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ccccc - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - VAN AERT Wout (BEL) of Veranda’s Willems - Crelan and DEVOLDER Stijn (BEL) of Veranda’s Willems - Crelan pictured during a a reconnaissance of the Paris Roubaix parcours on February 27, 2018 in Roubaix, Belgium, 27/02/18 - photo JdM/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

Paris-Roubaix is the star of EUROTRASH Thursday. Course details and team line-ups (more to come). We catch up with the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Scheldeprijs with results and video. In other cycling news: Mads Pedersen to stay with Trek-Segafredo till 2020, Hammer Series goes to Asia, Alecto Cycling team starts the season well, Point S Auto for 2018 and we finish with behind the scenes at De Ronde with Quick-Step Floors. Bring on Roubaix!

TOP STORY: The Cobbles are the Stars!
It is hard to believe that it is already over! The northern classics campaign is about to end with a bang. Although the specialists have already been tackling the cobblestones of Belgium and northern France for several weeks, Paris–Roubaix remains the ultimate challenge. The stars will be on the hunt for an opportunity to settle the score and end this thrilling campaign on a high note. Quick-Step, which has already won all the races bar Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne and Gent–Wevelgem, could continue to ride the wave. Sunday could see them rack up another victory courtesy of any of its four aces: former winner Niki Terpstra, who crushed the opposition in the Tour of Flanders; Yves Lampaert, who played his cards masterfully in Dwars Door Vlaanderen; Zdenek Štybar, who finished second last year and has always been in the mix in the last few years; and, of course, Philippe Gilbert, who could be about to take his career to a whole new level. The Walloon has only ridden the Queen of Classics once (52nd in 2007), but he knows how it works and is extremely good reading the race. Winning would make him one of only eight riders to win four different cycling Monuments, alongside Hennie Kuiper, Germain Derycke, Louison Bobet and Alfred de Bruyne, as well as Rik van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck and Eddy Merckx, who won them all.

Third in the Tour of Flanders after covering for teammate Terpstra, “Phil Gil” makes no secret about his ambitions. However, many riders are eager to seize the moment and put an end to the Quick-Step domination. Peter Sagan has yet to add the prestigious cobblestone to his collection, but he will need a monster performance to leave his many rivals in the dust. Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet, who has had a lackluster Belgian campaign so far, may get his mojo back on the Carrefour de l’Arbre, but Alexander Kristoff and Sep Vanmarcke have similar plans. On another front, sprinters in good shape such as Arnaud Démare and Edvald Boasson Hagen will be eyeing a sprint in the Velodrome, as will Dylan Groenewegen and Marcel Kittel despite their scarce experience on the cobblestones. Finally, the usual twists of fate could play into the hands of the numerous outsiders, including Geraint Thomas, Oliver Naesen, Tony Martin and young Wout Van Aert (ninth in the Ronde) and Mads Pedersen (second behind Terpstra).

Following Christian Prudhomme and Thierry Gouvenou’s reconnaissance of the course on 3 April, the organizers have rated the difficulty of the 29 cobbled sectors in the race based on their length, the unevenness of the cobbles, the overall condition of the sectors and their location. The return of the Saint-Python sector to the course is the major change to the race for this year, with several other cobbled sectors in the first part of the race also modified. Shortly after Saint-Python, the peloton will tackle the 1,500 m Saint-Vaast sector for the very first time. Although the total length of the cobbled sectors is 500 m less than in 2017, the decisive part of the race is a carbon copy of last year’s. La Trouée d’Arenberg (km 162), Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208.5) and the Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 240) remain the only sectors with a five-star rating.

Check-out the PEZ Roubaix Preview HERE.

Key points :
Quick-Step Floors is going into the 116th edition of Paris–Roubaix with several favorites to win the race and extend their domination of the Belgian classics and semi-classics. Philippe Gilbert’s return to the race is probably his biggest challenge of the season.
Ø World champion Peter Sagan, defending champion Greg Van Avermaet and French champion Arnaud Démare will also strive to end the first part of the season on a high note.

The 29 cobbled sectors of Paris–Roubaix:
29 : Troisvilles (km 93,5 – 2,2 km) ***
28 : Briastre (km 100 – 3 km) ***
27 : Saint-Python (km 109 – 1,5 km) ***
26 : Quiévy (km 111,5 – 3,7 km) ****
25 : Saint-Vaast (km 119 – 1,5 km) ***
24 : Verchain-Maugré (km 130 – 1,2 km) **
23 : Quérénaing (km 134,5 – 1,6 km) ***
22 : Maing (km 137,5 – 2,5 km) ***
21 : Monchaux-sur-Ecaillon (km 140,5 – 1,6 km) ***
20 : Haveluy (km 153,5 – 2,5 km) ****
19 : Trouée d’Arenberg (km 162 – 2,4 km) *****
18 : Hélesmes (km 168 – 1,6 km) ***
17 : Wandignies (km 174,5 – 3,7 km) ****
16 : Brillon (km 182 – 2,4 km) ***
15 : Sars-et-Rosières (km 185,5 – 2,4 km) ****
14 : Beuvry-la-forêt (km 189 – 1,4 km) ***
13 : Orchies (km 197 – 1,7 km) ***
12 : Bersée (km 203 – 2,7 km) ****
11 : Mons-en-Pévèle (km 208,5 – 3 km) *****
10 : Avelin (km 214,5 – 0,7 km) **
9 : Ennevelin (km 218 – 1,4 km) ***
8 : Templeuve – L’Epinette (km 223,5 – 0,2 km) *
8 : Templeuve – Moulin-de-Vertain (km 224 – 0,5 km) **
7 : Cysoing (km 230,5 – 1,3 km) ***
6 : Bourghelles (km 233 – 1,1 km) ***
5 : Camphin-en-Pévèle (km 237,5 – 1,8 km) ****
4 : Carrefour de l’Arbre (km 240 – 2,1 km) *****
3 : Gruson (km 242,5 – 1,1 km) **
2 : Hem (km 249 – 1,4 km) ***
1 : Roubaix (km 256 – 0,3 km) *

Roubaix teaser:

Vuelta al Pais Vasco 2018
Last year, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) was left disappointed as he rolled to the finish of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco opening stage, after an untimely puncture outside the final three kilometers stopped his brave attack and ruined any chance of fighting for the win. Twelve months later, Julian emerged as the strongest rider on the Stage 1 of the WorldTour race, after surging clear on the grueling Elkano climb together with Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), scorching the fast descent to Zarautz and holding off the Slovenian in a two-man sprint.

