a week later is also on the calendar for the young American. Simmons, who will turn 20 years old in May, will not be the team leader. That role is reserved for Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven.

Quinn Simmons 2021 program:
Drôme Classic (27 February)
Ardèche Classic (28 February)
Strade Bianche (March 6)
Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16)
Milan-San Remo (March 20)
E3 Saxo Bank Classic (March 26)
Gent-Wevelgem (28 March)
Dwars door Vlaanderen (31 March)
flag-be Ronde van Vlaanderen (April 4)
Paris-Roubaix (April 11)
Amstel Gold Race (April 18).

Quinn Simmons:
Quinn Simmons

 

alpecin fenix
Jonas Rickaert Postpones Season Start
Jonas Rickaert Should have made his season debut in the Étoile de Bessèges this week, but the 26-year-old Belgian is missing from the Alpecin-Fenix team selection. Rickaert appeared to be infected with the corona virus.

However, the Alpecin-Fenix ​​rider’s covid test turned out to be ‘false positive’, he said via Twitter. “Unfortunately I’m not there despite a false positive covid test. This will postpone my season start. Health comes first, fortunately I am covid negative. Good luck to the team!”

Alpecin-Fenix ​​is ​​counting on sprinter Tim Merlier, Tobias Bayer, Belgian champion Dries De Bondt, Silvan Dillier, Sam Gaze, Senne Leysen and Otto Vergaerde in the south of France. The race starts on Wednesday and ends four days later on Sunday 7 February.

“Jonas Rickaert is traditionally my regular lead-out, but he is not there in Bessèges. It turns out that (Sam) Gaze could do that too. As a mountain biker he is quite capable of steering and he is fast. If the circumstances allow it, we want to test it a few times in Bessèges,” Merlier said earlier this week.

Jonas Rickaert:
Jonas Rickaert

 

deceuninck
Michael Mørkøv: “It won’t be long before Fabio Jakobsen is back”
Michael Mørkøv expects Fabio Jakobsen to be at the front soon after his return, he told Feltet. “He looks really good.”

“It’s slow, but I feel more and more like a professional cyclist,” Jakobsen said in January about his recovery from the crash in the Tour of Poland. “I have to go under the knife again in February, then we’ll see how it goes. One or two months later I would be able to race again, in case of complications it will take a little longer.”

We will have to wait a little time to see Fabio Jakobsen back in the peloton, but that does not stop team mate Michael Mørkøv from telling the Danish press that he is impressed by Jakobsen. “He is doing really well. I recently trained with him and he looks really good. He has a good level. I don’t think it will take long before Fabio Jakobsen is back at the front.”

Mørkøv is not alone in being positive about Jakobsen. Zdeněk Štybar said last month that he is thrilled to see where Jakobsen is. “I, and actually everyone, believes he can get back to the same level as before.” Mark Cavendish also expects great things from the Dutch sprinter: “Wait, this boy is going to conquer the world again.”

Fabio Jakobsen will be back soon:
jakobsen

 

tirreno
56th Tirreno-Adriatico Route Announced: A 7 Stage Spectacle Awaits
Starting from Lido di Camaiore, ‘The Race of the Two Seas’ promises three stages for the sprinters, two for the finisseurs (including the brutal ‘Muri’ of Castelfidardo), a summit finish at Prati di Tivo and a refresh for the traditional final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. Read on for a message from Vincenzo Nibali below.

From 10th to 16th March, the 56th edition of the Tirreno-Adriatico will visit 5 regions of central Italy over the course of the seven stage race – Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Le Marche.

The race’s first stage, a 156km opener that starts and finishes at the beach resort of Lido di Camaiore, will be well suited to the fast wheels of the peloton. A bunch finish is by no means guaranteed however, as the sprinters will need to first negotiate the climb of Monte Pitoro three times in total early on in the stage. The next day will see the riders depart from Camaiore and finish in Chiusdino after 226km of riding. This long second stage takes place over undulating terrain, particularly after the halfway point, and will attract the race’s finisseurs. Stage 3 (189km), from Monticiano to Gualdo Tadino, begins with a series of ups and downs before a faster and flatter second half. Its finish is uphill however, although a bunch sprint shouldn’t be discounted as the gradient remains below 4% throughout.

