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EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

All the cycling news of the week

The Italian Classics have started with the Trofeo Laigueglia and we have Le Samyn with results, reports and video. Fans at the roadside, yes and no – TOP STORY. Teams for the Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice. Race news: Volta a Catalunya route, Amstel Gold Race hopes to run in 2021, Pontevedra wants Euro cyclocross champs, 2021 Maglia Rosa and Dwars door Vlaanderen route. Rider news: Tadej Pogačar extends, Sweeck not going to Tormans and Emiel Planckaert retires. Team news: Team Novo Nordisk development, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec still wants Giro wildcard. Plus behind the scenes videos from the UAE Tour and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Thursday EUROTRASH BIG read time!

top story
TOP STORY: Code red in Siena: “No influence on Strade Bianche”
Almost a year ago, Strade Bianche was one of the first races to be canceled due to the corona virus. The 2021 race is on the calendar for this Saturday, but the situation in Siena, the region of the race, all is not well. A covid-19 code red applies in the province.

In the provinces of Siena, Pistoia and Valdarno, in the Tuscany region, the number of corona infections is increasing. It was therefore decided to ‘lockdown’ the area to prevent the situation from worsening. The code red applies at least up to and including Sunday. For the rest of the Tuscany region, code orange will remain in effect for the time being. The tightened measures mean that residents are not allowed to leave their own municipality, unless this is for work or medical reasons. Shops must close, except for the sale of food or basic necessities. Kiosks, tobacconists and pharmacies may remain open.

For the time being, both the Strade Bianche men’s and women’s races will run on Saturday, although it remains to be seen what the local authorities will decide in the coming days. In 2020, Wout van Aert and Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line in Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena. The organiser, RCS, said that Strade Bianche can continue on Saturday. “For the time being, the event will continue as usual. The fact that Siena is code red has no impact on the race itself, only on the public. Of course, anything can happen with the corona virus, but at the moment we have not heard that the race cannot take place,” said a spokesman.

In 2020, Wout van Aert and Annemiek van Vleuten crossed the line in Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena:
van aert


Kuurne: “The public in Kortrijk ignored the appeal en masse”
The Flemish Classics spring season can and may continue, as long as the public stays at home during the corona time. The fact that there were a lot of people in the streets of Kortrijk during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne raised questions. “The Kortrijk residents ignored the governor’s appeal en masse,” says Stefaan Stamper of the KBK board in Het Laatste Nieuws.

“It was not too bad along the course, even on the climbs such as the Oude Kwaremont. Then when you enter Kortrijk, you suddenly see all those people,” said Stamper. The classic caused an uproar in the start and finish town of Kuurne, because the audience stayed away from there. “It makes sense that the people in Kuurne are frustrated, because in some places it was really about it in Kortrijk,” said Francis Benoit, the mayor of Kuurne.

“The rules may be a bit too strict, but especially a chapeau for the people of Kuurne who did adhere to them. I wonder if the police was supervising in Kortrijk. It doesn’t feel fair what happened there. I am asking for an evaluation,” said Benoit. Governor Carl Decaluwé agrees with this. That evaluation is coming, says Decaluwé. “If it works in Kuurne, it should also work in Kortrijk. Now I mainly get the impression that the Kortrijk city council and the police were not doing their job completely correctly. So we’re going to look at that thoroughly.”

The mayor of Kortrijk believes that he cannot close off the entire city centre. “The race stretched over 18 kilometres in Kortrijk. We were called upon not to encourage the riders in real life. And the police were present at crucial points. But when the riders passed, people stopped to watch, that’s all. It is not that there were folk festivals. Because of the nice weather there were just a lot of walkers and cyclists in the city. It is a pity that such a good race is now completely overshadowed by this,” said Ruth Vandenberghe.

No fans here:


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Le Samyn Men 2021
The win in Le Samyn 2021 went to Tim Merlier. In the first race of the Bingoal Cycling Cup, the sprinter from Alpecin-Fenix ​​was the fastest of a large leading group after more than 200 kilometres. In the final straight, Merlier won the sprint with enough of a distance to celebrate. Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X) started his sprint early to finish in second place. Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) finished third.

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Not the best finish for Mathieu van der Poel

Forty-four kilometres were covered in the first hour, but no leading group had emerged. Not long after there was an attempt by Jan-Willem van Schip (BEAT Cycling) and Enzo Leijnse (Development Team DSM) were joined by Kenny De Ketele (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Joey Rosskopf (Rally) and Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex). They got no more than 3 minutes lead. In the peloton there was a big crash in which caused Piotr Havik (BEAT Cycling) to abandon. On the local circuit of 26 kilometres around Dour, the difference between the leading group, where Marchand had been dropped, and the peloton was at less than a minute. For a long time the lead remained around 40 seconds, but at 56 kilometres from the finish, the end for the break was in sight. From the peloton a group of about 25 riders had made the crossing to the front riders. Tim Merlier, Sep Vanmarcke, Mark Cavendish, Bert Van Lerberghe, Kobe Goossens, Brent Van Moer, Boy van Poppel, Danny van Poppel, Damien Touzé, Jempy Drucker, Victor Campenaerts, Timothy Dupont, Tom Wirtgen, Thimo Willems, Lorrenzo Manzin, Rasmus Tiller, Antoine Raugel, Jarno Mobach and Maurice Ballerstedt joined Van Schip, De Ketele, Rosskopf and Leijnse. The lead was quickly 1 minute.

With 40 kilometres to go, there was the expected attack by Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutch champion used a technical section with bends and cobblestones to break away from the peloton. After a second jump, he managed to join the leading group from which Vanmarcke and Campenaerts had just attacked off the front. The front groups came together again on the penultimate passage of Rue de Belle Vue. Victor Campenaerts went solo at the start of the last local lap. Behind him Deceuninck – Quick-Step organised the chase, but the differences stayed within 20 seconds. Campenaerts was caught on the Chemin de Wihéries, 15 kilometres before the finish. Dries De Bondt and Lukasz Wisniowski then tried to surprise the leading group. The Qhubeka Assos initially made a good gap, but started the last passage of the Rue de Belle Vue with a minimal lead.

On the cobblestones, Florian Sénéchal and Mathieu van der Poel rode up to and past Wisniowski. The Frenchman had the Dutch champion in his wheel. They made a gap and had Sep Vanmarcke, Danny van Poppel and Wisniowski with them. Van der Poel rode defensively, afterwards it turned out that he had broken his handlebars, and let the rest of his escapees do the work. At 1.5 kilometres from the finish, the chasing group rejoined the leading group. Van der Poel hit the front even with his broken bars. Victor Campenaerts tried it one last time. In the last metres, Norwegian Rasmus Tiller started his sprint early, but Marlier came past him. Behind, Andrea Pasqualon finished third and Sep Vanmarcke fourth. Merlier is the first Belgian winner of Le Samyn since Guillaume Van Keirsbulck.

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Race winner, Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix): “Mathieu also said that he could not sprint and that we had to go for the gap. I then said that he could take the lead and then it is a matter of waiting and good timing. That rider from Uno-X (Rasmus Tiller) started early, so I had to cover a few meters, but it turned out okay in the end. I was very pleased. The team had put pressure on it beforehand that it was for us today. And everyone was super motivated, so I’m glad I was able to finish it. During the race I was thinking that if I could win today, I can enter the coming period with a good feeling with that victory in my pocket. I knew I was good, but in the Étoile de Bessèges and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne it had not come out. I was not able to get a result there. That is why I am glad that it worked out today. Then they can no longer speculate that I can only do it in training.”

