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We live in difficult times, the COVID-19 pandemic and now race riots. USA Cycling joins the debate on racism – Top Story. The Tour/Giro/Vuelta are still in the balance, as is the rest of the season. Lots of rider, race and team news. Stuybar races in Czech Republic, Germany has its first race and Deceuninck – Quick-Step have a training camp. ‘New Normal’ on the way? And Het Laatste Nieuws summarises the ESPN Lance Armstrong documentary.

top story
TOP STORY: USA Cycling Joins Debate on Racism
The American cycling federation, USA Cycling, has taken part in the international discussion that is currently being held about racism. The federation puts its hand in its own chest. “As a forerunner in the American cycling community, we admit that we were part of the problem of inequality and representation in our sport,” writes USA Cycling.

“No conversation can change the past. We have to use our position in society to embrace each other, stand up and ride together with the black community of our cycling family,” the union said on social media. “We must ensure equality, equity, transparency and dignity.”

“Being able to cycle is a privilege to safely discover the cities and paths in our country. We pride ourselves on being ambassadors for that. USA Cycling will make its voice heard as a national sports federation, in a sport that continues to grow with integration and that is committed to stimulating necessary change.”

#BlackLivesMatter
USA Cycling’s message ends with “Because #BlackLivesMatter”. There have been protests in the United States for days after the death of George Floyd, a black American. His death – after a white policeman pressed a knee to his neck for several minutes – led to much discussion, unrest and violence in America and now in other countries of the world.

usa cycling

ineos
Richard Carapaz Racing Up to the Giro d’Italia
Richard Carapaz has mapped out his route that should bring him a pink jersey in the Giro d’Italia. Carapaz wants to start its second part of the season with the Vuelta a Burgos, reports the Spanish sports paper AS. It remains to be seen whether that tour will be held, because the local authorities have yet to give the green light. Then the Ecuadorian should ride the Tour of Poland and Tirreno-Adriatico in the run-up to the Giro.

It was exactly a year ago that he took the final win in La Corsa Rosa. Earlier he announced that he remains committed to the ambition to contest and win the Giro again. “This year I am the only leader of Ineos. With the support of the entire team, it is our ambition to repeat my 2019 success.”

Preliminary Richard Carapaz program:
Vuelta a Burgos (July 28-August 1)
Tour of Poland (August 5-9)
Tirreno-Adriatico (September 7-14)
Giro d’Italia (3-25 October).

Another pink jersey for Carapaz?
carapaz

B&B
B&B Hotels-Vital Concept Announces Tour Team
The Tour de France (August 29-September 20) will start in three months time in the coastal city of Nice, but B&B Hotels-Vital Concept already has a pre-selection of ten riders on paper. Bryan Coquard and Pierre Rolland have a chance, but Tom-Jelte Slagter is missing.

Team manager Jérôme Pineau announced in a video message that ten riders have a chance of winning a place in the Tour selection. “Changes may still take place, given the difficult situation we are currently in.”

These are the B&B Hotels-Vital Concept riders: Coquard, Rolland, Debusschere, Backaert, Barthe, Gautier, Pacher, Chevalier, Schönberger and Reza. Two riders will drop out, as the team will select eight riders for the upcoming Tour.

Arthur Vichot and Tom-Jelte Slagter are not part of the pre-selection for the French race. After two seasons at Dimension Data, Slagter moved to ProContinentaal level. The 30-year-old puncheur already raced three stage races this year: the Saudi Tour, Tour de la Provence and Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. His best result was a fourth place in the opening stage of the Saudi Tour.

The 31-year-old Vichot was recruited two years ago and is one of the top men of the team, but the two-time road champion had to deal with physical problems and a viral infection. Vichot, past winner of the Tour du Haut Var and the Tour de l’Ain, was unable to reach his usual level and now sees an eighth Tour participation passing by.