Before it came down to crunch time, the 162.1km-long stage had been animated by four riders, who were joined by two others some sixty kilometers from the finish. Despite the new forces, they couldn’t stretch out their advantage to more than two minutes and got caught ahead of the fifth and final classified ascent of the day, a real bruiser with 20% maximum gradients, that topped with less than seven kilometers to go.

A natural selection took place halfway through the climb, before Julian Alaphilippe got out of the saddle and launched a stinging attack which dropped all bar one rider. Together with Roglic, the 25-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider, a stage victor in February at the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz race, put in some strong turns, increasing the gap over the first chasing group, which contained also the young Enric Mas, who permanently kept an eye on the others.

In Zarautz, a small town which hosted a Vuelta al Pais Vasco stage finish for the first time, Julian hit out in the sprint with 200 meters to go and out-kicked Roglic for a victory that France had been waiting in this race since 2006. For Quick-Step Floors, this was the 22nd victory of the season, and came just 24 hours after a monumental triumph at the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

More photos from stage 1 in PeloPics.

Zarautz - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Julian ALAPHILIPPE (France / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during 58th Itzulia Basque Country stage 1 from Zarautz to Zarautz (162,1 KM) - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “I am very happy, especially as I got sick after Milano-Sanremo and had to rest before returning to training. I was very motivated after this small setback, so I worked hard to be back at my best. The plan was to take a stage here and even though we did a recon of the final climb yesterday and on paper it suited me, I didn’t know how my legs would react following that break. I was focused, smart and strong, I worked well together with Roglic, who too was very strong, and in the end I bided my time before powering to this nice win. A big thanks to my team for protecting me today and to the amazing crowds, who cheered for us before the start and at the finish. Everyone in the peloton asked me what was with the mustache. After my teammates the other day, now the other riders came to me and asked if there was any reason behind this new look. To be frank, there wasn’t any and I wasn’t even focused on it, but now that I won, I’ll keep it.”

4th and best young rider, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors): “The stage wasn’t easy and the peloton grew nervous as the last climb was approaching. Everyone knew there will be fireworks there and battled for a good position. I was at all times attentive and at the front, together with Julian, as I felt good throughout the day and knew it was important to be up there with the strong crosswinds. At the end, I came just outside the podium, but the way my legs responded satisfies me. I lead the youth rankings and the confidence is there, so now I’ll just take it one day at a time and see what this race brings in the next stages.”

5th, Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida): “I’m happy with my 5th place, it’s a good start. I suffered a bit the first day of heat and in the final part I did not find a great collaboration, except for Nairo Quintana, going downhill trying to catch the two riders ahead of us.”

6th, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a hard first stage but the team worked very well together. I wanted to go with Alaphilippe as he attacked but he was too strong today, but I tried together with Patrick to close the gap and in the end we both finished in the Top-Ten, therefore I am satisfied. We have some stages left and we will try our best.”

KOM and break rider, Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “It’s been a good day. I knew that the important thing was to catch the break and once there I had my options, since I am fast and in the mountain I have good legs. Other years I fought with pride but in this one I have to use my head. I knew what I had to do and I fought hard. I think that the arrival of De Gendt has been good for us. I would like to keep the jersey until the end, I think I can, but I know it will be very complicated. The feelings are good and I’m sure I’ll fight it.”

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida): “After the great effort of yesterday at the Ronde I have to say that my legs were spinning well but in the end I lacked a bit of strength to get back on the top. I was with Ion and we saw them but we missed a bit of brilliance to get them back.”

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Stage 1 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 4:17:36
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:04
3. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:29
4. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 0:33
5. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 1:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 4:17:36
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:04
3. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:29
4. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors at 0:33
5. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar.

Pais Vasco stage 1:

Quick-Step Floors’ winning streak continued on Tuesday in Stage 2 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, where a confident Julian Alaphilippe blew the race apart on San Pelaio, the 3.3km-long climb averaging 8.1% which featured in the last ten kilometers, before sprinting from a four-man group to a convincing victory in Bermeo, a town which made its return after a 37-year hiatus.

Stage 2 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco – before the start of which our riders took it to the podium to get a prize for leading the team classification – contained numerous climbs and got off to a fast and aggressive start, with the crosswinds splitting the field after 30 kilometers and forcing a serious chase from the second group, who at one point was over a minute in arrears. Race leader Julian Alaphilippe and best young rider Enric Mas were at all times at the front, protected by their Quick-Step Floors teammates, who controlled the race behind the large breakaway group, which was pegged back by the time they hit the insane slopes of San Pelaio.

On the double-digit gradients, Julian and Enric put in two searing attacks to soften up their rivals and their efforts paid dividends, with just a handful of riders being capable of responding. Less than 500 meters from the top, Alaphilippe got out of the saddle and dug deep again, taking three riders with him onto the descent: Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Mikel Landa (Movistar) and Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Not only that the quartet kept the chasers at bay, they also stretched out their advantage before the tough and complicated finish in Bermeo, which included a 11% ramp and a tricky corner, where Julian came out on top again, securing his second victory and becoming the first Frenchman in 19 years to take back-to-back wins at Vuelta al Pais Vasco, one of the hardest week-long races of the calendar.

Photos from stage 2.

Bermeo - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Julian ALAPHILIPPE (France / Team Quick - Step Floors) - Primoz ROGLIC (Slowenia / Team Lotto NL - Jumbo) pictured during 58th Itzulia Basque Country stage 2 from Zarautz to Bermeo (167,4 KM) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s crazy! I was already happy with my win on stage 1 and having the yellow jersey on my shoulders, so to take another victory is just incredible. We’re on a fantastic run of success, we’re winning everywhere and seeing how the team performs only gives us more confidence. Two victories in two days and three jerseys it’s a great harvest for our squad, but we don’t want to stop here. The stage was on from the start and the crosswinds made it even more brutal, but fortunately I have a great team around me, who set an incredible pace at the front of the bunch, keeping the attackers on a leash, and a very strong Enric, who played a big role in my victory. Unlike yesterday, I had no idea on the final, but stayed calm and confident in my legs and sprint. Despite taking some more bonus seconds and increasing my advantage in the GC, I’m not changing my goal and will continue to take it day by day.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida): “I’m happy with the result and also for my place in the ranking after the first two stages. On the last climb, when I saw Alaphilippe, Landa and Roglic attacking I decided to follow them. Then together with Mikel we tried to gain as many seconds as possible. Finally, I thought about winning the stage but Alaphilippe was faster. Tomorrow, I expect a more quiet stage for the Overall leader before the ITT on Thursday and the last two stages with so many climbs. I like the time trial route and I think I can do a good race.”

