EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!
Free cycling news
The peloton moves on to Oman and Provence and we have all the news. Remco Evenepoel worries about climbs – TOP STORY. Rider news: Tadej Pogačar had covid-19, Egan Bernal feels reborn, Julian Alaphilippe missed important training, offers for Tom Pidcock, Patrick Lefevere not losing sleep over Tormans, Gianni Moscon postpones season, no Tour de France for Richie Porte, George Bennett new training, Victor Campenaerts inspires and Alejandro Valverde misses Vuelta a Murcia. Team news: Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, AG2R Citroën, Arkea Samsic, DSM and BikeExchange-Jayco to Tour de la Provence. DSM, B&B Hotels-KTM and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert to Oman. Bahrain Victorious and Merida Bikes extend and Wahoo join EF Education-EasyPost and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB. Race news: Teams for the Tour of Oman and the Tour of the Basque Country route. Plus ‘The Art of Sprinting’ video with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and Laurens ten Dam finds the next Colombian Tour winner. Coffee, coffee, coffee.
TOP STORY: Remco Evenepoel: “Steep Climbs are Still a Question Mark”
Remco Evenepoel has spoken about a ‘perfect start’ to his season. In the last Tour of Valencia, the 22 year-old won a stage and the young rider competition and finished second overall. “It’s a bit of a shame that I lost the yellow in the last kilometre on Friday.”
Evenepoel was riding well on Friday on the Alto Antenas del Maigmó, the last climb of stage 3, but his hopes were over with 1 kilometre to go to the finish. “That’s no shame,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “On the other hand, steep climbs like Friday’s, that’s still a question mark. When did I fail? In Portugal two years ago, when we finished at Malhão in the Tour of the Algarve which I won.”
However, the climb to Malhão was less than three kilometres long, while on the Alto Antenas del Maigmó it was almost ten kilometres of climbing. The 22-year-old Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider has struggled a few times on such climbs and also takes on Monte Zoncolan, which he climbed last year’s debut in the Giro d’Italia. “Then the team was with me the whole time, until it got really steep. There are still question marks around that. We have yet to discover that.”
There is work to be done, is the conclusion. “We still have to work on those steep climbs, because you get those too in the Basque Country, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. I think if I’m in top shape, 110%, I should be able to survive those hurdles more easily.”
Tadej Pogačar Had Covid-19 Last Week
Dr. Adrian Rotunno, Medical Director: “Tadej tested positive for the virus and had mild symptoms. As per guidelines, and in the interest of his health, and the greater community, he underwent the mandatory isolation and recovery period, before resuming light training. He is still due to undergo some final medical clearance testing, but should be on track to resume his preparation for his first race of the season, the UAE Tour.”
Pogačar recovering from covid:
Egan Bernal: “I Feel Reborn”
Egan Bernal was allowed to leave the Clínica Universidad de La Sabana, the hospital where he was admitted at the end of January after his serious training crash, to continue to recover in a rehabilitation centre. He was grateful to all his doctors and medical staff for their dedication and work.
“I have to thank them for giving me a second chance. The truth is, I feel reborn,” Bernal said in a video posted online by the hospital. The winner of two Grand Tours is now ready to start his rehabilitation process two weeks after his accident. He has no complications and his injuries are stable and recovering.
The Colombian was very relieved to be in such good hands. “Without the help of the medical staff, it would have been a very different story. I am very grateful to them. One minute I was preparing for the Tour de France and giving myself completely on my time trial bike, and the next I was fighting for my life.”
Bernal thanks the hospital (Instagram):
Alaphilippe Missed Important Training Week
Don’t expect too much from Julian Alaphilippe in the Tour de La Provence starting on Thursday. According to the World champion: “I missed the second team training camp in Portugal because of a bad cold, which kept me off the bike for a week.”
“That team camp was essential in the build-up to the start of the season and I was not able to catch up with the accumulated arrears,” Alaphilippe told Het Nieuwsblad. “So don’t expect too much from me. I am not one hundred percent, motivated all the more. Starting for your own people, in the rainbow jersey, that’s always fun.”
The Frenchman says that he will start his season relaxed, because his goals are set later. He has canceled the Flemish races. “The Ardennes classics will be very important, along with the Strade-Tirreno-San Remo block with the Tour of the Basque Country in-between. In the end, for me, it’s a fairly classic program, and after that the focus goes completely to the Tour.”
But first the Tour de La Provence, for which Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl saw Kasper Asgreen and Davide Ballerini drop out after positive covid tests. “We are indeed handicapped at the start. Kasper had made the prologue a goal, it would be a nice duel with Filippo Ganna. Davide was here to win stages like last year. Now we only have five riders at the start. But with Ilan Van Wilder I have a young teammate at my side who will want to show himself in the chrono.”