Arthur Vichot winning stage 8 of Paris-Nice 2014:
Nice - France wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Arthur Vichot (France / Team FdJ - Uvex) pictured during stage 8 of Paris - Nice from Nice to Nice - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2014

deceuninck
Zdenek Stybar With a Number on His Back
Zdenek Stybar has had his first race kilometres since the outbreak of Covid-19. On Tuesday he participated in a local race in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

We still have to wait for official UCI races and there is no racing, except in the Czech Republic. So Zdenek Stybar returned to his roots: in Pilsen, about thirty kilometres west of his native village of Stribro, he took part in a local race.

It was a race over 66 kilometres, one that the Deceuninck – Quick-Step pro knows from his youth. “An old tradition,” he said on Instagram. “I raced here twenty years ago.” Stybar, who started with the number one jersey, competed against local teams from Pilsen, Prague and Tabor. Petr Kelemen won the race, Zdenek Stybar finished fourth.

stybar

ef
Higuita Happy to Train at Altitude
The Colombian cyclists were not allowed to train outside for a long time, but Sergio Higuita is not worried in the run-up to the restart of the season. In fact, the EF Pro Cycling rider expects the Colombians to have an advantage. “We can just train at altitude.”

Higuita looks ahead to the coming months with El Tiempo. The 22-year-old climbing goat hopes to travel to Europe soon. The Colombian Cycling Federation is busy arranging a charter flight to Europe, as the Colombian government has extended the international flying ban until August 31.

Higuita is a bit concerned about the trip to Europe and possible coronavirus infections. “It is therefore important to take the right precautions when we start racing again. The organisers will take the right measures,” said Higuita. “Strict security measures are taken in Europe.”

“We also see that things are moving in the right direction with regard to the virus in many European countries. It is still unclear exactly what to do once we are in Europe. We will be tested for the coronavirus, but when can we train again?” The big question is whether riders from Colombia can complete a thorough preparation for the Tour.

Oliver Naesen expects a “cyclism à deux vitesses” when races start again. In short, the riders who have been able to train outside will, according to him, be better than all riders who were not allowed to train outside. Higuita: “I don’t think the Colombian riders will start the season with a delay.”

“Most riders in Colombia live at altitude. The advantage is that we can already train at two thousand metres above sea level, unlike riders from Europe.” This season, Higuita is fully focused on his first Tour de France, but will also participate in the Tour of Lombardy and the Ardennes classics.

“I can compete in good shape for the victory in the Flèche Wallonne. The course is really written on my body. It is a tough race and the finish at the Muur du Huy Wall is really great.” Higuita was previously in doubt about participation.

Higuita winning stage 4 of the Colombia Tour:
huguita

astana
Miguel Ángel López Talks about the Corona Break
Miguel Ángel López can’t wait to pin number on again, especially now that the cycling season has been halted for several months because of the corona virus. “Our team managers and coaches are busy with the race programs and training camps, but I only want one thing: racing,” said López on the Astana team website.

26-year-old López started the season with a victory in the Volta ao Algarve, but a few weeks after his stage victory on the Alto do Malhão, cycling was hit hard by the corona crisis. However, the Colombian climber is looking to the future with optimism again, now that the UCI has published a revised calendar.

“It is great that we now know when riders are allowed to race again, namely from August to November. I especially hope to be able to cycle again as soon as possible. I want to return to a normal situation as soon as possible. The sooner, the better,” said López, who is getting ready for his Tour debut.

The former winner of the Tour of Switzerland looks back on an eventful period. “We are all going through a difficult period. You have to be really strong mentally to find the motivation to keep training during this time. However, my family supported me and I could also count on the team. That way I could keep my motivation.”

López is now allowed to train on the road in his home country of Colombia, now that the government has relaxed the corona measures for all Colombian professional cyclists. “I can now slowly work towards my top form.”

Algarve’20 stage 4 win for Lopez:
lopez

deceuninck
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to hold classics training camp in the Flemish Ardennes
This will be the first gathering of members of the team since before the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in Europe and will hopefully be part of the process that can see a return to racing in August.