5th on the stage and 6th overall, Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a hard and chaotic stage, where you need your team to save the energy for the finale. The last two Km’s, Emanuel was at the front and tried to close the gap to the breakaway and I focused on the sprint out of the chasing group. I wanted to go for a podium result but Alaphilippe and Roglic were once again the strongest. But I want to thank my teammates for all the support, we worked really good together today.”

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Stage 2 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 4:11:47
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo
3. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar
5. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:15
6. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
7. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana
8. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
9. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
10. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 2:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 8:29:13
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:08
3. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:39
4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 0:43
5. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:54
6. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:58
7. Enric Mas (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Pais Vasco stage 2:

After the breakaway was caught, the expected bunch sprint was set up at the end of Stage 3 on Wednesday. The BORA-Hansgrohe team started to form their lead-out for Jay McCarthy and in a hectic finale, the Australian rider took the stage win, his second WorldTour victory for this season.

After 15km of racing, two riders led the race, another group tried to bridge across and the peloton was already 1:15 behind. The chasers were able to close the gap, the new eight-man breakaway had an advantage of more than six minutes over the peloton after 55km of racing. 94km before the finish, the lead for the eight escapees were around five minutes but with the gap dropping steadily. Two guys at the front, Felix Großschartner and Cesare Benedetti pulled hard to close the gap. With 3km remaining, it was all back together and the excepted bunch sprint was set up. Gregor Mühlberger worked hard to bring his teammate, Jay McCarthy, in a good position. In the final metres, Jay McCarthy increased the pace and took the stage win ahead of Aleksandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky).

Valdegovía - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Jay MCCARTHY (Australia / Team Bora - hansgrohe)  pictured during     58th Itzulia Basque Country stage 3 from Bermeo to Valdegovía   (184.8 KM) - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The team did a stellar job today and worked the whole day really hard to support our GC leaders and help me in the finale, if it all came back together. Felix and Cece rode super strong to control the race in the last 30km, then Gregor came in the last 5 kilometers to the front and did a great lead-out for me. I started the sprint early and gave it all. I am really happy with this victory and want to thank my teammates for their support.”

2nd on the stage, Aleksandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m happy, but I can’t hide that I’m a little bit upset with this because I could’ve won. My first win as a professional would have been great, and at the end of such a difficult stage. In the sprint, I had good feelings and at 500 metres from the line, I was in good position. At 300, McCarthy started and I was behind him the entire time.”

Overall leader and 6th on the stage, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “It wasn’t an easy stage, but quite stressful and fast, because many teams wanted to take the win and as consequence rode full gas. Our plan was to protect the yellow jersey, so we gave a hand to control the breakaway. With the help of my incredible teammates, I kept the lead in the GC for the third day in a row, which is great. I will do my best tomorrow in the ITT, but it will be difficult against riders who have the upper hand in this discipline and on a flat parcours that doesn’t favor me”

KOM, Thomas De Gendt: “I started on the first row because we knew the break had a chance of surviving. At first I was alone in front, after a few kilometers Juul-Jensen joined me. There were a few other riders behind us, but because the gap to the bunch was so small we decided not to wait. In the meantime I claimed the maximum of points on the first two climbs. Then we waited for the chasers because the peloton followed at about two minutes. We got up to six minutes lead, but when two teams started chasing it was over for us. I still tried to make the best of the situation by accelerating at the end. Together with Juul-Jensen I stayed ahead quite long. I had hoped we would get some reinforcement, but a duo was not enough. The peloton was close and I didn’t try anything anymore. Winning the KOM jersey here in the Basque Country wasn’t a goal when coming to this race, but I always seize the opportunity with both hands when I can wear one. In the first forty kilometers of the last stage on Saturday some important points can still be gained. But let’s first survive the mountain stage on Friday.”

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Stage 3 Result:
1. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe in 4:49:29
2. Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
4. Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Enrique Sanz Unzue (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
8. Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos-BH
9. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana
10. Enrico Battaglin (Ita) LottoNL-Jumbo.

Vuelta al Pais Vasco Overall After Stage 3:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 13:18:52
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:08
3. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:39
4. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 0:43
5. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 0:54
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:58
7. Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar.

Pais Vasco stage 3:

Scheldeprijs 2018
For the first time in history, Scheldeprijs started from the Netherlands and at the end of the day, after more than four tough hours in the saddle, it was a Dutch rider who took the spoils, as Fabio Jakobsen put in a flawless sprint in Schoten, out-kicking Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) and Christopher Lawless (Sky), to continue Quick-Step Floors’ amazing run this month with a fourth victory in as many days.

The 106th edition of Scheldeprijs will easily go down as one of the best in history, with the crosswinds, heavy rain and low temperatures of Zeeland – the Dutch province in which the peloton spent most of the race – spicing up things and blowing the bunch apart. It took more than an hour for a breakaway to form, and when it did, the five men at the front weren’t allowed to establish a threatening gap, as several teams, including Quick-Step Floors, worked to keep them in control and cut the deficit.

Iljo Keisse and Zdenek Stybar took over the chase for the Quick-Step team, pushing a huge tempo and stretching out the field, before Michael Mørkøv expertly piloted Fabio Jakobsen through the last corner, before opening the door with 200 meters to go. After starting his sprint, the 21-year-old neo-pro got boxed in, but remarkably bounced back and powered ahead, his rapid acceleration landing him a comfortable win by more than a bike length. For Fabio – the first Dutchman since 2005 to take the honors in Scheldeprijs – this was his second victory of the season, after Nokere Koerse, one month ago.