3rd, Andrea Pasqualon (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “It’s nice to show the colours of the team in the Walloon opening race. Both for the riders and staff as for the sponsors, the GP Le Samyn is a special day. The team performed very well today and we did what we had to do to take the victory. With Danny on the attack in the final kilometres, and Aimé bringing me into a perfect position with 200 meter to go, everything went perfectly. I felt good and tried my best, but two guys were stronger. My crash in Omloop het Nieuwsblad, the hard opening weekend and some difficult nights definitely had an influence on my freshness today. Maybe those were the percents I was lacking to take the victory. But I’m happy that we’re on a good way! Also the next weeks some special races are coming up for me with the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-San Remo!”

8th, Dimitri Claeys (Qhubeka Assos): “We had a really good day with the whole team, and are happy. We rode really offensively and we were able to deliver a good collective result. That said, I think this shows that in the coming races we can still be, and get, better. We still aim to go even higher, and step by step we’ll do so.”

Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka Assos): “We executed a very offensive race (today); in a race on cobblestones to have three riders in the top 16 is a really strong performance. Of course we want to win but I think it’s a very good result. I was awarded prize for the most attractive rider too, so it was a really good day for the team, and we can be proud of our fight and effort out there.”

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I was still very good myself, but I couldn’t put in any force because my handlebars broke on that long cobblestone strip. I couldn’t do my thing with that. I said in my radio that we were going for Tim Merlier. I did everything I could to paralyse the group and I am very happy that Tim finishes it. I saw that he was very good, in the last lap I jumped on everything and he had to focus on the sprint. We then rode away with a fairly dangerous group. It was actually silly that I had to play ‘jammer’ there, but I had no other choice. If my handlebars were okay, I would of course ride. I am very satisfied. I was still very good at the end, so that was a shame. It was a very difficult race. I am happy with the feeling, even if I was not as good as in Kuurne. But when they started racing, I had a good feeling. So I can go to Italy satisfied. The form is good. Especially compared to last year, when I went to Strade Bianche, the difference is very big.”

Le Samyn Men Result:
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix in 4:34:29
2. Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
3. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
4. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
5. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
6. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
8. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Qhubeka Assos
9. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB
10. Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB.

Le Samyn’21:


Le Samyn Women 2021
Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) won Le Samyn for women. The Belgian champion was the first in Dour after a cobbled race of 92.5 kilometres. Kopecky beat Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) and Chloe Hosking (Trek-Segafredo) in the sprint of a large group.

The race in Le Samyn split open after about 30 kilometres. The peloton broke into two parts on one of the many difficult cobblestone sections, after which the front group had a 1 minute lead. Amalie Dideriksen and Letizia Paternoster had missed the move. The leading group with D’hoore, Pieters, Lotte Kopecky, Emma Norsgaard and Marlen Reusser was not given much space by Jumbo-Visma and Trek-Segafredo. A compact peloton of about thirty riders entered the last 20 kilometres. After the last Côte de la Roquette, Belgian champion Kopecky pushed on, on a cobblestone section. Only Majerus and Jelena Eric could follow, but they did not want to cooperate and so they were caught.

In the last 10 kilometres, the battle continued, but the decision only came on the cobblestones of the Rue de Belle Vue. Time trial specialist Reusser put in a strong effort, but everything came together again. A large group entered the last 2 kilometres, where Movistar took control for Danish champion Norsgaard. Jolien D’hoore wasn’t there due to a mechanical problem. Norsgaard started the sprint from far out, but was passed by the very fast Lotte Kopecky. The Belgian champion started her sprint at the right time and was able to celebrate the victory well before the finish.


Le Samyn winner, Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing): “Really nice to start the season like this. After the Omloop I was disappointed that I fell just off the podium. I should not have given too much kick in the last five kilometres. I could trust my teammates blindly. Then Evy (Kuijpers) Started the sprint perfectly. Emma Norsgaard started a little too early, especially with the wind blowing on the head. I knew I had to have a little patience to start my own sprint at the right time. It turned out well. I had a good feeling and we just wanted to make the race today. Then it is indeed nice to determine that you still have such a sprint in your legs at the end. Quite special, that first victory in the tricolour.”

Le Samyn Women Result:
1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing in 2:20:04
2. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar
3. Chloe Hosking (Aus) Trek-Segafredo
4. Gladys Verhulst (Fra) Arkea Pro Cycling Team
5. Maria Van ‘T Geloof (Ned) Drops-le Col Supported by Tempur
6. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx
7. Laura Tomasi (Ita) Alé BTC Ljubljana
8. Anna Henderson (GB) Jumbo-Visma
9. Amber van der Hulst (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg
10. Romy Kasper (Ger) Jumbo-Visma.

Le Samyn’21:


Trofeo Laigueglia 2021
Bauke Mollema won the Trofeo Laigueglia. Sixteen kilometres from the finish, the Dutchman rode away from an elite group at the perfect moment. He then managed to hold his own to solo all the way to the finish. Egan Bernal narrowly beat Mauri Vansevenant in the battle for second place.

49 year-old Davide Rebellin made his debut for the continental Work Service-Marchiol team. Continental team, Giotti Victoria-Savini Due didn’t start at the last minute due to a corona case in the team. It didn’t take long for a dozen riders to escape. Nicolas Edet and John Archibald joined forces with Nikita Stalnov, Mattia Bais, Mulu Hailemichael, Unai Cuadrado, Veljko Stojnić, Alessandro Iacchi, Niccolò Salvietti, Juri Hollmann, Mathias Vacek and Davide Persico.

At the foot of the first climb, the Cima Paravenna after 60 kilometres, the lead of the twelve had increased to 4 minutes. Behind, Trek-Segafredo, which in addition to Nibali and Mollema, also had Giulio Ciccone and Gianluca Brambilla, winner of the Tour du Var, at the start, and INEOS Grenadiers set the pace. The difference then fluctuated for a long time between 2:30 and 3:30. On the second climb, the Testico after 115 kilometres, the only continental riders in the front, Salvietti (Mg.k Vis VPM) and Persico (Colpack Ballan) were dropped from the break. In the run-up to the four local circuits around Laigueglia, each of 10.8 kilometres with the climbs of the Colla Micheri and the Capo Mele, the peloton then started to increase the pace, which cut the lead. Once on the local laps, the leading group fell apart. On the first climb of the Colla Micheri, Edet, Hollmann and Bais turned out to be the strongest riders in the front and they got together on the descent. The race also ignited in the peloton at the hands of Landa. The Spaniard escaped for a while, but he came back to the peloton because he received no help from behind.

On the Capo Mele Ciccone once tested its legs. Bernal joined him, after which the Italian sat up. Landa tried again with Nibali in his wheel, but again he got no space. With a lead of half a minute, Edet, Hollmann and Bais started the second local lap. At the Colla Micheri Arkéa-Samsic, the team of Nairo Quintana, took on the chase, while at the front Hollmann and Bais dropped Edet. However, they were able to get together again on the descent. At that time there was still 30 kilometres to race. On the second passage of the Capo Mele they were caught up by the first chasing group with Mollema, Clément Champoussin, Pello Bilbao, Dries Devenyns, James Knox, Valentin Madouas and Carlos Rodriguez. For the third passage of the Colla Micheri, other chasers joined them. On the climb Eddie Dunbar attacked and Champoussin and Knox jumped with him. Bernal then attacked, Champoussin was the only rider that could go with him.

They came over the top with a small lead on the first pursuers, but on the descent Bernal and Champoussin were caught again. At 16 kilometres from the finish, just before the penultimate passage of the Capo Mele, Mollema then accelerated from a group with his team mate Ciccone, Champoussin, Landa, Mauri Vansevenant, Madouas, Bernal and Biniam Ghirmay. In no time Mollema had a gap of 30 seconds. On the last passage of the Colla Micheri, Bernal launched the counterattack, but the Colombian had to close a big gap. Champoussin, Landa and Vansevenant joined him. Ciccone also hooked up. Champoussin and Landa attacked, but Mollema still had a 16 second lead at the top of the climb. The Dutchman managed to hold up well against the chasing group, despite reactions on the Capo Mele and he finished as the solo winner. In the sprint for second place, Bernal narrowly beat Vansevenant.