The camp will be held on the week commencing 15th June and will consist of three days of training in Northern Belgium. Rather than a hotel, the use of a large house has sourced, meaning that those attending do not have to take any unnecessary health risks and contact to those outside of the team can be kept to be a minimum. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step medical team are also working on a plan to ensure that all of the riders and staff attending the team will be tested for Covid-19 either before they travel or immediately upon arrival, with stringent medical protocols and precautions being in place throughout the camp, to help minimise the chances of infection.

Speaking of the camp, team coach Koen Pilgrim said: “It is more a case of getting the group together, rather than having any hugely structured training sessions, as most of the guys have been following structured programs that the coaches have set for them for several weeks now. We will also be using it as an opportunity to recon the routes of some of the cobbled classics, like Flanders and Gent–Wevelgem. We would like to do Roubaix too, but we would have to cross the border, which may be complicated right now, but we will get in some good training anyway. More than anything it is about getting the group together and having some fun on the bikes after such a long time apart.”

The team will also be looking to hold an altitude training camp in June, with details still to be confirmed.

Time to train:
deceuninck training

uae
UAE Team Emirates to the Ventoux Challenge
UAE Team Emirates has revealed part of its roster for the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge. Sergio Henao and Andrés Camilo Ardila are allowed to prepare for the French climbing course in Provence, which has been moved to August 6 due to the corona virus, according to Colombian media.

Henao, 32, will provide the experience to assist his talented countryman Ardila (20). Ardila will make his debut with UAE Team Emirates this season after winning the Giro d’Italia for U23 last year. Earlier this season, he finished 19th in the Tour of Colombia. The participation of the American Joe Dombrowski has also been confirmed.

The Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge will climb the infamous mountain twice in early August, if the global corona virus situation permits. After more than eighty kilometres, the riders start for the first time on Mont Ventoux, but from Chalet Reynard they find their way back to the valley. The second climb goes to the top. Initially, a double ascent of the Ventoux was not considered possible due to roadworks.

Jesús Herrada beat Romain Bardet in the first edition last season:
herrada

lotto soudal
Florian Vermeersch Signs for Lotto Soudal
For Florian Vermeersch, his professional career will starts with the Belgian Lotto Soudal team in December, where he put his signature on his first professional contract. The Belgian U23 champion is scheduled to make the switch from the development team.

Vermeersch (21) is known as a fast man with the necessary skills. He became National champion in the U23 category in Habay la Neuve last season, he won the Tour of Midden-Brabant and he won three stages and the final classification in the Tour de Moselle. “Florian is really a talent. He is strong and has great potential,” said team manager John Lelangue.

Lelangue emphasised when Vermeersch announced that 2019 was only his first season on the road, having previously been active as a cyclocross rider. “We are going to calmly bring Florian on. We will mainly use him in smaller stage races. Our young talents, trained by Kurt Van de Wouwer, are given the opportunity to grow.”

Florian Vermeersch:
vermeersch

ag2r
Alexis Vuillermoz extends his contract until 2021
Alexis Vuillermoz (31) has signed up for another season with the AG2R-LA MONDIALE team. He has been a professional since 2013 and a member of our team since 2014. Alexis Vuillermoz has taken 9 victories wearing the jersey of the AG2R-LA MONDIALE team, including the 8th stage of the Tour de France in 2015 at the top of the Mur de Bretagne.

Alexis Vuillermoz: “I am touched by this sign of confidence that Vincent Lavenu and the staff of the AG2R-LA MONDIALE team have shown me. I am coming out of two complicated seasons. I fractured my kneecap in August and I haven’t raced since the Tour de France finished last July. I was looking forward to resuming the season in March at the Volta a Catalunya, but of course the pandemic prevented that. Despite everything, the team trusts me enough to sign me for an additional season and this illustrates their human dimension. I have been part of the team for six years; I have seen it grow and evolve so I am proud and happy to continue the adventure. I am pleased that we will be able to resume the season because we have sometimes wondered whether we would end up having a blank season. Taking part in the Tour de France in August would be a strong signal for our sport, but also for the entire country. I really hope I can take part. It’s the race that has made me dream since I was a little kid.”