More photos from the Scheldeprijs in PeloPics.

Schoten - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Fabio JAKOBSEN (Netherlands / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during the Flanders Classics UCI WorldTour Scheldeprijs 2018 with start in Terneuzen (Netherlands) and finish in Schoten (Belgium) on April 01, 2018 - 04-04-18 foto JdM/PN/Cor Vos ©

Race winner,Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s really amazing to do such a good sprint and get the win here. It’s the biggest victory of my still young career and it gives me even more motivation to work hard and keep growing in order to become one of the best sprinters in the world and fight for stage wins in all three Grand Tours. I couldn’t have pulled it off without the incredible support of my teammates, so a massive thanks goes to them. I like riding in Flanders and can’t say I was bothered by today’s conditions. The team was always around me, Iljo and Zdenek rode full gas from two kilometers to go, while all I had to do was sit in Michael’s wheel until the last 200 meters. In this team, we work for each other and always go for the win. We are strong and determined, so when one guy starts winning, we all want to do that. That’s one of the things that keep us going.”

2nd, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “We were concentrated from the beginning today and every time the bunch did split, we were up there with plenty of guys. In the end five of us made it to the finishing circuit and especially Schwarzi (Schwarzmann) and Pfingsti (Pfingsten) did a great job to keep me in position. In the sprint I was blocked on the left side, and nearly crashed once. But I think this second place was the maximum after a tough day racing in crosswinds.”

4th, Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal): “The race unfolded rather perfectly for me. I managed to maintain a position at the front at all times, despite the echelons. Démare, Groenewegen and Kittel weren’t in the running for victory anymore due to different reasons. In the finale I still had four teammates with me in the front group. We were strong as a team today. Marcel Sieberg did a perfect lead-out for me. That happened quite early, but that was better than running the risk of getting boxed in. When Sibi left his position at the front, I hesitated and that’s how I got in a duel with Mørkøv who wanted to let his sprinter pass. That half a second of hesitation costs me the first or second place. I don’t know if Jakobsen could be beaten. If I could have started my sprint immediately I would definitely have become second. I am disappointed, but I have to be happy with my condition. Now it’s all about recovering for Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Three years ago I finished ninth in Roubaix, so the race definitely suits me.”

Scheldeprijs Result:
1. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Floors in 4:23:51
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Chris Lawless (GB) Team Sky
4. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
5. Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept Club
6. Max Walscheid (Ger) Sunweb
7. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8. Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Bram Welten (Ned) Fortuneo-Samsic
10. Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin.

Scheldeprijs highlights:

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Paris-Roubaix
Our riders are ready for one of the most challenging, brutal, and at the same time, beautiful races of the season.

It’s the day an entire peloton descends into hell, but only one rider gets to play Hercules and be the first to overcome all challenges on the way back with the big prize, carving out his name in the history books. The day that stories are written with sweat in the dust and mud of Paris-Roubaix, the race that since its inception has stirred the imagination of riders and fans.

For the 116th edition of the French Monument, the riders will take on a 257km-long course peppered with 29 cobblestone sectors totaling 54.5 kilometers of pavé, including the iconic Haveluy, Trouée d’Arenberg, Sars-et-Rosières, Mons-en-Pévèle, Camphin-en-Pévèle and Carrefour de l’Arbre sectors.

Quick-Step Floors will go into Paris-Roubaix brimming with confidence after having won nine one-day races with six different riders in the past five weeks: Le Samyn, Dwars door West-Vlaanderen, Nokere Koerse, Handzame Classic, E3 Harelbeke, Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne, Dwars door Vlaanderen, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Scheldeprijs.

Tim Declercq, Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal, Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra – the same team that last week took on the Ronde van Vlaanderen, bringing home the 16th Monument victory in the history of Quick-Step Floors – will be in Compiègne Sunday morning for the “Hell of the North”.

“Roubaix is an elimination race. The first important part is the first 100 kilometers. In the beginning of the race it will be important to control the breakaways or be in one, because in a race like Roubaix a group containing the right riders can go really long, even all the way to the line. Also, the weather could play a big role; it’s still not clear if it will rain or we’ll have a dry edition. If it’s wet, then you get a completely difference race, much harder and with more scenarios”, said Tom Steels, a podium finisher as a rider back in 1999.

Quick-Step Floors’ sports director continued: “It is neither easy to control or book a ticket for the breakaway, but we count again on our own strength and are prepared to do our own race, improvising as things unfold according to what happens, as we always do. We start with confidence in all the riders; they showed a good form so far this spring, and if one of them will find himself in a good position to take the win, we’ll do everything to support him.”

08.04 Paris-Roubaix (FRA) 1.UWT

Tim Declercq (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Florian Sénéchal (FRA), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Philippe Gilbert:
Harelbeke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - GILBERT Philippe (BEL) of Quick - Step Floors - Niki TERPSTRA (Netherlands / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during Record Bank E3 Harelbeke 2018 (1UWT) a one day men’s elite race from Harelbeke to Harelbeke (206.5KM) 23-03-2018 - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Van Avermaet Sets His Sights on Paris-Roubaix Defense
Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line of Paris-Roubaix as the defending champion after claiming the first Monument win of his career and in BMC Racing Team’s history in 2017.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the team takes confidence out of their performance at the Tour of Flanders.

“It is a good feeling to be lining up at Paris-Roubaix with the defending champion in our team. We have seen that Greg Van Avermaet is strong in the classics this year and although we haven’t managed to get a win, we are confident ahead of Paris-Roubaix. At the Tour of Flanders, we saw the best performance from a team perspective and all of our riders are motivated to help Greg as much as possible on Sunday. The team remains largely unchanged with the exception of Nathan Van Hooydonck, who is coming back from illness and will replace Alberto Bettiol,” Baldato explained.

“Paris-Roubaix is the most unpredictable race of the classics and as we have seen in previous years, anything can happen at any moment of the race. We need to be attentive and intelligent in the way we race and by doing this, I am confident that we can produce a good result with Greg as our leader.”

Greg Van Avermaet is relishing the opportunity to race with number one on his back. “It is a really special feeling to be lining up as the defending champion at Paris-Roubaix. I’ve felt good and confident in my shape the whole classics season but things haven’t fallen into place yet. Paris-Roubaix is completely different to the Belgian classics. As much as you need the legs, you need some luck, to stay safe and avoid punctures. Last year I had some bad luck but I managed to completely change my situation,” Van Avermaet said.