A summit finish at Prati di Tivo awaits the riders on Saturday 13th, Stage 4. The stage will be brief at 148km in length, but intense. The first climb of the day will be the Forca di Arrone that leads onto the Rieti Valley. The peloton will then pass through the town of Rieti and begin the ascent up to Sella di Corno, followed by a long stretch of downhill that heads towards the outskirts of l’Aquila. From there, the penultimate climb of the day – the Passo Capannelle – will begin. The descent that follows, around 30km in length, is characterised by numerous bends and two long and well-lit tunnels. The final 14.5km climb to the finish at the Prati di Tivo ski station features 22 hairpin bends and an average gradient of 7%, with peaks at 12%.

Sunday 14th will play host to the ‘Tappa dei Muri’ (‘The Stage of the Walls’), from Castellalto to Castelfidardo (205km). The first 100km of the stage follows wide and straight roads (mostly along the coast) to reach the town of Castelfidardo where, after first passing through the Selva della Battaglia, the riders will enter a 23km circuit that’s set to be repeated 4 times. The circuit is characterised by a series of short but steep climbs (the ‘muri’) and corresponding descents, with one brief flat section around the half way point. The first of the ‘muri’ (or walls) hits gradients of around 18% for long stretches and is classified as a GPM on each of the four laps of the circuit. The final kilometres feature several ups and downs of course, with double-figure gradients to climb after San Rocchetto. The last kilometre takes place in Castelfidardo, entirely uphill.

Stage 6 is from Castelraimondo to Lido di Fermo (169km). It will be the last chance for the race’s sprinters to take a stage win before the final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto. The 11.1km time trial – Stage 7 – follows an altered route compared to recent editions of the race. The race against the clock begins from the Stadio delle Palme and passes beneath the nearby railway before continuing along the well-ridden roads of the traditional route, but in the opposite direction. The route then drops down towards the Porto d’Ascoli and visits the Piazza Salvo d’Acquisto. The riders will then reach a turning point and rise back up to the seafront, heading north. After the port, the route rises slightly again towards Grottammare then traces around the old stadium and faces south to reach the finish line.

tirreno

Stefano Allocchio, RCS Sport Race Director, said: “We have created a route that resembles that of last year’s edition, with stages adapted to fit the characteristics of each and every rider competing. We believe that this is a winning formula because it allows us to really showcase diverse and unique territories – from coastal locations to mountain passes and everything in between – to the world through a top-level sporting spectacle. My thanks go in particular to all of the organisations involved in the route’s planning that have worked hard to make sure that the Tirreno-Adriatico can go ahead in a safe and secure way during such a difficult period.”

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek Segafredo): “The Tirreno-Adriatico is an unmissable event in the early stages of my racing calendar, it’s an important test of form that I don’t think I could do without. It’s a race where I have had a lot of joy, especially in 2012 and 2013, but it also always gives me a real boost for the rest of the season. I also like the unique setting in central Italy, an area I know well. There’s Tuscany, where I found my form as a young rider, Le Marche, a spectacular region that I’ve grown to love in recent years, and let’s not forget the regions of Umbria, Abruzzo or Lazio. Even in a year like this, I am overjoyed to be riding the race.”

Vincenzo Nibali:
nibali

 


Amstel Gold Race Wants Circuit of 18 Kilometres
Race director Leo van Vliet assumes that the Amstel Gold Race can run this year. The organiser is aiming for a race over a local circuit of about 18 kilometres, similar to the alternative course that was planned for last autumn.

“We are very busy establishing lines with all authorities, so that we are not faced with surprises,” Van Vliet told the ANP news agency. Last autumn, the plan was to run the race on a closed circuit. The organisation was almost ready, but in the last weeks before the start it became known that sports events had to be held without an audience. The race director could not guarantee that local residents would stay inside, which in turn meant the cancellation.