Race winner, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo): “Super nice to win here. I have felt very good in recent weeks. I wanted to start the season well and I already have two victories in my pocket. This was a course that suited me well. We were here with a good team, so the goal was to win. In March, the count for the team is already at five victories, so we are doing very well. Hopefully we can continue this line to the next Italian races. After that I will also ride the GP Industria i Artigianato on Sunday. Then I take a short break to prepare for the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d’Italia.”

3rd, Mauri Vansevenant (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Being on the podium after such a hard race makes me happy. It’s better than I expected before the start and I’m glad I could be up there for the team, especially after the bad luck we had today. I wish all our guys involved in the crash a speedy recovery. After eighth overall at La Provence, this podium serves as confirmation of the good winter preparation I had and gives me a big confidence boost for my next races, which I can’t wait for now.”

Bad Crash for Bagioli and Kwiatkowski
For Andrea Bagioli, winner of the Drôme Classic on Sunday, and Michał Kwiatkowski, the Trofeo Laigueglia ended prematurely. Both riders, were among the contenders in advance, had a bad crash and had to abandon.

Bagioli and Kwiatkowski

Bagioli won the Drôme Classic on Sunday, after having ridden away alone on the last climb of the day. For the Trofeo Laigueglia, the promising Italian from Deceuninck – Quick-Step was seen as one of the biggest contenders, but he had to stop. He sustained a wound to his face. It is not yet known how serious his injuries are.


Kwiatkowski is also in good form after his second place in the final classification of the Étoile de Bessèges. But the 2014 world champion also went down in the same crash as Bagioli. The INEOS Grenadiers rider announced via social media that he sustained abrasions in his fall. “Hopefully I haven’t broken anything.”

Trofeo Laigueglia Result:
1. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 4:57:05
2. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:39
3. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Clément Champoussin (Fra) AG2R Citroën
5. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
6. Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
7. James Knox (GB) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:57
8. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën at 1:01
9. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Delko
10. Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.



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Alpecin-Fenix ​​Team Around Van der Poel
Alpecin-Fenix ​​has announced which seven riders will be at the start of Strade Bianche on Saturday. The leader of the team is Mathieu van der Poel, who crossed the line in 15th place at his first participation last year.

Van der Poel said after Le Samyn, where he finished with a broken handlebar, that his form is good. “Especially compared to last year, when I rode to Strade Bianche, the difference is very big. Especially that I am fresher.” He thought it was a pity that rain was predicted. “Rather not. Strade is a bit more technical when dry because it is loose gravel then. I therefore prefer it to be dry and sunny.”

In addition to Van der Poel, Xandro Meurisse, Petr Vakoč, Gianni Vermeersch and Philipp Walsleben have already ridden the Strade Bianche. Vakoč was 5th in the white roads race five years ago. Jonas Rickaert and Otto Vergaerde make their debut.

Alpecin-Fenix ​​for Strade Bianche 2021:
Xandro Meurisse (Bel)
Mathieu van der Poel (Ned)
Jonas Rickaert (Bel)
Petr Vakoč (CZ)
Otto Vergaerde (Bel)
Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)
Philipp Walsleben (Ger).

Van der Poel – Better than 15th in 2021?
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Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Strade Bianche
Julian Alaphilippe and Zdenek Stybar will lead the line for the squad this weekend, in Italy

Saturday schedules the 15th edition of Strade Bianche, whose white roads caked in dust and dirt have made for some vintage racing in the years that have passed since the race was created. With 63 kilometers of gravel roads divided across 11 sectors and the breathtaking Tuscan countryside as background, the 184km-long World Tour event promises not to disappoint also this year, when it will once again test the riders’ tactical acumen, climbing abilities and handling skills.

In 2019, Julian Alaphilippe arrived victorious in the stunning Piazza del Campo, a feat that four years earlier had been achieved by his teammate Zdenek Stybar. Both will be in Siena this weekend at the start of the spectacular one-day race, where they will be joined by Strade Bianche first-timer João Almeida, Danish Champion Kasper Asgreen, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Davide Ballerini, Dries Devenyns and Pieter Serry.

“We love Strade Bianche, we won it several times in the past and we’re always glad when we’re at the start of this great race which has it all. The parcours, same like last year, is a hard one and there are many favourites, so it won’t be easy, but we’ll try to be again among the protagonists. The team is a strong one, we have more than one option and we hope to be there in the key moments of the race”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Davide Bramati.

06.03 Strade Bianche (ITA) 1.UWT

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
João Almeida (POR)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Davide Ballerini (ITA)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Pieter Serry (BEL)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA) and Wilfried Peeters (BEL).



astana 2021
Astana – Premier Tech Aiming for a Top Ten Result at Strade Bianche
The Piazza del Campo in Siena will again be the setting of a dramatic finale of Strade Bianche at the end of the 184-kilometre undulating course, riddled with punchy hills and more than 60 kilometres of gravel roads.

The Kazakh – Canadian team will take to the start line in Siena with several cards to play. Leader Jakob Fuglsang, who has good memories of the race having finished fifth in 2020 and second in 2019, aims for another top result on the iconic white gravel roads.

“I have good memories of the race, finishing second in 2019 and fifth last year. Last year the weather took its toll but, of course, it was an unusual edition in August. This year, the weather forecast suggests rain, so we could be in for a really tough race but we have a strong team with riders with ambition and experience. I am looking forward to racing on Saturday as it’s one of the most beautiful races of the year. I had a good start to the season with my previous races in France, so I am confident I can add another good result to my early racing season.” – said Jakob Fuglsang.

Alongside the Danish rider, Gorka Izagirre and Alex Aranburu will line up after proving their shape last weekend in Belgium, while Jonas Gregaard will make his race debut this Saturday.

Canadian Hugo Houle, and Italians Fabio Felline and Manuele Boaro will round out the strong line up, all of whom have experience on the historic course in Italy.

“We saw already last week in France that Jakob is in a good form. Last year, he rode a really strong race, attacking 70 kilometres before the line and staying away a long time. But also, Gorka and Alex are in an incredible shape right now, proving it last weekend in Belgium, where Alex took sixth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With Hugo, Manuele, and Fabio, we have riders with a lot of experience who can read the race. Jonas will ride Strade Bianche for the first time, like Alex, but he is motivated and will be good support for Jakob. I think we need to wait until the final part of the race to see how things unfold and who will be up there. But, we have a strong line up and multiple cards to play.” – said Sports Director Stefano Zanini.

Strade Bianche, Siena – Siena, 184 km.
Rider roster:

Alex Aranburu, Manuele Boaro, Jonas Gregaard Wilsly, Fabio Felline, Jakob Fuglsang, Hugo Houle, Gorka Izagirre.
Sports directors: Bruno Cenghialta, Stefano Zanini.



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Valerio Piva is Confident for the Strade Bianche
Only seven months after the first participation at the Strade Bianche (1.UWT, 6/03), Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will be at the start of its second classic on the white Tuscan roads. Next Saturday at 11h40, organisator RCS will give the start of the race in Sienna. The parcours is a copy of the previous edition. The riders will immediately plunge in the race, with the first gravel section after 17.6 kilometer already. The ’settori sterrati’ are spread on the course and alternated with asphalted climbs. The last sector is 12 kilometer from the finish line in Sienna, but is not the last difficulty for the riders. The succession of short and steep climbs doesn’t offer many opportunities for recovery. Despite the expected rain before the race, there will be enough dust on the 63 kilometer gravel sections. Around 16h15, the successor of Wout Van Aert is expected to finish on the Piazza del Campo.

With Andrea Pasqualon, Simone Petilli and Lorenzo Rota, three out of the four Italian riders from Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will start in the race on the white Tuscan roads. Next to them, also Jan Bakelants, Théo Delacroix, Tom Devriendt and Loïc Vliegen, who were present at the Italian opening race Trofeo Laigueglia, will be at the start. Last season, Vliegen finished in the top 20 of the summer edition of the Strade Bianche. Delacroix and his Italian and Belgian teammates will receive the support of sport directors Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon.