Alaphilippe not at 100%:
Offers From Other Teams for Tom Pidcock
Cyclo-cross World champion Tom Pidcock will start his 2022 road season in the Volta ao Algarve next week for the second year in a row for the INEOS Grenadiers team. Whether his future lies with the WorldTeam is still uncertain, as his contract with the team has not yet been extended.
According to VeloNews, who has learned from a reliable source, Pidcock is on the market for the 2023 season as INEOS Grenadiers has not offered the British rider a contract extension yet. His agent and team declined to comment, according to VeloNews, but they have learned that teams and other agents are aware of the all-rounder’s situation and that at least one serious offer for his services is currently pending.
Reportedly, a leading US bicycle manufacturer is trying hard to fund a possible move to a squad they are currently working with, but names are not being mentioned. It is difficult to estimate how much Pidcock would be worth in the current market, but assuming INEOS Grenadiers continues to hesitate to renew his contract, a possible bidding war could push his price up.
A departure from INEOS Grenadiers is currently far from certain and it is unclear whether the squad has a clause giving them the option to extend Pidcock’s current contract on favourable terms.
Pidcock on the move?
Patrick Lefevere is Not Losing Sleep Over Torman’s CX Team
Patrick Lefevere has responded to the fuss surrounding the Tormans CX team in an interview with HLN. On Tuesday it was announced that Emiel Verstrynge and Joran Wyseure will be riding for Alpecin-Fenix from 1 March and will not be joining the new Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl cyclo-cross team. Quinten Hermans and Corné van Kessel may be following the same path. “Van Kasteren is a Dutchman with a big mouth,” Lefevere now says about Hans van Kasteren, the manager of the four riders.
Last week, Lefevere and Van Kasteren were still talking. Wyseure, Verstrynge, Van Kessel and Hermans were offered by the Dutchman to Lefevere. “It was a take or leave package. I had nothing against that. But I told Van Kasteren that I will not sign a contract with anyone until I have seen and spoken to the person,” said Lefevere, who expected Verstrynge, Wyseure and Hermans to fit well into his team.
“I am less interested in Corné van Kessel. But maybe I could also have found a good role for him,” he said. On Tuesday morning at eight o’clock, however, he received a message from Wyseure: ‘Sorry Patrick, the appointment cannot go on’. “I heard that he signed with the Roodhooft brothers on Monday afternoon.”
According to Lefevere, this problem was partly created by Christoph or Philip Roodhooft. “I heard that one of the brothers called Jan Tormans,” explains Lefevere. “He said: ‘If you bring those four riders to West Flanders, you will have to deal with me’. Then I thought: where did I end up? I didn’t want to be a part of this story anymore.”
Lefevere is not discouraged and he continues with his cross plans. “I’m not going to lose sleep over it,” he said. “We will see. Maybe in four years I won’t be here anymore. But maybe in four years from his (Van Kasterens) plans nothing will be left.”
Lefevere to have a cyclo-cross team:
Gianni Moscon Postpones Season Start Due to Bronchitis
Gianni Moscon has had to postpone the start of his season with Astana Qazaqstan, the Italian sports paper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. The 27-year-old was supposed to start his season in the Volta ao Algarve, but has been struggling with bronchitis.
Moscon has since recovered, but was unable to train for several days and can no longer prepare in time for the Volta ao Algarve (16-20 February) in Portugal. According to La Gazzetta dello Sports, there is now a good chance that Moscon’s first race will be the Faun-Ardèche Classic on February 26 or the Trofeo Laigueglia in early March.
The Italian moved from INEOS Grenadiers to Astana Qazaqstan this winter. With his new team, Moscon is to be the leader in the spring classics. “I felt good with my old team, but the moment to change teams was there. In recent years I have not achieved many good results for myself, but I have gained a lot of experience,” Moscon said in an earlier interview.
In 2021 Moscon had three victories; two stage victories in the Tour of the Alps and the GP di Lugano, he was also fourth in a tough Paris-Roubaix. In the Giro d’Italia he also played an important role for his teammate and overall winner Egan Bernal.
Bronchitis for Moscon:
No Tour de France for Richie Porte in His Final Year
Richie Porte will not be at the start of the Tour de France in his last year as a professional cyclist. The 37 year-old Australian wants to enjoy and enjoy his farewell year, which he doesn’t think is possible in the Tour de France. “I rode the Tour last year, but I didn’t enjoy it anymore,” he told Cycling Weekly.