“We now have to make sure that we don’t wait until the last minute to find out, for example, what the mayors and other local authorities think. In any case, we go for a race on a course that is easy to close to visitors from outside. There will be no VIP village or the like. We already approached the local residents, holiday parks, hotels and restaurants along the course last year and they were very positive and accommodating at the time. We are now also trying to communicate as well as possible,” said Van Vliet.

The Amstel Gold Race for men and women is on the calendar for Sunday April 18.

Mathieu van der Poel was the last winner of the Amstel Gold Race:
amstel19

 

kuurne
Eikenmolen Not in the 2021 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Route
The race organisers of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne has made some changes to the course for the 73rd edition. The climb of the Eikenmolen has been removed from the course, the Tiegemberg and Boembeek will replace it.

“At the request of the riders and sports directors, we no longer use the Eikenmolen,” organiser Peter Debaveye told Sporza. “That particular climb first crosses a paved road and then changes into a sudden narrowing. This creates an annoying bottleneck that takes the race out of its rhythm unnecessarily early.”

“The Eikenmolen also has two level crossings. As an organising committee we want to listen to the wishes of the riders and teams. As an alternative, we have inserted the Tiegemberg and Boembeek so that we have 12 slopes in total.”

The organisation has also put extra emphasis on safety. An outside firm was hired to carefully study the course. “This risk analysis resulted in a safety manual that identifies every potentially dangerous point and gives advice to the teams. The UCI is delighted that our course is taking the lead in this.”

“We do everything in our power to deliver a flawless and one hundred percent safe edition. This with maximum attention to the safety of the riders,” said Debaveye. “The start and finish zone in Kuurne will be kept free of the public and the usual corona measures apply along the entire route. It is a shame to have to organise without cycling fans, but in the current circumstances we cannot do otherwise.” Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is scheduled for February 28th.

Kuurne’20 winner Asgreen:
asgreen kuurne

 

madrid
Vuelta a Madrid Removed from UCI Calendar
Following many Spanish races, the Vuelta a Madrid has now been removed from the UCI calendar. The Madrid stage race was to be organised at the beginning of May, but has now been canceled by the local cycling federation.

The Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid (UCI 2.1) was scheduled for May 6-9. “But the serious health situation and the great impact on our community makes it impossible to organise the tour,” said the organisers. Reference is made to the safety guarantees for the riders, staff members and the organisers themselves.

The Federación Madrileña de Ciclismo indicates that it hopes to be able to organise the Vuelta a Madrid again in 2022. The stage race was also canceled last year due to the corona virus. Clément Russo was the last winner in 2019.

vuelta madrid

 

france
2021 French Championship in Épinal
The French cycling championships will take place in Épinal this year, according to Vosges Matin. The rumour has been around for some time, but negotiations have been concluded, according to the local news.

There was a gap in the budget of more than €150,000 for the local authorities of Épinal and the French cycling association, but a solution has been found in these difficult corona times. This means that the French title road race will be organised from 17-20 June 2021 in the Vosges.

Last summer, the French championship was organised by Grand-Champ, located in the Brittany region. Then the road titles went to Arnaud Démare and Audrey Cordon-Ragot. Rémi Cavagna and Juliette Labous won the national time trial champions.

French champ Arnaud Démare:
demare giro20

 

bingoal
Bingoal Cycling Cup 2021 Calendar
The organisers of the Bingoal Cycling Cup has presented their program for 2021. There are ten Belgian one-day races on the calendar of the series. The first race is the GP Le Samyn on Tuesday March 2 and the last race is the Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen on Sunday October 10.

With the GP Le Samyn and the Circuit de Wallonie, the Bingoal Cycling Cup has added two Walloon races to the 2021 series. In addition, the women’s races of Dwars door het Hageland and GP Le Samyn also fall under the umbrella of the BCC of organiser Nick Nuyens.

Last year, the Bingoal Cycling Cup consisted of only three races due to the corona crisis. In the spring, only the GP Monseré in Roeselare (won by Fabio Jakobsen) and Dwars door het Hageland (Jonas Rickaert) were held, plus the Antwerp Port Epic (Gianni Vermeersch).