“I was really happy with the team at the Tour of Flanders and we will give it everything we have on Sunday to defend my title. It was amazing last year because I wasn’t expecting to win but I did it. I’m capable of winning again so we will see how far I come.”

Paris-Roubaix (8 April)
Rider Roster:

Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).

Greg Van Avermaet:
Denia - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -VAN AVERMAET Greg (BEL) Rider of BMC Racing Team pictured during a training session, part of the BMC racing team media day at the La Sella Golfresort on December 11, 2017 in Denia, Spain, 11/12/2017 photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Preview: Paris-Roubaix
The 3rd monument of the year, and the Queen of the cobble classics, Paris-Roubaix is all set to take place this Sunday, 8th April.

This year Paris-Roubaix, or “Hell of the North” as it is aptly named, will take the World Tour peloton over a 257km route, for its 116th edition. As always, it will be the 29 cobble sectors during the race that will define the main story of the day. The 29 sectors, all rated on a 5-star scale in terms of difficulty, will cover a total distance of 54.5km. While the race can be lost on any one of the 29 cobbled sectors, there are a few where the eventual winner will hope to make his mark

As numbered in reverse order by the race organisation, the first key sector of the day will be sector 29 but it will only be reached after 93km of racing. A fast start is expected as all teams will look to have representation in the early break. Although, due to this common interest it is not uncommon to see the race all together sprinting into this first cobbled sector of the race.

There are then 3 key sectors that all teams will be looking at closely. Sector 19, takes riders through the mythical and most famous sector, Forest of Arenberg. Coming with 94km to go and at 2.4km in length, expect a big selection to be made in the Forest. Mons-en-Pevelle is sector 11 and one of the most difficult of the race. Coming with 48km to go and at 3km in length, the strongest riders will look to lay down a marker here. With 17km to go, the final 5-star sector will be reached, Carrefour del Arbre. It is here where many editions of Paris-Roubaix where ultimately won, or lost.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start on Sunday with a motivated team, ready for the epic battle ahead of them. Edvald Boasson Hagen, who placed 5th at the 2016 Paris-Roubaix, will be our favoured rider on the day. Despite a shoulder injury, Julien Vermote will also line up for a day in hell alongside our South African’s, Ryan Gibbons, Nic Dougall, Jaco Venter, Jay Thomson and Johann van Zyl.

Rolf Aldag – Sport Director
I’m not a weather man so I can’t predict what it will be like on race day but as far as our recon was concerned on Thursday, I’ve never seen conditions like that before. We can only hope for nice fast conditions on race day but we will deal with whatever is presented to us. Hell of the North is always a battle no matter what and it will be a big fight. History can be made at Roubaix, at Lombardy or Liege-Bastogne-Liege you are not going to win if you are not the strongest but here, out of different tactical scenarios, good luck or even bad luck to others, you always have a fair chance and I think that motivates guys to come back year after year to give Roubaix a shot. We are little in that situation, the underdogs on Sunday.

Edvald Boasson Hagen, Julien Vermote, Ryan Gibbons, Nic Dougall, Jaco Venter, Jay Thomson, Johann van Zyl.

Cover Image Explained
The Paris Roubaix is the hardest road race in the world. It doesn’t get any easier when finished.

The lionized Roubaix showers haven’t changed in almost a hundred years. In a final punctuation after the jaw chattering cobbles the water supply remains cold.
A sense of reverence and respect is evident; stalls are adorned with nameplates of prior vainqueurs (winners) of the race. Merckx, Cancellara, Boonen, and Hinault are all immortalised.

Just finishing the “Queen of the Classics” is a dream for many pro-cyclists; and when you’ve spent a Sunday in Hell, the cold showers are a true rite of passage.

Why We Love Paris-Roubaix
Like its contemporary, Flanders, it’s a race that only needs one word to cue a movie reel in a fan’s mind. Riders have a love/hate relationships with the Queen of the Classics, and it’s easy to see why. Double-taped bars don’t take nearly enough bite off the granite, and palms still tear open through bandaged hands.

But then, they finish in the velodrome in front of thousands of fans. At few races is finishing cause for celebration. The riders lay on their backs on the infield and let the lines of the sweat-soaked mud on their faces tell the story of the race.

We asked the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale riders racing Sunday’s spectacle to tell us what they love about Paris-Roubaix. Some actually humored us and pretended to like it.

Taylor Phinney
“It’s the holy grail. The Arenberg Forest. The trenches. I call it my favorite race. It’s hard to call something your favorite race when it destroys you every single time, but that’s cycling isn’t it.”

Mitch Docker
“Roubaix is a battle. It’s a journey. It’s physically and emotionally tough. I love it yet at times I hate it. It can defeat you and be the most beautiful moment in cycling. The velodrome, it’s emotional. Roubaix is the reason why I race each season.”

Sep Vanmarcke
“For me, it’s the cobbles. They’re different from the ones in Belgium and the roads are only used once every year. It’s a special thing.”

Matti Breschel
“It’s so different from any other race. The history around it adds a layer of mystique.”

Tom Scully
“What do I love about Roubaix? The massive battle on all the small, small cobbled roads, approaching the Velodrome. When you finally get onto the Velodrome, it’s hard to describe. It’s an unreal feeling to make it in there, the crowds, all the people cheering, the sense of accomplishment.”

Tom Van Asbroeck
“Nothing at all. Ha. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I was always afraid of it when I was on my previous team, on Topsport Vlaanderen. I had the chance to race it and didn’t take it. I heard stories about it. It was horrible. And then one day I had to do it and instant love. Instant love. It’s horrible but I love it.”

Sebastian Langeveld
“Roubaix is the toughest Monument and the one with the most history. They call it the Hell of the North for a reason. It’s a race beyond compare. I have good memories from the race already with a couple time top 10 and last year one of the highlights of my career with the third place, standing there on the podium, entering the velodrome to sprint for the win. That’s one of the memories that will always stay with me. I‘m really looking forward to Sunday. From now on, everything is focused on that.”

EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Paris-Roubaix

Matti Breschel (DEN), Mitch Docker (AUS), Sebastan Langeveld (NLD), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tom Scully (NZL), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Directors: Andreas Klier (DEU) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

Heinrich Haussler leading TBM at Paris-Roubaix
The monumental “cobblestone classic” and the well-known Paris-Roubaix is the new challenge for the very motivated riders of BAHRAIN MERIDA Team. We have a very strong and motivated Heinrich Hausseler that will be our leader – says sports director Tristan Hoffman – Our riders will have a role for helping and protecting Heino, but we also wish to have one of our riders at the early morning break and to be there for 93 km for the entrance to the cobblestone sections and to fight to the Arenberg (162 km).

Most of our riders already had an joint experience at last years’ Paris – Roubaix what is definitely a good base for us as a team. Borut Božič, Kristijan Koren, Luka Pibernik can really work hard, David Per and Meiyin Wang are our young strong helpers and Ivan Cortina had shown last weekend at Flanders how strong and motivated he is. Paris-Roubaix is his favorite race, so let us all believe that TBM can do a good result at the upcoming Paris-Roubaix. A top 10 result on such unique and hard race would be the first team goal, says Tristan Hoffman.

TBM Lineup:
Borut Božić / Luka Pibernik / Ivan Cortina / Heinrich Haussler / David Per / Meiyin Wang / Kristijan Koren

AG2R-La Mondiane Roubaix Team
Gediminas Bagdonas: “I have raced all the cobbled classics in Flanders on the UCI WorldTour calendar this year. For me, this is a very important part of the racing season. I really like this type of race, this atmosphere. There is a real passion for cycling here. Oliver Naesen has shown that he could compete with the best, but unfortunately luck has not been on his side. His most recent crash at the Tour of Flanders just reiterated that. But before starting a new chapter of the season, we are very motivated to finish this period of classics strongly. If ill fate would just leave us alone, we can achieve some great things. I have already participated at Paris-Roubaix five times, but it is important to remember each cobbled section well. At this race, even more than any place else, your position in the pack is paramount. I cannot wait to experience the atmosphere of Roubaix. And it starts with two days of reconnoitering.”

In two days, our riders will participate in reconnaissance training rides taking in 25 of the 29 cobbled sectors, adding up to 51.4 km of pavés.

Dillier replaces Barbier
Following a crash at the Tour of Flanders, Rudy Barbier required five stitches in his right knee. Unfortunately for Barbier, he has not sufficiently recovered to participate at Paris-Roubaix and will be replaced by Silvan Dillier. The Swiss champion broke his finger at Strade Bianche on March 3rd. But he made a successful comeback on March 30th by winning the Route Adelie.

Sunweb team for Paris-Roubaix
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): “The Hell of the North; one of the most heroic races of the year with over 54 kilometers of cobbles. Paris-Roubaix is a race where you need race aggressively from the start. After 93.5 kilometers, somewhat earlier than in the previous years, we reach the first cobble sections. This is a point where you cannot win the race, but for sure you can already lose it. After here, the Arenberg is then the next section where the next shift will likely be made. Finally, we need to remain sharp on the Camphin-en-Pévèle and Carrefour, because it is here where most of the time the decisive move is made with just 39 kilometers left to race. Edward is normally our leader for Sunday and we will see how his condition improves throughout the week after his chances were ruined due to sickness at yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. Alongside Edward, we have Mike and Søren who were up there well into the final at Dwars door Vlaanderen, as well as another strong performance yesterday at De Ronde.”

Paris-Roubaix Line-up:
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Edward Theuns (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Edward Theuns:
Meerbeke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Edward THEUNS (Belgium / Team Sunweb) pictured during the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 a one day cyclingrace WC between Gent and Meerbeke on 24-2-2018 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2018

Direct Energie for Paris-Roubaix
The French team have announced their Paris-Roubaix line-up:
Romain Cardis, Sylvain Chavanel, Damien Gaudin, Yohann Gene, Adrien Petit, Alexandre Pichot and Simon Sellier.

UAE Team Emirates for Paris-Roubaix
UAE Team Emirates will be at Paris-Roubaix, Sunday April 8, with the majority of its team, six of seven, the same that has marched through the Northern European races so far in these two weeks.

Roberto Ferrari will replace Ben Swift, who crashed badly in the Tour of Flanders. It’s nothing serious for the Englishman, but the medical staff prefers that he recovers completely given that Paris-Roubaix requires a huge about of energy.

“We’re going to Paris-Roubaix with the hope that our leader Alexander Kristoff has recovered in this week some form after colds that slowed down the first part this northern campaign,” said sports director Mario Scirea.

“Alex is a warrior, but at this level you have to be 100% ready to compete with the best. We are going to study a plan with our young riders, who are showing a good appreciation and spirit for these type of races.”

Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Filippo Ganna (Ita), Roberto Ferrari (Ita), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor), Marco Marcato (Ita), Oliviero Troia (Ita), Simone Consonni (Ita).
Sports directors: Mario Scirea (Ita), Philippe Mauduit (Fra).

The Entire Lotto Soudal Line-up Looks Ahead to Paris-Roubaix
The Lotto Soudal line-up for Paris-Roubaix did a recon yesterday and saw that the cobbles were very muddy. There are a total of 54.5 kilometres of cobbles to conquer on Sunday, spread over 29 sectors. Lotto Soudal goes to the hell without a specific leader, but with a team of motivated riders who all have a free role.

Lars Bak: “I really want to be in the break, that’s the best way for me to avoid crashing and to survive the selections. I think Jens Debusschere and Marcel Sieberg are the two men in our team with the best chances of surviving. I might be able to support them if I get in the break. Once you are part of the break, you need to hope for a good day and no bad luck. Then you see how long you can survive.”

Jens Debusschere: “Paris-Roubaix is my favourite race. Both as a junior and as a U23 rider I got second. As a pro I finished ninth in 2015. Last year I had three punctures. I must be able to ride the finale this year as the condition is good. I definitely have the same shape as in 2015, maybe even better. I feel fresher anyway. I’m not focussing on names or parts on the course, but I am watching my roomie Marcel Sieberg. He is the master of positioning. When you follow him, you can most of the times turn up the cobbles in the best position.”