Valerio Piva (Sports Director): “This Thursday, we did the recon of the important final 100 kilometer, so they know the approach to the Monte Sante Marie well, usually a crucial point in the race. Simone Petilli is after a good UAE Tour motivated and Andrea Pasqualon has shown in the classic opening weekend that he’s in a very good condition. Also Lorenzo Rota and Jan Bakelants showed themselves in the difficult Boucles Drôme-Ardèche and Trofeo Laigueglia the past week. Loïc Vliegen showed last season that the Strade Bianche suit him, so with the help of his experience in this race he’ll lead our selection. Although we have a line up of riders in a good condition at the start of this fantastic and hard race, luck also plays a role. The race is always nervous from the start. We have to join the early breakaway on the first or second gravel section, and protect Loïc Vliegen in the peloton behind. But, we’ll also need to pay attention to the scenario in which a large group with favorites already distances the peloton in the beginning of the race. We don’t have a race favorite in our team, but with this line up we can definitely play a role and finish in the top 10 or 15.”

Selection Strade Bianche:
Jan Bakelants
Théo Delacroix
Tom Devriendt
Andrea Pasqualon
Simone Petilli
Lorenzo Rota
Loïc Vliegen.
Sportive Direction: Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon.



ag2r cirtoen
Strade Bianche (March 6th)
Greg Van Avermaet has stepped onto the second step of the Strade Bianche podium twice, in 2015 and in 2017. Lilian Calmejane will race the Strade Bianche for the first time in his career. He will return to competition first at the Trofeo Laigueglia after recovering from his fall during the third stage of the Tour de La Provence.

Clément Venturini: “My form has been good since the start of the season, which makes it necessary to seize every opportunity to perform. After the Tour de la Provence and the Drôme Classic, I’m heading to Italy this week for the Trofeo Laigueglia and then the Strade Bianche. I have already raced the Strade in 2018. I have fond memories of it with the 2nd place for Romain Bardet. It reminds me of cyclocross with the white gravel roads. I can’t wait to start this race again. The objective this year will be to help Greg Van Avermaet.”



Strade Bianche: A WorldTour Debut for EOLO-KOMETA Cycling Team
Another debut. Another first time. Another day made of emotions with a hint of disbelief. On Saturday the EOLO-KOMETA team will be at the start of the fifteenth edition of the Strade Bianche: the first UCI World Tour category race for our team after the jump to the Professional team. And this alone would be enough to convey some of the adrenaline felt by the seven riders chosen to be at the start, which is the same as all the staff ready for a new chapter in the history of this team: an important race, a beautiful race.



Strade Bianche
Luke Roberts – Team DSM coach: “The forecast for this Saturday’s Strade Bianche looks to be a wet day, which could make this years edition quite an epic day in the saddle. We go to the race with a motivated group where we’re aiming for a good result with the team. We have Romain [Bardet] returning to the race for the first time since his second place in 2018, and after a good showing on the cobbles at Omloop last weekend. Cyclocrosser Joris and ex-mountain-biker Chris know how to handle themselves on the gravel roads, and they’ll both aim to make it far into the race providing us with options. We also have some solid support at the race with Thymen, Romain [Combaud], Martijn and Kevin.”

Thymen Arensman (NED)
Romain Bardet (FRA)
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Joris Nieuwenhuis (NED)
Martijn Tusveld (NED)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA).

Romain Bardet back at Strade Bianche:


Gogl and Clarke Excited to Return to White Roads of Strade Bianche
Team Qhubeka ASSOS will take the start of the famous Strade Bianche on Saturday. The famous Italian UCI World Tour single day classic will be run over 184km around the Siena countryside, including numerous white gravel road sectors.

Strade Bianche, one of the most exciting one day classics of the season, will see the UCI World Tour peloton descend upon the dusty white roads around Siena, for the 184km Strade Bianche.

At last year’s edition of the race, which took place under very different circumstances in August, due toCovid-19, Michael Gogl brilliantly fought his way to a 9th place finish. Our Austrian specialist has been eagerly awaiting his chance to return & lead our team on the white Tuscan roads.

Simon Clarke, our Australian road captain who showed his strong form at the Royal Bernard Drome Classic with a 5th place finish last week, will no doubt be calling upon his years of experience and the memory of finishing 8th in the 2019 edition of Strade Bianche, to get the best result possible for Team Qhubeka ASSOS on Saturday.

Another previous top 10 finisher of Strade Bianche, Robert Power, will be joined by fellow teammates Bert-Jan Lindeman, Emil Vinjebo, Mauro Schmid, Karel Vacek as they look to support Gogl and Clarke in what should be an incredible race on Saturday.

Team Qhubeka ASSOS would like to give our thanks to The British School in The Netherlands for their fantastic short video, which announces our 2021 Strade Bianche team!

Michael Gogl: “I think we have a really strong squad here for the race and as a team we have also shown some strong performances in the last races. I am really looking forward to Saturday and am super motivated after a strong Strade Bianche last year. I have been preparing really hard and well for this race, so I definitely feel ready. Of course in a race like this you need to have some luck or at least no bad luck because that can influence the race a lot, punctures, mechanical’s etc. so we hope for the best and look forward to Saturday.”

Simon Clarke: “Strade Bianche is by far my favourite race of the whole year so I’m super excited for this weekend. Doing it with a new team on new equipment and so far, so good. I am looking forward to attacking it on Saturday, we have a great team here with Michael Gogl also in great form so looking forward to working closely with him and trying to take home a good result for the team.”

Gogl and Clarke:


Strade Bianche
Albert Timmer – Team DSM coach: “After the cobbles last weekend, we’re ready to take on the gravel roads of Strade Bianche this Saturday for the first Women’s WorldTour race of the year. We head to the race with a well-balanced, strong team, and we have several options that we can play throughout the day. Floortje, Juliette and Liane all bring different qualities to the group and we aim to use each of their qualities well in the finale with some attacking racing. In Franziska, Leah and Wilma we have three strong support riders who will keep the other three safe and protected to go for it the finale, with Leah using her experience as road captain.”

Leah Kirchmann (CAN)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Wilma Olausson (SWE).

Franziska Koch:
Franziska Koch


bike exchange
Spratt to Lead a Strong Team BikeExchange Line-Up at Strade Bianche
Experienced 33-year-old Amanda Spratt will lead a strong Team BikeExchange squad at the 7th edition of the women’s Strade Bianche this Saturday, alongside new 2021 signing Ane Santesteban, who makes her debut in Team BikeExchange colours.

The six-rider team boast diverse talent with Clasica San Sebastian winner Lucy Kennedy and newly crowned New Zealand Champion Georgia Williams, both making their first appearance of the season in Europe, whilst Dutch compatriots Janneke Ensing and Moniek Tenniglo bring-in the horsepower.

A twisty and undulating 136km course features 8 sectors which adds up to a total of 31.4km of gravel roads (23.1% of the course). There are no particularly long climbs to speak of, but with an abundance of punchy hills, most significantly on the unpaved sections, it is one of the harder women’s one-day races on the WorldTour calendar.

Team BikeExchange Women at Strade Bianche:
Janneke Ensing (NED)
Lucy Kennedy (AUS)
Ane Santesteban (ESP)
Amanda Spratt (AUS)
Moniek Tenniglo (NED)
Georgia Williams (NZL).

Amanda Spratt: “I’m really excited to be at the start of Strade Bianche. For sure, it’s one of my favourite races on the calendar and it’s always so epic and iconic with the gravel roads. We are going there with a strong team and I will race for the first time with Ane Santesteban. Lucy Kennedy will have her first race in Europe coming back in from Australia with Georgia Williams, the new, New Zealand road race champion. My shape is good, and I think it was good to start with such a tough race as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and I’m happy to have that in the legs before Strade. If I have to point out some tricky sections I would say the San Martino in Grania sector with 9,5km of gravel, which is often wind and dangerous. Of course, the weather time can affect the race a lot.”