Bingoal Cycling Cup 2021:
GP Le Samyn (2 March)
GP Monseré (7 March)
Circuit de Wallonie (13 May)
Dwars door het Hageland (5 June)
Halle Ingooigem (16 June)
GP Marcel Kint (20 August)
Schaal Sels (22 August)
Antwerp Port Epic (12 September)
Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen (17 September)
Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen (10 October).

GP Monseré won by Fabio Jakobsen:
jakobsen

 

uae
UAE Team Emirates Extends with Campagnolo
Campagnolo extends partnership with Colnago, supplying Tour de France winners UAE Team Emirates.

Campagnolo is proud to announce the continuation of its Tour de France-winning partnership with Colnago, supplying the UAE Team Emirates UCI WorldTour team throughout the 2021 racing season. The world’s first UAE cycling team will ride with Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS disc brake groupset fitted to the Colnago V3RS. UAE Team Emirates riders will also benefit from Campagnolo’s full range of Bora WTO and Bora Ultra wheels, reuniting the same all-Italian frameset, drivetrain and wheelset package that took Tadej Pogačar to his emphatic 2020 Tour de France victory.

This latest development means that Campagnolo can now confirm a trio of partnerships with leading WorldTour cycling teams, having already announced its contract extension with Ridley and Lotto Soudal alongside its exciting collaboration with BMC who are set to supply AG2R Citroën Team for 2021.

“We’re pleased to announce another contract extension with UAE Team Emirates – a team with whom we have developed an excellent relationship over the years. 2020 was a special year for the team, and for Campagnolo. It brings us real pride to say that Campagnolo played a part in Tadej Pogačar’s thrilling Tour de France victory. Tadej’s yellow Colnago, with a Super Record EPS groupset and Bora wheels is now part of our company’s history. Racing is so important to us all, as we know it is to Colnago and all our partner manufacturers, so we’ll be watching the 2021 season very closely and with great excitement!” said Campagnolo Marketing Manager Nicolò Ildos.

“We’re excited to extend our partnership with Campagnolo for 2021. At Colnago, we strive to create the best bikes for the best riders. Choosing Campagnolo for the V3RS is integral to this. Tadej Pogačar’s Tour de France win last season was a source of great joy for the company and we look forward to the new season with UAE Team Emirates.” added Colnago Executive Vice-Chairwoman Melissa Moncada.

uae

 

dsm
Team DSM Extend Contract with Casper Pedersen
Team DSM are pleased to announce that Casper Pedersen has extended his contract with his team through to the end of the 2022 season.

Having joined the team in 2019, Pedersen quickly settled in and showed promising performances in his opening year, helping the team to wins throughout the season before making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España. In 2020, he was part of the team’s sprint block and really shone through in a team that harked back to the halcyon days of sprint trains, with Pedersen transitioning and developing into an important part of that group. After being part of the team’s incredibly successful 2020 Tour de France on his race debut, Pedersen rounded off his season with a fantastic win in a two-up sprint finish at Paris-Tours; highlighting his strength and speed on the bike, but also his ability to read races – a skill that he has transferred over excellently to his role as part of the team’s burgeoning sprint group.

On extending his contract with Team DSM, Casper Pedersen said: “I’m really happy to extend my contract with Team DSM for another year. A big part of the reason of why I first joined the team was my trust in the way Team DSM worked with its young riders and the professional approach to every aspect of becoming a good bike rider – whether that was nutrition, optimised training plans or tactical planning for the races. My goal was, and still is, to develop myself to become the best rider I possibly can and in the last two years my development has been going well with the team. I believe we can continue this trend and I feel really comfortable with the riders and staff, so extending was an easy decision for me to make. I believe I can continue to get better and better over the next years and achieve great things together with the team.”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna added: “We’re pleased to have Casper with us for another year in 2022. Since he’s been with us, he’s really developed well as a rider and we’re really happy with how we work together. He’s shown to be very strong as part of our sprint group and that’s where we see him developing in the future. It’s not only his ability on the bike that we’re impressed with, but his ability to read a race is very good and he offers experience and the tactical nous to make a quick and well-informed decision on the bike; something that is really important in hectic sprint finishes. We’re looking forward to continuing to work together with Casper, to help him improve even more as a rider and achieve some more good results.”