Frederik Frison: “This is my second participation, after my début in 2016. I had a good feeling on the cobbles that day, but I got behind because of a crash and I could never return to the front. My perfect scenario is that I am part of a large breakaway. The race is less explosive than the ones over the Flemish hills. Everyone who has done the recon knows that de sectors of Haveluy and Arenberg will be crucial. Those two sectors are in a really bad state. It will come down to surviving that battle first.”

Jens Keukeleire: “It will be a special race. I have been ill and I am not yet in the shape I had before my illness. If I would have been at my best, that still wasn’t a guarantee to be riding the finale. On Sunday I will be supporting my teammates who feel best and I will try to follow as long as possible. I can play a role in different ways: by closing a gap or by taking someone to the front. If it would rain more the next days, I expect splits already early on in the race. The more selections you survive, the better the result can be.”

Nikolas Maes: “I kept calm during the recon after an intense Scheldeprijs on Wednesday. A recon is mainly necessary to test the material and that was all fine. By riding the Scheldeprijs I know have faith that after my illness – which kept me out of Bruges – De Panne and the Ronde – I can play a role for the team on Sunday. In 2017 I was part of the group of André Greipel, who sprinted to the seventh place. It’s nice to be racing in a team with so many riders who have a free role.”

Marcel Sieberg: “This will be my twelfth Paris-Roubaix, so this race doesn’t have any secrets to me anymore. It’s a special race. You can have the best legs of the season, but not be playing a role. Bad luck is an important factor. We knew there was a lot of mud, but some sectors were really bad during the recon. I was seventh in 2016 after a crash had caused the peloton to split. That proves that positioning at the front is so crucial. Hopefully as a team we still have many riders in the first part after the Forest of Arenberg, then we can see what’s possible for us.”

Jelle Wallays: “My love for Paris-Roubaix dates back to my first participation in the U23 edition. I immediately finished fourth without any specific preparation. I have always loved to race Paris-Roubaix because it’s such an open race. Unfortunately bad luck is also part of it. Two years ago I was riding in the group of Mathew Hayman who won in the end. But a puncture just before the Forest of Arenberg, crushed my ambitions. I deliberately didn’t ride the Scheldeprijs. I hope to get in a large breakaway to survive the first selection and to be able to play a role in the finale.”

Jens Debusschere:
Oudenaarde - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - DEBUSSCHERE Jens (BEL) of Lotto Soudal pictured during a training session prior to the Flanders Classics UCI WorldTour 102nd Ronde van Vlaanderen cycling race with start in Antwerpen and finish in Oudenaarde - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Mads Pedersen Extends Contract Through 2020
Trek-Segafredo is excited to announce that Danish champion Mads Pedersen, 22, has prolonged his contract through 2020. The talented Dane won five races in his first year with the team and had continued to show his promise this season, winning stage two in the Harold Sun Tour and, in the ongoing classics campaign, a fifth in Dwars door Vlaanderen followed by an outstanding second place in his first Ronde van Vlaanderen Sunday.

Mads Pedersen: “I am really thrilled to renew my contract with Trek-Segafredo. I feel at home in this team; the confidence they have put in me has made me grow a lot and I am pretty sure that with Trek-Segafredo I am at the best spot to continue to develop and gain experience, especially in the classics.

“I was happy to win early this season in Australia to show I was on track for the spring, and obviously I am very proud of my results this week. It was a good way to start, but I am still young, and I still need some experience, so there’s more to come I hope. For now, I am focused on Paris-Roubaix, it’s my favorite race, and maybe in a few years I will be here looking for the win.”

Trek-Segafredo General Manager, Luca Guercilena: “When we signed Mads last year, we obviously knew that he had a lot of potential, which he has proved during his first season with us by winning five races. There is no doubt of his strength. Then, this year, he continued on that same line and took it even to a higher level, winning a stage in Australia and riding a very solid TT at the end of a tough Tirreno-Adriatico.

“To see him perform the way he did this week, and especially taking an absolutely incredible second place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, exceeded all of our expectations. This is what we hoped for in a few years, and that he’s able to do this now, at the age of 22, predicts a very bright future – a future that we are happy to share with him!”

Mads Pedersen:
Giro delle Fiandre 2018 - 102th Edition - Ronde Van Vlaanderen - Tour of Flanders - Antwerp - Oudenaarde 267 km - 01/04/2018 - Mads Pedersen (DEN - Trek - Segafredo) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2018

Hammer Series Expands to Asia with Hammer Hong Kong
Final race in the Hammer Series for 2018 will be Hammer Hong Kong in partnership with Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon. Following Hammer Stavanger and Hammer Limburg, Hammer Hong Kong will see an exciting final day of racing to close the 2018 series. Series kicks off in Stavanger, Norway on May 25-27, before returning to Limburg, June 1-3 and finishing in Hong Kong on October 14.

2018 Hammer Series, the ground-breaking pro cycling series, today officially announces its expansion into Asia with a new partnership with Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon – the biggest road cycling event in Hong Kong.

Hammer Hong Kong, presented by Sun Kung Hai Properties, will take place on October 14. The race will be staged as part of the festival of cycling that is the Sun Kung Hai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon.

Hammer Hong Kong is a chance for fans to see the best teams in the world race close up in one of the world’s most exciting destinations. As part of the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon, Hammer Hong Kong will see the biggest and best UCI WorldTour cycling teams compete for glory in a special, one-off race day on the streets of the iconic territory.

“The Hong Kong Tourism Board is delighted to bring the Hammer Series to Hong Kong, in partnership with Velon,” said Anthony Lau, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.

“The Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon has grown from strength to strength since its first edition four years ago and has continued to expand and draw more top-notch cyclists from around the world.

“This partnership is a natural move for the HKTB to upgrade the UCI Asia Tour Class 1.1 road race into a world-class spectacle and is in line with our continued efforts to enhance every element of our diverse range of mega events which contribute to Hong Kong’s status as the events capital of Asia.”

“Sun Hung Kai Properties is proud to be the title sponsor for the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon for its fourth consecutive year,” said Adam Kwok, Executive Director of Sun Hung Kai Properties.

“We passionately believe in our ‘sports for charity’ effort and in promoting cycling at all levels to fans in Hong Kong, China and rest of the world. With this year’s introduction of Hammer Hong Kong presented by Sun Hung Kai Properties, an unprecedented number of WorldTour teams will be visiting and competing in Hong Kong for the first time and I’m sure fans locally and worldwide will have a whole lot to cheer for.”