Alejandro Gonzalez-Tablas – Sport Director: “At Strade the goal is to have a strong start of the season. The riders have been training very hard during the winter and they already have some experience of the route, which is exactly the same as the previous year, and the riders know well where they have to be aware of dangers and aware of possible breakaways. Amanda will be our leader, but we have a very strong group who give us more opportunities. Both Lucy and Janneke have been top-10 in the past and also Ane did very well in this race previously.”

Amanda Spratt:
bike exchange


bike exchange
Team BikeExchange Men Head to Strade Bianche with Multiple Cards to Play
Team BikeExchange men line-up with a mixed squad providing different cards to play for this year’s edition of Strade Bianche, with the likes of last year’s seventh place finisher Brent Bookwalter, 22-year-old Australian Robert Stannard and the 2018 Vuelta a España champion Simon Yates heading the talented roster.

For the 15th edition, the peloton will cover 184km which includes 11 sectors accumulating to a total of 63km on gravel roads. Yates will make his season and racing debut on the white roads of Tuscany, looking to gain experiences as part of his preparation for this year’s Giro d’Italia, which features an important stage on gravel.

The WorldTour race is often known as ‘Europe’s most southern northern classic’ and with this, Team BikeExchange bring in powerhouses Jack Bauer and Chris Juul-Jensen with Nick Schultz and Barnabás Peák rounding out the mixed seven-rider team.

Team BikeExchange Men at Strade Bianche:
Jack Bauer (NZL)
Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Barnabás Peák (HUN)
Nick Schultz (AUS)
Robert Stannard (AUS)
Simon Yates (GBR).

Robert Stannard: “I’ve already raced Strade two times and it’s a race I am really looking for to and it’s definitely one of my best races of the season. This year, I’m going to Siena with the best form I’ve ever had for the race and my goal is to be with the best in the final and try to reach a good result in Piazza del Campo. For me, the weather we get is what it is and that doesn’t affect how I’m racing. It’s one of the most difficult races on the calendar and it will be more important how the race tactics will evolve after each gravel sector.”

Gene Bates – Sport Director: “Strade it’s a fantastic race with a very, very strong field which will make the 2021 edition even more difficult. Weather conditions will play an important role and now the forecast is for rain and could make a very long and tough race. We aren’t going in with just one leader, we have a few guys so we have some options to play in the finale. It is such a hard race that you need good legs and a little luck in the last part going back to Siena. When we will get at that point, it will be quite obvious who has the best legs to be supported for the finish. Robert Stannard will be one rider to have the opportunity to go for a result and he has strong teammates to help him to be in the right position before the crucial points. At the end, Strade it’s not dissimilar to a Belgian Classic, getting ready for the different climbs and I think we need to have the same approach.”



UAE Team Emirates Announces Squads for Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice
UAE Team Emirates has confirmed its line-up for the upcoming Strade Bianche and Paris-Nice WorldTour races as it continues its European Spring campaign.

On Saturday 6th March seven riders will line up for the 15th edition of the Strade Bianche which starts and ends in Siena (181km). The beautiful route through central Italy is packed with short, steep hills and 11 different sectors of white Tuscan gravel roads, after which the iconic race is named.

Sports Directors Andrej Hauptman (Slo), Manuele Mori (Ita) and team manager Matxin Fernandez will lead the team:

-Valerio Conti (Ita)
-Davide Formolo (Ita)
-Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
-Marco Marcato (Ita)
-Tadej Pogacar (Slo)
-Jan Polanc (Slo)
-Aleksandr Riabushenko (Bel)

Davide Formolo: “Last year I had an amazing day on the bike here and managed to finish second and climb on the podium. It was a really special feeling, also because it was shortly after the lockdown. It’s a race that suits me well and one I can do well in. I’ll start with less pressure this year as my condition is still building. Tadej is in good form at the moment and the idea is that we both make it deep into the final with as many teammates as possible. It can be an unpredictable race but that can play to our advantage on Saturday.”


On Sunday 7th March Alexander Kristoff will be back in action at Paris-Nice with an eye on the race’s sprint opportunities. The team goes into the eight-day race with a dynamic squad who will focus on stage victories; with Trentin and Kristoff leading the sprints and De La Cruz and Costa looking for opportunities in the hills. The seven-man team will be led by sports directors Fabio Baldato (Ita) and Fabrizio Guidi (Ita).

Paris – Nice
-Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
-David De La Cruz (Spa)
-Rui Costa (Por)
-Rui Oliveira (Por)
-Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
-Brandon McNulty (Usa)
-Matteo Trentin (Ita)

Alexander Kristoff: “There are a few stages here which suit me well. I last won a stage here 6 years ago so to repeat it would be nice. The main goal aside from wins will be to improve the shape ahead of the classics. Between myself and Trentin we are confident we can have a great spring campaign for the team. For the GC we will be here with De La Cruz and McNulty, but our team is full of guys who could potentially win stages.”



Paris-Nice 2021: The Battle Lines Start to be Drawn
Each season’s beginning brings with it a number of questions and uncertainties. This is even more true as the start to Paris-Nice 2021 approaches, with postponements and cancellations of races in the first weeks of the year added to significant changes in team compositions and jerseys during the winter. In an already shaky cycling world in March 2020, Germany’s Max Schachmann won authoritatively after taking control on the very first stage of the race. There is no guarantee of a repeat on the route into Saint-Cyr-l’Ecole, but then again nothing prevents him from believing in a second success if he can prove to be better than his rivals on the time-trial at Gien, then in Chiroubles or also on La Colmiane. His plans could come up against a major obstacle in the form of Primoz Roglič, who will be making the first appearance of his career on the Race to the Sun, supported in the ranks of Jumbo-Visma by George Bennett and Steven Kruijswijk. The title to be won in Nice may seem to be reaching out to him, but the Slovenian world number 1 also does not always win! Indeed, he could be challenged by Team DSM, formerly Sunweb, who began the 2020 vintage of Paris-Nice in lively fashion, thanks to Kragh Andersen (who won the time-trial at Saint-Amand-Montrond) and Tiesj Benoot (2nd in the general classification). The two men will be accompanied this year by Australian Jai Hindley, who finished 2nd on the Giro 2020 and who will be keen to have his word to say in the outcome.

Paris-Nice 2021 is also an invitation for the Ineos Grenadiers team to show a new face after an underwhelming year in 2020. Indeed, the British team will be counting on its rider who stood out the most, by shining on the roads of Italy. For the occasion, Tao Geoghegan Hart will be supported by Richie Porte, 3rd on the Tour de France and two-time winner of the Race to the Sun (in 2013 and 2015), who has returned to the squad where he enjoyed his best successes. The French riders could spoil the party for the favourites, and, during their first outings of the year, have displayed form that allows them to aim for the leading positions. Such is the case for David Gaudu, who was victorious last weekend in the Ardèche, while Warren Barguil and Guillaume Martin also looked dynamic.

When looking through the list of participants, it becomes evident that there will be fierce battle for all the winners’ bouquets handed out during the week. Classics specialists such as Bob Jungels, Philippe Gilbert, Matteo Trentin, Mads Pedersen and Dylan Teuns will, for example, have their eyes on the stages at Chiroubles or Biot, while top level sprint finishes are to be expected in Saint-Cyr, Amilly or Bollène. The most prolific winner of 2020, Arnaud Démare, has already won three stages on Paris-Nice, but will have to tackle an enormous field of speedsters this year: Sam Bennett, Pascal Ackermann, Alexander Kristoff, Michael Matthews, Sonny Colbrelli, John Degenkolb, Giacomo Nizzolo, Jasper Philipsen, Nacer Bouhanni, Bryan Coquard, Christophe Laporte and Hugo Hofstetter are unlikely to be content with playing supporting roles, but there will not be room for everyone at the top of the pile.