Casper Pedersen:
pedersen

 

usa
Olympian and World Champion Cyclist Bunki Bankaitis-Davis Passes Away
Successful and respected professional made a lasting impact on the cycling and scientific communities.

Former Olympian and World Champion cyclist, Danute (Bunki) Bankaitis-Davis passed away on January 29, 2021, following a seven-year cancer battle. She was 63-years-old. Bunki’s career highlights included being a 5-time member of the United States World Championships Road Cycling Team (World Champion in 1992), 2-time member of the United States Olympic Road Cycling Team, and 7-time member of the United States National Road Cycling Team (National Champion and Team Captain in 1992). Bunki’s impressive racing resume also included multiple top-3 individual results in the premier women’s events of her era, including the Tour de France Feminin, Tour of Molenheike, Post Giro World Cup, European Spring Classics, Coors Classic and the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Competing in road and track cycling disciplines, in both individual and team events, she achieved significant international and domestic results between 1985 and 1992. Major highlights included being named to the United States Olympic Road Cycling Team in 1988 (Seoul, Korea) and 1992 (Barcelona Spain – 1st Alternate), and gold medals at the 1992 World Championships (Team Time Trial) and United States National Championships (Team Time Trial). She raced for some of the top trade teams of the period, including 7-Eleven, Centurion and Look. A consummate teammate and mentor, Bunki was highly-respected throughout the ranks of women’s cycling, and named U.S. National Team Captain in 1992. Post-racing, Bunki served on the United States Cycling Federation’s Board of Directors, the United States Olympic Committee Athletes Advisory Council and Sport, Science & Technology Committee, and the USA Cycling Athlete Selection Committee.

In college, Bunki was named 1979 Female Athlete of the Year and State MVP in Division 1 NCAA Volleyball, while concurrently jumping into bike racing and earning multiple scientific degrees. These include B.S. Chemistry and M.S. Carbohydrate Chemistry degrees from Cleveland State University, and a Ph.D. in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of North Carolina.

Upon retiring from competitive cycling at the end of the 1992 season, Bunki’s professional scientific career flourished. Over a 20-year period, she was a successful translational scientist, specialising in drug and diagnostic development in corporate, entrepreneurial and consultative environments. In 1998, she co-founded Source MDx®, a privately held molecular diagnostics company in Boulder, CO. Most recently, she served as Vice President Quality and Laboratory Operations for Scipher Medicine in Boston, MA.

Bunki is survived by her husband, Chip, and son, Armen. Bunki and Chip actively supported Armen during his own cycling career, where he achieved success in junior and elite/pro categories of mountain bike downhill. Bunki made a habit of tackling every stage in life and sport with spirit, determination, excellence, kindness and good humour. She remains well-loved by teammates, colleagues, friends and family alike, and will be profoundly missed.

Bunki Bankaitis-Davis – Coors Classic 1988:
bunki

 

poland
Ryszard Szurkowski Dies at 75
Former cyclist Ryszard Szurkowski has passed away. The Pole lived to be 75 years old. Szurkowski was referred to as a legend by his fellow countryman Michal Kwiatkowski. “He was the best Polish cyclist of all time,” said Kwiatkowski.

Szurkowski made a name for himself by winning the Peace Race four times. The Tour de France for amateurs during the Cold War. Szurkowski was the best in 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and also won thirteen stages. He also won two Olympic medals, in 1972 and 1976, and was World amateur champion in 1973. Despite his status as an amateur cyclist, Szurkowski also achieved successes in France. He won the 1974 Tour du Limousin, triumphed in a stage of the Circuit Cycliste de la Sarthe and finished second twice in stages of Paris-Nice. After his career, he was coach of the Polish road team and president of the Polish cycling association for several years.

Szurkowski died in a hospital in Radom, about 100 kilometres south of Warsaw.

You can see a full obituary on PEZ later today.

szurkowski

 

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