Porte is more than tired of the daily hectic pace of the Tour. “I want to enjoy my last year as a professional cyclist and then the Tour de France is not the right race to ride. I can no longer enjoy the pressure that comes with it.” According to Porte, the circle was already complete in 2020. That year he finally managed to take a podium place in the Tour: Porte finished third in the general classification, behind the Slovenians Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič.
“It was always my goal to one day be on that Tour podium and in 2020 that dream finally came true. I feel I don’t have much to prove in the Tour. Winning a Tour stage was always a goal. I never managed to do that, but I can still end my career with a satisfied feeling.”
Not entirely coincidentally, the Australian cyclist is focusing mainly on the Giro d’Italia this year. The Australian first rode the Italian Grand Tour in 2010, where he finished seventh in the final overall of the Giro, riding for Saxo Bank. He also took the best young rider jersey.
No 2022 Tour for Richie Porte:
George Bennett Training Differently with UAE Team Emirates
George Bennett made the switch from one top team to another last winter after seven years with Jumbo-Visma for UAE Team Emirates. The New Zealander has only spent a week with his new teammates, but he is already able to see the difference from his previous team he told Rouleur.
One of the main differences is the training approach. The 31 year-old rider has a new trainer with different ideas. “At the end of my period at Jumbo-Visma, we did a lot of intervals, alternating between two minutes of intensive and two minutes of rest, while maintaining the volume. It was a general approach. In other words: it worked for Primoz (Roglič) and Wout (van Aert), so it worked for everyone.”
“Here, at least for the time being, work is being done more specifically,” he said about UAE Team Emirates. “I was tested twice in the sports lab in Girona and analysed in detail. And they looked beyond just my VO2max. This is important. At Jumbo I was often tested for that, but VO2max is overestimated. There is a huge gap between VO2max and cycling performance.”
“No matter how high your VO2max is, it’s about how fresh you arrive at the final climb. It’s all about repetition and efficiency. At UAE, they really dived into those numbers. They know when I suffer. By studying my training files, we can now see far in advance when I’m going to be in trouble. Attention has also been paid to my pedal movement. They really looked under my hood to see what works and what doesn’t,” Bennett described how things differ with his new team.
All this information also leads to concrete changes in the way of training. “I do fewer hours at a higher intensity. Normally I would do thirty-hour weeks during this period, now I can’t get to that for a long time. Last week I did seventeen hours, the week before twenty. It makes sense, if you look at the way of racing and how it has changed. Last year riders attacked from sixty kilometres before the finish,” said Bennett, who has also been in the weights room more in recent months. “I have new pedals, new shoes, a new saddle, a new groupset, a new frame, a new handlebar… Everything feels different. But luckily I’m not neurotic about my position like some guys are,” said Bennett, who will start his season in his new team’s home race: The UAE Tour.
George Bennett happy with his new team:
Victor Campenaerts Inspires Innovation
Lotto Soudal has had an excellent start to the season with five wins already in recent weeks, marking the best start in nine years. An important factor in that success, according to sports director Nikolas Maes, is the return of Victor Campenaerts. “Campenaerts inspires innovation,” said Maes in conversation with Sporza.
“If you ask our young men Florian Vermeersch and Brent Van Moer whether they have learned a lot from Victor Campenaerts, they will say ‘yes’ in unison,” Maes thinks. “Together with Victor, Florian and Brent are currently staying in altitude rooms of the brand new Syncrosfera hotel in Denia, Spain. That is new for us. Victor has regularly come up with something innovative. We support him in that as much as possible.”
“We also notice that Victor’s innovative training methods are being picked up by the other riders in our team. Campenaerts has provided a new wind and an upgrade of the professionalisation within our team,” Maes points out the influence of Campenaerts, who made the switch last winter from Qhubeka-NextHash.
Maes also gives other reasons for the improved performance. “Our riders now go to each race with a clear goal, in the past it was with a less clear goal. They sometimes also have another trainer, who is not affiliated with the team. The communication between the team and those trainers has improved a lot now. In addition, we also brought a psychologist on board, about whom the riders give positive feedback,” explains Maes.
Finally, Maes also mentions the attitude within the team. “There is much more of a mentality to go through fire for each other. The riders make each other better.” Lotto Soudal is in the lower regions of the WorldTour and has to fight against relegation, a turnaround was also necessary, according to the sports director. “There was an awareness among the riders and the staff that this year had to be different and that it would be different from previous years.”
Campenaerts: home for two months:
Alejandro Valverde Misses the Vuelta a Murcia
The Movistar leader, Alejandro Valverde, cannot participate in the Vuelta a Murcia in his home region in his final year. Valverde is not allowed to start due to the team’s health protocol, as a precaution.