Key points:
The 2021 edition of Paris-Nice, which will start on Sunday 7th March in the Yvelines department, will give a number of insights into the form of some of the main players in elite cycling pack, at a stage of the season when the indicators are still vague.
Ø For all that, the battle has already commenced between Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers: for the first time on the Race to the Sun, the Dutch team will be lining up Primoz Roglič, who has not raced competitively since his triumph on the Vuelta, while the British squad will be placing their hopes in the winner of the Giro d’Italia, Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Ø Title holder Max Schachmann and his BORA-hansgrohe colleagues as well as the DSM Team of Jai Hindley will be looking to join in the contest for victory, while David Gaudu, among others, will be defending French hopes of success.
Ø Beyond the stakes of the general classification, stage wins on the sprint finishes will be especially sought after. Arnaud Démare will be up against tough rivals such as Sam Bennett, Michael Matthews, John Degenkolb, Giacomo Nizzolo, Nacer Bouhanni and Bryan Coquard.

Team BikeExchange: Matthews (Aus)

Bahrain Victorious: Colbrelli (Ita), Poels (Ned), Teuns (Bel)

Deceuninck-Quick Step: Cavagna (Fra), Bennett (Irl)
Lotto Soudal: Degenkolb (Ger), Gilbert, De Gendt (Bel)
Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux: Eiking (Nor), Meintjes (Saf)
Alpecin-Fenix: Philipsen (Bel)

AG2R Citroën Team: Jungels (Lux), Naesen (Bel), Paret-Peintre (Fra)
Cofidis: Martin, Laporte (Fra)
Groupama-FDJ: Démare, Gaudu (Fra)
Total Direct Energie: Boasson Hagen (Nor), Latour, Vuillermoz (Fra)
Team Arkea-Samsic: Barguil, Bouhanni (Fra)
B&B Hotels p/b KTM: Coquard, Hivert (Fra)

Bora-Hansgrohe: Schachmann, Ackermann (Ger), Grossschartner (Aut)
Team DSM: Kragh Andersen (Den), Benoot (Bel), Hindley (Aus)

Israel Start-Up Nation: Hofstetter (Fra)

Astana–Premier Tech: Lutsenko (Ukr), Vlasov (Rus), Fraile, L.L. Sanchez (Spa)

Jumbo-Visma: Roglic (Slo), Bennett (NZ), Kruijswijk (Ned)

South Africa
Team Qhubeka Assos: Walscheid (Ger), Aru, Nizzolo (Ita), Henao (Col)

Movistar Team: Mühlberger (Aut), Rojas (Spa)

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Kristoff (Nor), Trentin (Ita), De la Cruz (Spa)

United Kingdom
Ineos Grenadiers: Geoghegan Hart (UK), Porte, Dennis (Aus)

EF Education Nippo: Powless (USA), Nielsen (Den)
Trek-Segafredo: Elissonde (Fra), M.Pedersen (Den).


Marc Reef – Team DSM coach: “We go to Paris-Nice in quest of a good team GC result and success in the sprints. After an extremely strong showing here last year with Tiesj finishing second overall, we’ll look to take the same process again, using a day by day approach to see what next steps we can take in his GC development. We need to be attentive as a unit in the first three stages because as we saw last season, the wind can split the race up, so riding well as a group there is important. An individual time trial follows, before three tough days around Nice will decide the final GC. We have a really well mixed team for the race, with Søren and Jai able to ride strongly in the hills and mountains, while Casper, Nils and Jasha will provide the firepower on the flat. Cees will of course be our guy for the fast sprints and we’ll build a strong lead-out around him to really go for it on those days.”

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Tiesj Benoot (BEL)
Cees Bol (NED)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER).

Tiesj Benoot:


Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Paris-Nice
Sam Bennett is back in France for the first time since winning the prestigious green jersey at last year’s Le Tour.

Paris-Nice will start for the 12th consecutive year from the Yvelines department, with the small town of St. Cyr-L’Ecole welcoming the riders on Sunday for a stage that could see either the sprinters or the attackers prevail, and that’s due to its up-and-down course. Monday should be the first clear opportunity for the peloton’s fast men to fight for victory – that is if the crosswinds will agree – before a rolling 14.4km individual time trial that will create some gaps between the yellow jersey contenders on stage 3.

From there, the peloton will head to Chiroubles for a punchy day featuring seven classified climbs, including the Mont Brouilly, where Julian Alaphilippe won an ITT four years ago. As the race will continue its progression towards the Mediterranean, Thursday will mark a return on flat terrain which will be followed by three stages that will be decisive in the final outcome: Biot, La Colmiane (16.3km, 6.3%) and Nice, with the last of these set to feature again the iconic Col d’Èze (1.6km, 8.1%).

Winner of two stages at the first World Tour appointment of the year, the UAE Tour, Sam Bennett will make his first appearance in Europe this season and will once again rely on trusted lead-out man Michael Mørkøv to guide him in the sprints, but also on Florian Sénéchal, whose skills were instrumental in the team’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory.

“Paris-Nice is a race with a lot of history, and at the same time, a very hard race. Normally it has a lot of crosswinds, so it’s good to come here having that week of racing in the Middle East in the legs, where I got used to this kind of aggressive racing. There should be some nice opportunities for the sprinters, the team is very strong and hopefully I’ll have good legs again so we can continue our season on the same note”, said the best sprinter of last year’s Tour de France.

Mattia Cattaneo, French ITT Champion Rémi Cavagna – who’ll get to show his beautiful tricolour jersey on stage 3 – Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert will complete our seven-man squad for the 79th edition of the “Race to the Sun”, to which the Wolfpack is looking forward, as explained by sports director Tom Steels: “Paris-Nice is one of the biggest stage races out there and this year we have a good shot at getting some nice results with Sam, but we want to see also what Rémi and Yves can do in the time trial. Same goes for Mattia, who had a solid UAE Tour last week and we are now curious to discover what he can do in the general classification.”

07.03–14.03 Paris-Nice (FRA) 2.UWT

Sam Bennett (IRL)
Mattia Cattaneo (ITA)
Rémi Cavagna (FRA)
Tim Declercq (BEL)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Michael Mørkøv (DEN)
Florian Sénéchal (FRA).
Sports Director: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).



ag2r cirtoen
Paris-Nice 2021
In five days of racing, Dorian Godon, who will race in his first Paris-Nice, has finished three times in the top six (6th in the first stage of the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, 5th in the Ardèche Classic, 6th in the Drôme Classic).

Bob Jungels: “After the cancellation of the Ruta del Sol, I decided to do a three week training camp in Sierra Nevada (Spain). I did a great load of work there with perfect weather. Today I am in the form I need to be in order to start the season well and I cannot wait to kick off. Paris-Nice is a good objective, with a difficult course and a time trial. I hope to take the highest possible place in the overall classification ahead of doing the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and the Ardennes classics, which are also important goals. We have a great team and we have already shown in recent weeks that the group is competitive. I feel ready. I am happy to start the season. I got along really well with the whole team during the training camp in Spain in January and I am very proud to be part of the AG2R Citroën Team project.”



2021 Volta a Catalunya Route
The organisers of the Volta a Catalunya presented the route for the anniversary edition later this month. The seven-day WorldTour race has an individual time trial of 18 kilometres on the second day, followed by two uphill finishes, first a mountain stage to Vallter 2000 and then a stage with a finish at Port Ainé.