Vincent Lavenu: “A rider who can always perform. Alexis is a good guy and even if these past two seasons have been disrupted by injuries, we know we can count on his strength, his punch, and his panache. He has been wearing our colours since 2014 and is one of the riders who embodies the soul of the team. We are delighted to be able to continue our adventure with him.”

Alexis Vuillermoz leading Romain Bardet:
Le Puy-en-Velay, - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - VUILLERMOZ Alexis (FRA) Rider of Team AG2R La Mondiale and BARDET Romain (FRA) Rider of Team AG2R La Mondiale are leading the group in front of URAN URAN Rigoberto (COL) Rider of Cannondale - Drapac team, MARTIN Daniel (IRL) Rider of Quick-Step Floors Cycling team and FROOME Christopher (GBR) Rider of Team SKY pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 15 from Laissac-Sévérac l’…glise to Le Puy-en-Velay, 189.50

sunweb
World Number One Ranked Rider Lorena Wiebes Joins Team Sunweb
Sprint sensation, world number one ranked rider and Dutch champion Lorena Wiebes joins Team Sunweb’s Women’s program from the 1st of June, signing a four year contract with the team until the end of 2024.

Wiebes burst onto the scene in her opening year as a professional in 2018, impressing many on her way to four UCI level wins. 2019 saw Wiebes continue her meteoric rise as one of the best sprinters in the women’s peloton, taking a phenomenal 15 wins throughout the season; accumulating an already blossoming palmarès. Those remarkable performances catapulted the Dutch road race champion to the top of the UCI world ranking at the end of the year, an incredible achievement for a rider that had just entered their twenties. With age still very much on her side, Wiebes wants to continue her development as a top-level rider with Team Sunweb over the coming years.

“I’m really motivated to be a part of Team Sunweb to grow together and continue my development as a rider,” explained Lorena Wiebes. “This is a very professional top sports environment for me to do that and I’m confident that the people around me will help bring me to the next level. I’m looking forward to getting back to racing when it is safe for everyone to do so and making my first appearance for the team. Knowing that day will come keeps me motivated to train during these unusual and challenging times.”

Team Sunweb coach Hans Timmermans added: “Lorena is one of the most up and coming riders of her generation and she helps take our Women’s program to the next level. When she made the transition from juniors up to the elite-level she made a huge step in her development and her sprint talents brought her immediate success. She’s also continued to make progress in the classics which gives us confidence that she will be a key-rider for us as she develops. Lorena is only 21 years old and will still take time to grow as a rider; we are looking forward to being there to support her in that progression in the coming years.”

Boating with Lorena Wiebes – Home Stories:

ag2r
Domont Aiming at the Giro and Early Retirement
Axel Domont, the 29-year-old Frenchman at AG2R-La Mondiale is still recovering from a fractured pelvis that he sustained in Australia in January. He thought he should miss a large part of the season, but may still be able to race due to the adjusted calendar. “I hope to ride the Giro d’Italia in October,” Domont told L’Equipe.

“I am not really in my recovery phase when I have to think about race plans. I am now thinking about my body, that I will be able to race. I know I have to be able to train outside again in early August, so I have some time,” Domont explains.

After his broken pelvis in the Race Torquay in Australia, Domont sat in a wheelchair for a long time. “But I knew I felt better than last year after my crash in Catalonia (then he broke his hip and collarbone, ed). Then I was very bad and I was in the hospital for over a month. Twice I thought about quitting, but came back at a high level. Why not again now?”

Domont looks ahead, although he knows that he has to skip the Tour de France by the side of leader Romain Bardet. “I will do my best in the Giro, but I don’t think about that too much yet,” said Domont, who questions the continuation of his career due to the ending of his contract with AG2R-La Mondiale. “If this is my last season with the team, I want to leave with my head held high. The nightmare is that I have to stop because of an injury, then I regret forever. I want to finish well and have fun. I love cycling, but I don’t keep doing it at all costs.”