Graham Bartlett, CEO of Velon, said: “We’re delighted to bring the Hammer Series to Hong Kong for a spectacular finish to the 2018 series. We couldn’t ask for better partners than the Hong Kong Tourism Board and Sun Hung Kai Properties to bring a fantastic race alive for the fans in Hong Kong and internationally. The teams are all really up for a big finish.”

Stephan Herth, Executive Director Summer Sports at Infront: “We are excited to see the Hammer Series evolve after the first successful season by adding a third race in Hong Kong to the 2018 calendar.

“Cycling is a key sport in Infront’s long-term strategy as well as an important pillar of the wider Wanda Sports business, as highlighted by events such as the recent Tour of Guangxi. This partnership with Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon, which brings Hammer Series to China, will enable us to further develop Asian cycling and to promote this new exciting format on a global basis.”

HONG KONG - OCTOBER 08:  Cyclists participate in a race during the Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon on October 8, 2017 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Top cyclists of 17 professional teams from 12 countries and regions compete in the first UCI Asia Tour Class 1.1 Road Race at Hong Kong Cyclothon, staged by the Hong Kong Tourism Board on 8 October, 2017.  (Photo by Keith Tsuji/Getty Images)

Following an exciting inaugural event in 2017, which was watched by more than three million cycling fans on social media channels alone, the Hammer Series is back for the 2018 season with three thrilling global races.

Each Hammer Series race provides intense competition in an innovative team-v-team format designed for digital and broadcast viewing. Unlike traditional stage-based races in which individual riders take to the podium, the Hammer Series pits teams of five riders against each other over extremely testing courses to determine the best team.

The exact format of this special, one-off race day in Hong Kong will be revealed in the coming weeks and will offer a high octane, “All Out” finish to the Hammer racing for 2018.

Mitchelton-SCOTT General Manager Shayne Bannan said: “The extension of the Hammer Series to Hong Kong is an exciting prospect for us on a number of levels. We are obviously invested in Velon and the future we see the Hammer Series playing in cycling, but we are also heavily involved in the region, particularly with our Chinese-registered UCI Continental team Mitchelton-BikeExchange. We recognized the huge amount of potential in Hong Kong and China a number of years ago now and we are excited by the growth we are already seeing in not only riders, but also in support and infrastructure. This collaboration will only enhance this movement. The combination of these interests make Hammer Hong Kong an important late season target for us.”

Mitchelton-SCOTT rider Sam Bewley said: “Aside from the racing, one of the big things you notice when racing in Hong Kong is the engagement with the fans. It’s great to see thousands of people on their bikes for the community event and the kids’ enthusiasm for the clinics we held there last year. Introducing the Hammer Series, which is aimed at bringing cycling to the people, is the perfect fit.”

UAE Team Emirates participated in the debut Hammer Series event in Limburg, Netherlands, in June 2017 and has also competed in Hong Kong.

Team Manager Carlo Sarroni said: “In the past two years, our sports group participated in the Criterium in Hong Kong and we appreciated the constant increasing quality level of the organization and of the cycling competitiveness. Hong Kong has everything to become an important appointment in the world cycling calendar and the Hammer Series leg will be the best way to make a huge step towards this goal. We obtained victories in the past two years in Hong Kong, we’d love to win in the Hammer Series.”

For more information on Hammer Series, see www.hammerseries.com

Hammerseries, 02-06-2017 Vaals , climbstage

Good Start to the Season for Alecto Cycling Team
Tour of Groningen – Rick Ottema won the Tour of Groningen, supported by a great team. This resulted in 3rd (René), 4th (Daan) and 5th (Folkert) places. The week before, Rick proved to be in shape by becoming sixth in the Ronde van Drenthe (UCI HC). René Hooghiemster also took a podium place in the Ster van Zwolle (3rd) and Abe Celi in his home race Houtse Linies (2nd). A particularly good start to the season!

On the 7th of April, the next race in the calendar of the Topcompetition is the Omloop van de Braakman.

Rick Ottema wins the Tour of Groningen:

Point S Auto presented by Nokian Tyres pro team
The Point S Auto presented by Nokian Tyres team (Point S Nokian) began the 2018 racing season with multiple race podiums and a victory. Our riders and staff would like to thank Point S Auto for the continued support and welcome Nokian Tyres North America to our family of sponsors and partners.

Team manager Molly Cameron explains; “We run our program to be the single most professional team in the United States. Our technical partners are industry pioneers and best in their class; our riders and staff are held to a high standard of excellence. We have created a positive and nurturing team environment that empowers young women and teaches developing athletes the vital communication skills and techniques they will use throughout their careers.”

“It is imperative for us to continue to support women at professional stage races and all of the premier cycling events in North America. We’ve built an incredible team culture and with the high level of support our infrastructure provides; our athletes are well positioned to excel and thrive.”

Former road and cyclocross professional Jessica Cutler joins the team staff as director sportif; “I am excited to be returning to women’s professional cycling in this new role and particularly as a part of this program that I admire and believe in.”

New to the team for 2018 are professional riders Caitlin Laroche and Christy Keely. Beth Ann Orton, Nicole Pressprich, Alexandra Burton and Mallory Miller continue along with Sophie Russenberger, Sophie Andrews and Stephanie Chase. Winning California standout Melanie Wong joins the program as a stagiaire. Portland Sports Group and the Point S Nokian team continue a decade of creating opportunities for young women and supporting professional athletes in North America at events across the world.

Follow the team as they race the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, USA Crits and UCI events across North America.

Behind the scenes at Ronde van Vlaanderen
Ronde van Vlaanderen is one of cycling’s most treasured races, a Classic that can shape one’s career. On April 1st, Niki Terpstra won it for the first time with a beautiful solo long-range attack, becoming the first Dutchman in 32 years to take home the trophy.

By doing this, Terpstra cemented his status as one of the peloton’s finest Classics rider and now boasts a palmarès which includes Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, E3 Harelbeke and Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Watch these spectacular and emotional footage of our team during what’s arguably the biggest one-day race of the cycling season, relive Niki’s heroic ride to the finish in Oudenaarde and hear what he had to say after his victory.

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