The opening stage takes the riders over three climbs, including Port de Santa Fe del Montseny, but the finish is down in Calella. Because of the centenary anniversary, a time trial has be added to the route. The organisers hopes that the first overall differences will be made in the chrono. On the third day the riders climb to an altitude of 2,125 metres. The finish is after a virtually flat stage on top of the 11 kilometre Vallter 2000. Stage four may be the Queen Stage. After the Port de Toses (cat 1) and the Port d’El Cantó (hors cat), the finish is at Pont Ainé after 166 kilometres. The stage to Manresa has a tough finalé, with the top of the Port de Montserrat at 25 kilometres from the finish, and the penultimate stage also goes up and down all day. Just before the finish in Mataró is the short, but steep Alt El Collet. The final stage goes around Barcelona and has a final on the well-known circuit of the Alt del Castell de Montjuïc.

The 100th edition of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya is on the calendar from March 22-28. Last year, the stage race was not held due to the corona virus. Miguel Ángel López was the last winner of the Volta in 2019, he beat Adam Yates and Egan Bernal.

Volta a Catalunya 2021 (March 22-28):
Stage 1: Calella – Calella (178.4 km)
Stage 2: Banyoles – Banyoles (18.5 km, ITT)
Stage 3: Canal Olímpic de Catalunya – Vallter 2000 / Setcases (203.1 km)
Stage 4: Ripoll – Port Ainé (166.5 km)
Stage 5: La Pobla de Segur – Manresa (201.1 km)
Stage 6: Tarragona – Mataró (193.8 km)
Stage 7: Barcelona – Barcelona (133 km).

López in Catalunya 2019:
catalunya lopez


Amstel Gold Race Hopes for Clarity on Friday for the 2021 Edition
This Friday, Amstel Gold Race hopes to clarify whether the 2021 edition can be run. The organisers are in talks with the South Limburg safety committee about the requirements that the Classic must meet in order to be take place during these corona times on Sunday 18 April.

On behalf of the Amstel Gold Race, Leo van Vliet and Roy Packbier are conducting talks with the security committee. It is expected that this week an answer will be given to the question of whether the men’s and women’s races can be held. The plan that Van Vliet and Packbier presented for the Amstel Gold Race in 2021 is one without an audience and with a local circuit of approximately 18 kilometres between Valkenburg and Maastricht. Last year the race was canceled twice, such a plan was also on the table. The local government didn’t agree with that at the time.

“In any case, we are going for a race on a course that is easy to close for visitors from outside. There will be no VIP village or the like,” said race director Leo van Vliet.

Will we see the peloton and the windmills in 2021?


header UEC
Pontevedra Wants to Organise European Cyclocross Championships 2023 or 2024
Pontevedra will apply to the European Cycling Union (UEC) to host the European Cyclocross Championships in 2023 or 2024. The organiser of the local cyclocross races told Ciclo 21. The plan to have the cyclocross World Championship in Galica has been put on hold for a while.

The locations for the cyclocross World Championships have already been designated up to and including 2025, so Pontevedra has abandoned that plan. The Galician city is now aiming at the European Cyclocross Championship in 2023 or 2024. “We know that there will be a lot of competition from locations in Belgium, the Netherlands and France, which put a lot of weight into the battle. That is why it will be difficult to win the European Championship.”

In 2019 and 2020, Pontevedra hosted the Spanish Cyclocross Championship and, in addition to organising the European Championship, is also aiming for a round of the Cyclocross World Cup in the near future.

U23 Euro cross champs 2020:
euro cross 20 mason


giro 21
Happy birthday Maglia Rosa! The 2021 Maglia Rosa, Designed by Castelli, Unveiled
For the sixth year it’s sponsored by Enel.


This year, the Giro d’Italia celebrates 90 years of the Maglia Rosa, worn to date by 254 riders. The 2021 Maglia Rosa will have the names of all of those who’ve worn it written on the jersey. In addition, a phrase from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia – “Disposto a salire a le stelle” (“Willing to rise to the stars”) – chosen from many submitted on the Giro’s social networks will be imprinted inside the collar. For the occasion, a communication project’s been in development and will begin on 8 March with a virtual exhibition. This is in collaboration with the Ghisallo Museum and focuses on the history of the Maglia Rosa. Finally, a weekly social-media initiative will revisit a decade in the history of the Maglia Rosa, starting from 1931.

The Giro d’Italia is preparing to celebrate its symbol, the Maglia Rosa, which turns 90. The initiative, which runs from March to September, will involve fans of great cycling and especially the fan base of the Corsa Rosa.

An icon of professional cycling, the Maglia Rosa was introduced in 1931 by Armando Cougnet, sports journalist for La Gazzetta dello Sport, the newspaper that created the Giro d’Italia over 20 years earlier. The idea was to identify a symbol that would make the rider at the top of the General Classification visible, to allow spectators to distinguish him from all the others. Back in 1931, the first to wear the Maglia Rosa was Learco Guerra from Mantua. It’s a tradition that lives on to this day at the most important cycling stage race in the world.

The inspiration for the 2021 Maglia Rosa came from seeing 2020 winner Tao Geoghegan Hart in Rosa for the first time on the final podium in Milano. By wearing this iconic jersey, Geoghegan Hart, like all who’d gone before him, entered into cycling history. Now, in 2021, the wearer of the Maglia Rosa will wear the names of the past winners wrapped around the stripes of the jersey like on the Trofeo Senza Fine. It’s a true homage to the 90 years of the Maglia Rosa, complemented by a gold logo on the upper back to go along with the gold zipper pull and the Trofeo symbols on the sleeves.


It’s not only the heritage that’s celebrated with this jersey. The new Maglia Rosa has been developed in the wind tunnel for aerodynamics without compromising lightweight and breathability. Together with fabric producer Sitip, 100% recycled yarns have been used to lessen the environmental impact of a jersey that both celebrates the past and looks ahead to the future.

From the beginning of March, RCS Sport, organiser of the Giro d’Italia, will start an initiative dedicated to the celebration of the Maglia Rosa. From Monday 8 March, an interactive virtual exhibition will be online, designed in collaboration with the Ghisallo Museum and ACdB, which will allow fans to immerse themselves in the history of the Giro d’Italia.

Starting on that same day, and running over the following nine weeks, is a memorable story rich with historic images, never-seen-before videos, articles and La Gazzetta dello Sport front pages that chart the greatest victories of the Maglia Rosa. The story will be divided over decades and the content will be visible on the social profiles of the Giro d’Italia.

A social initiative for the Corsa Rosa community (currently over three-million people) will also be staged between March and April. It has the title La Maglia Rosa dei 90 anni and will see fans vote for the most loved Maglia Rosa ever.


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Kluisberg and Kruisberg in the Dwars door Vlaanderen Route
The course of the Dwars door Vlaanderen has become a bit tougher with the addition of the Kluisberg and Kruisberg. The Kluisberg replaces the Nieuwe Kwaremont as the first climb of the day, while the Kruisberg is 42 kilometres from the finish.

The Kluisberg is not a new climb to the Dwars door Vlaanderen, it was the second climb in previous editions. “Our final is now a lot more spicy and more balanced,” race organiser, Guy Delesie, said to Sporza.

Due to the corona virus, the race will use a different starting location. The Grote Markt in Roeselare was previously where the start line was painted, it is now the more remote Stadion Schiervelde of football club KSV Roeselare. “We can keep it under control there and close the site to the public. That was impossible on the Grote Markt of Roeselare. We want to call on people once again not to come and watch the race. However difficult it may be in race-mad Flanders: stay away from the race,” said Delesie.

Mathieu van der Poel is the last winner of the Flemish semi-classic because the corona virus caused the cancelation of the race in 2020. The Dutch champion won in 2019. This year Dwars door Vlaanderen takes place on March 31.

Van der Poel in 2019:
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Pogačar Extends Contract with UAE Team Emirates Through to 2026
Further contract extension for recent UAE Tour winner
It was a case of double celebration for both Tadej Pogačar and the Emirati squad after the UAE Tour victory, as the young Slovenian also committed himself the team until at least 2026.