Axel Domont:
Sagunt - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Axel DOMONT (France / Team AG2R La Mondiale) - John Jhon Darwin ATAPUMA HURTADO (Columbia / Team UAE Emirates) pictured during La Vuelta ciclista a Espana 2017 (2.UWT) stage 6 from Vila-Real - Sagunt (204,4 km) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017

sunweb
Team Sunweb Sign Talented German Youngster Marco Brenner
Talented youngster and multi-discipline German champion Marco Brenner will join Team Sunweb in 2021, signing a four year deal to the team’s Men’s program until the end of 2024.

In 2019 Brenner exploded onto the scene, both in the German domestic races and in international Nations Cup races. Ending the year with a phenomenal tally of 20 wins plus several other jersey titles, Brenner marked his name as one of the riders to watch for the future. As German time trial and road champion, Brenner is a versatile rider and he’s taken GC victories at difficult races such as Oberösterreich Juniorenrundfahrt and Tour du Pays de Vaud. Brenner is not only a capable racer on the road but he’s also current German cyclocross champion, with excellent skills and technique on the bike. Brenner is keen to continue his development and progress with the team.

“Team Sunweb has a great track record of helping young talents to progress and I like that the team will give me time to develop and that we share the same goals for the future,” said Brenner. “The main goal is to make consistent steps and continually learn from everyone around me – this is the perfect environment for me to be able to do so. The team’s approach to 100 percent top sports is something that really appeals to me and I fully want to commit to it. I look forward to working with the experts from the team to become the best bike rider I can possibly be at Team Sunweb.”

Team Sunweb head coach Rudi Kemna added: “Marco really impressed us at our Deutsche Talent-Tage, performing excellently in our tests and standing out in workshops. In 2019 he showed that he can transfer those test results into superb race results and we see him as one of the biggest young talents in the peloton. Marco’s also very ambitious and driven, which fits well with the team’s environment. With his young age in mind, we will gradually work on his development together, constantly monitoring the process with a well-balanced racing program. We are confident that with our experts and Marco’s natural talent, that this is the best environment for him to take the next step in his development.”

Marco Brenner:
Marco Brenner

pauwels
Iserbyt on Van der Poel
Eli Iserbyt won ten times in his first full ‘cross season with the elite riders, but that was still fourteen less than Mathieu van der Poel. How to beat the world champion, the Belgian cyclo-cross rider was asked in a video interview with Shimano.

He has already asked himself that a few times: “I know what other riders can and cannot do, but no one really knows what Mathieu can’t do. It is very difficult to find a point or a section in a cross where you can really beat him. I was close behind him at the European Championship, but riding or racing away is a big difference. I will have to become even stronger in the future to think about that.”

The U23 World champion of Heusden-Zolder (2016) and Valkenburg (2018) is not really concerned that Van der Poel stands out, it has already been established that he is very difficult to beat. “Because I know that Mathieu has other goals in the future and so my time will eventually come. But I suppose riders who are a bit older than me and at their peak will swear for a while.”

Iserbyt also sees the advantages of the battle with the Dutchman. “I see him as someone you race against, by whom you can get better and by whom you really have that drive to do it even better and to exhaust yourself even harder during a training session. So for me it only has an advantage now. But maybe within two to three years, if I really have to, I will start swearing if he joins in.”

Eli Iserbyt winning in Gavere’19:
ISERBYT Eli

movistar
Miguel Grávalos becomes new Abarca Sports CEO
Spaniard to bring his vast experience in business to the organisation managing the Movistar Team rosters; aims to strengthen the company’s business area.

The Movistar Team announced Monday that Miguel Grávalos Soria (Pamplona, Spain; 1972) has joined the Abarca Sports’ management board as CEO. Having working with the whole Telefónica-backed squad since early this season, Grávalos is now making public his new role as Abarca resumes its normal activity, prior to a return to competition scheduled for this summer. The Navarra native will aim to improve the company’s scope of business activities, bolstering development of an organisation whose men’s and women’s teams are the only Spanish members of the UCI WorldTour.