Matar Al Yabhouni, President of UAE Team Emirates said: “Tadej is our present and our future. He is a rider who was able to win the Tour de France despite his young age and still managed to handle the pressure of such a great success. He showed great poise and determination to win the UAE Tour, a race that is growing year after year and is of obvious importance to us. I am sure that we will continue to achieve important successes together going forward.”

Having clinched his first victory of the season at the UAE Tour, Tadej Pogačar is excited about the years ahead: “I feel at home in this team; there is a special atmosphere between the management, riders and staff and it’s a good environment to be in. The team shows a lot of trust and confidence in me which I am thankful for, and I work hard to show that when I’m racing alongside my teammates. I hope we can have many more successful seasons together in the years ahead.”

Mauro Gianetti, Team Principal & CEO: “We are happy to announce the further extension of Tadej’s contract with us. He strongly believes in our project as we do in his abilities. It is already the third time we’ve extended his contract which shows his commitment to the project we are building here at UAE Team Emirates. We are creating a real group, united, with an atmosphere that I don’t remember in all my years in cycling. I am particularly proud of this.”

Pogačar, the future of UAE:
colnago pgacar


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Sweeck Not Going to Tormans CX: “End of Speculations”
There is no question of a transfer for Laurens Sweeck to Tormans CX. Jurgen Mettepenningen, manager of Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal, announced on social media. “Laurens still has a contract until the end of 2022 with Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal. So this puts an end to speculations,” said Mettepenningen.

On behalf of Tormans CX, sponsor Jan Tormans announced that it was agreed to recruit Laurens Sweeck so he could become a teammate of Corné van Kessel and Quinten Hermans. “We are looking at how we can strengthen our team with a good cyclocross rider. I have already spoken to Laurens and also Jurgen Mettepenningen.”

“They are willing, but Mettepenningen wants Laurens to cancel his contract. We will try to find a middle ground,” the sponsor continued. “Laurens would love to come and ride with us. Then we can also win a little more crosses.” Not long after the man behind Tormans had spoken on RTV, Mettepenningen responded on Twitter. The manager of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal put an end to the rumours: he will keep Sweeck to his contract.

Laurens Sweeck:


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Emiel Planckaert Retired at 24
Emiel Planckaert has announced the end of his cycling career. After three seasons at Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, the 24-year-old rider was unable to find a team for the new season.

Planckaert, who’s last race was Paris-Tours in October, announced his retirement via social media. “After the sixteen most beautiful years of my life, I have to say goodbye to the most beautiful sport with regret in my hart, involuntary and unexpected. The past three seasons were filled with bad luck, setbacks and force majeure, which unfortunately meant that I was no longer offered a chance to prove myself in the peloton of 2021. The motivation and enthusiasm were still there, but unfortunately I did not get a place in a team.”

In his junior years, Planckaert achieved several good results. In 2014 he was ninth in the Tour of Flanders and thirteenth at the World Championships in Ponferrada. When an Under 23 he rode to twelfth place in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Lombardy. In 2017 he gained his first professional experience as a stagiere at Lotto Soudal. Since 2018 he has been racing as a professional for Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise. “You will certainly see me again in the races, but from now on, on the other side of the crush barriers,” he concluded.

Emiel Planckaert:
Emiel Planckaert


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Team Novo Nordisk Development Confirmed as UCI Continental Team for 2021
Ahead of their first races of the 2021 season Team Novo Nordisk Development Team received some welcome news from the UCI confirming their step up to the Continental Team classification.

In a move that marks another progressive step forward in the whole development of the Team Novo Nordisk family, the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team will now have two squads competing professionally across the world.

“The idea of bumping the team up to a Continental Team has been something I’ve been hoping to be able to do for a several years now,” explained devo team manager Daniel Holt. “I’m happy to say that I believe the team can be competitive at this level now. One thing that really helped solidify the decision this season is that now the devo and pro teams have the ability to share some riders at races, giving the organisation the opportunity to continue the development of riders at all levels.”

“The Devo team has basically been racing at this level for years now. A big part of our calendar has included UCI 1.2 and 2.2 races with many other Continental teams. One big difference this year though is that we will not have a team base in the USA, so there won’t be any domestic racing on the calendar. Filling the gap will be more European races with much bigger fields. This will be challenging for the younger riders and they will need to adapt quickly. I have confidence in the guys to do this well though. Here’s to a good season of learning!”

The level of competition will be stronger but making the jump to a European racing program will suit most of the squad as there is already a strong international backbone to the team with the majority of the roster coming from Europe.

Moving up in this way highlights the continued commitment of Team Novo Nordisk and their sponsors to the global diabetes community and couldn’t have come in a more significant year as 2021 marks the centenary of the discovery of insulin and now two pro teams will be carrying that message and that celebratory number on their jerseys as they jostle for space in the pro peloton.

“In 2020 the devo team had a great year of growth and success,” said Team Novo Nordisk CEO and Co-Founder Phil Southerland. “Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19 we as an organisation managed to overcome significant obstacles to make big leaps forward and the progression of our young development team to the level of Continental Team for 2021 is a clear sign of our intention to keep on moving forward.”

“We are proud to be able to celebrate the lifesaving anniversary of the discovery of insulin in 2021 by having more of our riders out there on the world stage, helping us all to continue to change diabetes for all those whose lives it affects and it’s important to remember that these are our champions and heroes of tomorrow.”

The multiple benefits of having two pro teams competing around the world is something that is not lost on the team’s executive management as Team Novo Nordisk General Manager Vassili Davidenko explained.

“There are several factors that lead us to the decision to move the Development team to Continental level,” concluded Davidenko. “Access to more international races, the opportunity to test devo riders more often with the pro team and also help us to provide better support to the team. In general, we believe it will help us to provide smooth development and to continue to move riders on to the next level – the senior professional team.”

“It is the next step for us, and we are prepared to approach and overcome challenges. The rider’s fitness will be well aligned with the races we want to participate in, and we are ready for more with full confidence and excitement. Together with Novo Nordisk affiliates, we’ll have more opportunities to highlight our mission and more people will be inspired during this special year of 100-years since the discovery of insulin.”

Team Novo Nordisk Development Team begin their 2021 season on Wednesday, March 3rd in Croatia at the UCI 1.2 categorised Trofej Umag/Umag Trophy.



Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec Still Wants Giro Wildcard
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec wants to participate in the Giro d’Italia this year. The Italian team did not receive a wildcard from race organisers RCS and team boss Gianni Savio was furious about that. Now he appeals to the MPCC.

In an open letter to the MPCC, the movement for credible cycling, Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec once again shares the disappointment. “Is cycling in which the sporting ethical principles are not taken into account still credible? Not for us, but clearly for the organisation of the Giro d’Italia.” Alpecin-Fenix, Bardiani CSF Faizanè, EOLO-Kometa and Vini Zabù were invited.

Savio believes his team deserves one of the three wild cards, as Androni has been “absolutely superior” to the other teams that did receive a wildcard over the past four years, based on results. “In fact, we are the best Italian professional team at the international level, in the UCI World Ranking, in the Europe Tour and the Ciclismo Cup,” said Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec.

At the beginning of this year, the UCI decided to expand the number of wildcards. “We were convinced that at least one of them would be given on a sports basis. That is why we are shocked that we did not receive the invitation that we deserve. Given this terrible decision by RCS Sport, we are asking the MPCC to formally intervene to ensure credibility,” the statement concludes.

Savio not happy:


Video: UAE Tour 2021
“A dream has been realised” – Relive the highlights from UAE Tour 2021 with the overall victory of Tadej Pogačar and the overall team classification. It truly was a full team effort!


Behind the scenes at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
In the latest video, Kasper Asgreen and Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels take you behind the scenes at the second cobbled race of the season, making an analysis of the way things panned out last Sunday for the Wolfpack and talking about the team’s future goals.



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