Grávalos has spent more than 25 years working at SME and Multinational companies, always with a strong focus on financial aspects. A Bachelor and Master in Business Administration with Major in Finance, his career has turned from one of the world’s most prestigious firms in consultancy and auditing, KPMG, to leading roles in companies like Thomson Reuters (Financial Controller), MRA (CFO and member of the Board) or Innoliva, serving as CEO during the last seven years.

“I’m taking up this challenge with great excitement and enormous support that I’ve felt from all of my team-mates at Abarca Sports, both riders and staff, who have given me the warmest of welcomes,” underlined Grávalos. “I want to do everything in my hands for this team to remain at the fore of international sports, both in its activities and the message it conveys towards our society. I think Abarca and the Movistar Team should be not only an organisation which promotes road cycling, but also make its values influential across many spheres of life and business. These times of profound change might as well be a good chance for us to continue improving across the board.”

Grávalos’ arrival is part of a series of profound changes in the Movistar Team’s staff and management, with Patxi Vila having previously joined the Blues in December 2019 as Head of Performance. The new additions to the 2020 team included areas as diverse as digital marketing, biomechanics, nutrition and finances.

Miguel Grávalos:
movistar


The First Race in Corona Time Ridden in German
Last weekend, a cycling race was held in Germany for the first time since the measures following the outbreak of the Corona Virus. At the Sachsenring circuit in Saxony, 50 Elite riders were allowed to participate in a 120 kilometre race on Sunday, Rad-Net.de reported.

The plan was initially to organise youth competitions for the U15, U17 and U19 categories, but the Corona measures taken in the state of Saxony prohibited this a few days before. “It would be a sporting highlight for the kids and teens who had been training for weeks, but the rules didn’t allow it. We did’t want to call it off either,” said organiser Dietmar Lohr.

The only race that was allowed to continue had a small field of riders, with only professional riders and (U23) riders who are affiliated with the cycling federation. The win in the Sachsenringradrennen went to Tobias Nolde, who escaped in the final together with his teammate Immanuel Stark from P&S Metalltechnik. Third place went to Stefan Brandlmeier of the Hrinkow team.

Last year the German road championship were organised on the Sachsenring circuit and won by Max Schachmann:

sibiu
Sibiu Cycling Tour Moved to Late July
The Sibiu Cycling Tour (July 2-5) is the first UCI race on the revised calendar, but according to the German Radsport-News, the Romanian stage race will take place a few weeks later. It is still a guess about the new date, but the competition will now be organised at the end of July.

The tenth edition of the Sibiu Cycling Tour (2.1) was interesting for many teams, given the spot on the new UCI calendar. The four-day stage race would be the first UCI race after the mandatory Corona break, but the organisation has decided to postpone the event by a few weeks.

This means that the first UCI race will now take place in Serbian territory. On Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 July it is time for the Olympic Hopes-Belgrad Trophy, although this is a competition for juniors. At the end of July, competitions such as the Tour of Qinghai Lake (July 26-August 2) and the Tour of Burgos (July 28-August 1) are also scheduled.

The Sibiu Cycling Tour this year counts on the presence of two WorldTour teams with CCC Team and Israel Start-Up Nation. Kevin Rivera, who competes for Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, is the last winner of this race, while riders like Iván Ramiro Sosa, Egan Bernal and Davide Rebellin have been top riders in the past.

Kevin Rivera:
rivera


Primus Classic Cancelled
No Primus Classic Impanis-Van Petegem in 2020. This autumn 1.HC race on the UCI calendar was on the calendar on September 19, in the closing weekend of the Tour de France.

The Primus Classic is one of many autumn races on the list that have been lost as a result of the Corona pandemic. Previously, the GP Scheren, the GP Zottegem and Koolskamp Koers were also lost. Now, September 19 was also not the best date on the updated calendar.

“That our race would coincide with the penultimate day of the Tour de France, means that we get little or no TV broadcast,” said organiser Peter Van Petegem to Het Nieuwsblad. “We couldn’t guarantee our agreements with the sponsors anymore. The uncertainty surrounding the VIP event also played a role in the decision.”

It would be the 10th edition of the Primus Classic. “That deserves a party with all the trimmings,” concluded Van Petegem. Edward Theuns won the last edition. The Trek-Segafredo rider narrowly beat sprinting peloton in Haacht. Pascal Ackermann and Jasper De Buyst came second and third.

Edward Theuns – 2019 Primus Classic winner:
Edward Theuns

hageland
Dwars door het Hageland Secures Belgian WorldTour Teams
Now that Dwars door het Hageland has the green light for a place on the new calendar, the organisation has announced the first teams on the start list. Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal have already promised their participation.

Last week, it was announced that Dwars door het Hageland had received approval to move to Saturday, August 15 on the rescheduled calendar. This makes the race the first Belgian UCI race in the second part of the season. “We are in a growth phase with our competition, we have quite a bit of ambition with that,” organiser Nick Nuyens told regional television broadcaster ROB-tv.

It has been a long search for a new date, but it was found in August 15. Nuyens: “We only have competition from the Critérium du Dauphiné, it will be other types of riders who go there, so that means that we have a lot of potential participants. At the same time, everyone is careful because we all know that things could still change if the Security Council gives other advice.”

Although the organiser is still a bit restrained, he can announce that both Belgian WorldTour teams, Deceuninck-Quick Step and Lotto Soudal, will return after a year’s absence.

The gravel road event was won last year by Kenneth Vanbilsen. In the final section, the Cofidis rider rode away from a pack of fellow escapees and then managed to hold out until the finish line. In the past, riders such as Mathieu van der Poel, Niki Terpstra and Krists Neilands have also triumphed in the Hageland.

Hagelands winner in 2018 – Krists Neilands:
Diest - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Krists Neilands of Israel Cycling Academy pictured during Dwars door het Hageland cycling race as the 5th leg of the Napoleon Games Cup on June 15, 2018 in Diest, Belgium - photo GvG/PN/Cor Vos © 2018


Alabama Cycling Classic to Reschedule Criteriums in 2021
Event Sponsors Continue to Support Local Charities.

Event organisers and City of Anniston officials have confirmed that this year’s Alabama Cycling Classic, and Noble Street Festival, have been cancelled due to continuing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally set for April 18-19, the Alabama Cycling Classic had been postponed while efforts were made to reschedule for a late summer date.

This year would have been the 18th consecutive Sunny King Criterium, part of the Noble Street Festival in downtown Anniston and a USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event. A second day of criterium racing was planned for Piedmont, Ala.

“It is very unfortunate to announce cancellation for this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous obstacles in all areas of operations. The decision to push out to 2021 was not easy, but all parties involved wanted to prioritise the safety and well-being of racers, residents, staff, and volunteers,” said Marilyn Hill, race director for the Alabama Cycling Classic. “In addition to safety, event leadership considered how to proceed with a quality experience for races and the festival. We deemed it safest to pursue cancellation over postponement for 2020.”

Hill has submitted a rescheduling request to USA Cycling for holding the Alabama Cycling Classic in a similar time slot for April 2021. The City of Anniston would reschedule the Noble Street Festival for the same Saturday as the Sunny King Criterium, which is the first day of racing for the Classic.

This year’s refund policy provides three options for athletes who were registered for the Alabama Cycling Classic. Individuals should use email (link in resources below) to request his or her refund option:

● Donate registration fees to Meals On Wheels, local beneficiary
● Roll registration fees to 2021
● Issue a full refund

Event staff and City of Anniston leadership would like to thank event sponsors for their patience and understanding. It is through the support of these sponsors that both the Noble Street Festival and Alabama Cycling Classic have been able to raise thousands of dollars each year for local organisations such as Meals on Wheels of Interfaith Ministries and Relay for Life of Calhoun County. More than $200,000 has been raised for both groups since 2002. The annual economic impact of event weekend is estimated to be more than $1.5 million each year.

Event sponsors Sunny King Automotive, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and Eastman Chemical have each committed to donate a portion of this year’s sponsorship fees to these charities to ease the challenges related to cancellation.

Hit hardest was Meals On Wheels, which delivers 18,500 meals to area seniors. It is having to source new funding this year. Previously, its main source of funding came from advertising dollars generated by a popular Festival Guide, produced by The Anniston Star.

The Sunny King Criterium attracts top talent from across the country as part of the PRT racing calendar. It has a strong reputation for southern hospitality, diversity of categorised events (women and men, juniors to elites), a hefty prize purse ($29,000 for weekend) and full day of free, live streaming for the Sunny King Criterium. The Noble Street Festival features the Sunny King Kids Zone, YMCA Kids Bicycle Races and Mad Dash 1K, and the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Association (NEABA) Fat Tire Crit.

In addition to Sunny King Automotive, sponsors for the Alabama Cycling Classic include Alabama Power, Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, Webb Concrete & Building Materials, B.R. Williams Trucking, Regions Bank, Regional Medical Center, Consolidated Publishing Company, Eastman Chemical Company, Multimetco, Wakefield’s/Martin’s Family Clothing Co., Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, State of Alabama Tourism Department – Sweet Home Alabama, Calhoun County Commission.

Resources:
Donate to Interfaith Ministries for Meals on Wheelsclick here
Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun Co.click here
Relay for Life – Calhoun Co.click here
Information on Noble Street Festival – email Sherrie at: [email protected]
Alabama Cycling Classic refund information – email Marilyn at: [email protected]

Alabama with Frankie Andreu commentating:
alabama andreu

lance
Lance Armstrong Says Ullrich was the Most Important Person in His Life
Whether he feels he wants to be relevant again is a question asked of Lance Armstrong in the second part of the documentary LANCE. “This will sound terrible, but I’m relevant.”

The last part of the documentary LANCE was broadcast on ESPN on Sunday. The first part focused on Armstrong’s rise to prominence, the second focused on dismantling his realm of lies. “A beautiful documentary that grabs you and does not let go. Television with big ‘T’, unfortunately without revealing facts or strong confessions,” Het Laatste Nieuws summarised the second part.

Hard, relentless, intimidating, sparing with everything and everyone, that is how the former rider characterises himself in his heyday. He lived at odds with Tyler Hamilton, Filippo Simeoni and Floyd Landis and they are each featured in the documentary. Landis is still the enemy. “It could be worse. I could be Floyd Landis. And waking up every day as a ‘piece of shit’.” Is that what you think, documentary maker Marina Zenovich asks him. “Yes. Yes. I don’t think so, I know.”

Armstrong thinks he has treated Emma O’Reilly the worst. She was his soigneur at US Postal and later explicitly accused him in the book LA Confidentiel. “I called her a whore at some point. Totally unacceptable. It couldn’t have been more painful. I didn’t mean it like that, but… I was an idiot in full attack mode. I didn’t manage to be another person besides the bike.”

His former opponent Jan Ullrich seems to touch a sensitive chord with the American. He talk badly of his other rivals, but he had a weakness for the German. “My relationship with Jan was very respectful. Jan was the most important person in my life, motivated me the most, pushed me forward. He had everything I had: a wife, children, money… That turned out not to be enough to keep him straight.”

Ullrich recently had to be admitted to a psychiatric clinic. “Italy worships Basso, puts him on a pedestal, forgives him his sins, offers him a job. Pantani is not, but he is ‘fucking dead’. Germany praises Zabel, Aldag and others. But they destroy Ullrich’s life. Why? The United States embraces Hincapie, invites him to competitions… and destroys me. That makes no sense.”

Finally, Armstrong calls it “unforgivable” how he had been in his prime. “Totally inappropriate behaviour. I have abused my status. Unlawful benefit from it. I apologise for that. I wish I could change it. That I could be a better person. But all I can do is say sorry and move on. Hopefully others can too. Or can I live with myself? Yes I can do that.”

Armstrong and Ullrich:
tour armstrong ullrich

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