Movistar reports positive covid cases within the team that rode the Tour of Valencia last week. All riders who rode the stage race will be kept at home this week as a precaution. This means that Valverde cannot start in the Vuelta a Murcia (February 12) and the brand new race Clásica Jaén – Paraíso Interior on February 14th.
Valverde knows the Vuelta a Murcia like the back of his hand as he has already won the race five times in his career. The first time was in 2004. He then did it again in 2007, 2008, 2014 and 2017. “It’s a real shame that I can’t say goodbye to my home race, and that I can’t discover the new race of the Clásica Jaén. I wish my colleagues from Movistar the best of luck this weekend,” said Valverde, now 41, on Twitter. Whether he can start next week in the Ruta del Sol (16-20 February), is not yet known.
No home Murcia race for Valverde:
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to Tour de la Provence
Julian Alaphilippe will show his rainbow jersey for the first time this season.
A 7.2km prologue in Berre l’Etang will get things underway at the seventh edition of the Tour de la Provence, but the main attraction of the race will come a bit later in the week, on the fourth and final day. Then, on a stage with over 3200 vertical meters, the peloton will tackle the slopes of the gruelling Montagne de Lure – a 17.7km ascent averaging 6% which was used twice in Paris-Nice, at the 2009 and 2013 editions, and where the winner of the Tour de la Provence will emerge.
Just like last year, Julian Alaphilippe will roll out his season at the French race. The 29-year-old from Saint-Amand-Montrond wrote history five months ago, when he captured his second consecutive rainbow jersey, and will be eager to show it for the first time in 2022 at the event which he finished runner-up in 2021 after animating the week with his spectacular trademark attacks.
Winner of two consecutive stages and of the points jersey at the previous edition, Davide Ballerini will also be on Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s roster for the four-day event having enjoyed a solid start to the season at the Saudi Tour, together with Ronde van Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke champion Kasper Asgreen, Dries Devenyns, Pieter Serry and newcomers Ilan Van Wilder and Louis Vervaeke.
“It’s for the first time in three years that the race starts with a time trial, and it should be something for Kasper, Ilan, and maybe Julian, they have a chance of getting a nice result there. The next two stages should have the sprinters and the puncheurs respectively in the spotlight, but the wind in the region could play an important role, so we’ll see how things will go there. The last day is the hardest one, and that’s where the general classification will be decided. It will be good to see where our riders are at this point in the season,” explained Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Geert Van Bondt.
10.02–13.02 Tour de la Provence (FRA) 2.Pro
Julian Alaphilippe (FRA)
Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Davide Ballerini (ITA)
Dries Devenyns (BEL)
Pieter Serry (BEL)
Ilan Van Wilder (BEL)
Louis Vervaeke (BEL).
Sports Director: Geert Van Bondt (BEL) and Rik van Slycke (BEL).
Nairo Quintana Recovered from Covid Starts Season in Tour de La Provence
Nairo Quintana will start the new season in the Tour de La Provence today (Thursday). Despite a recent covid infection, the 32 year-old Colombian is the leader of the Arkéa-Samsic team in the French race. “I hope to return to the peloton in good condition,” Quintana said in a press release.
The two-time Grand Tour winner was infected with covid in the run-up to the new season, but has since made a full recovery. “I feel physically fine again and have been training for a few weeks now. After my infection, I managed to increase my training volume little by little. If the opportunity arises, I hope to play a significant role in the standings. I will do everything I can.”
Quintana was the overall winner of the Tour de La Provence two years ago, soon after joining Arkéa-Samsic. He was also the best in the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var a week after his overall victory in Provence. Quintana will be looking at the final stage this year, as the finish is on the climb to Montagne de Lure ski station. The Arkéa-Samsic squad also consists of Dayer Quintana, Nicolas Edet, Romain Hardy, Maxime Bouet, Miguel Florez and Łukasz Owsian. The Tour de La Provence is scheduled for February 10-13.
Arkéa-Samsic for Tour de La Provence 2022:
Maxime Bouet (Fra)
Nicolas Edet (Fra)
Miguel Florez (Col)
Romain Hardy (Fra)
Łukasz Owsian (Pol)
Dayer Quintana (Col)
Nairo Quintana (Col).
Nairo Quintana to start 2022 in Provence:
Tour de la Provence – FEB 10-13
Pim Ligthart – Team DSM coach: “Tour de la Provence has an interesting parcours, with something for everyone including a prologue, a flat stage, a hilly stage and a mountain top finish. Our focus for the race will be on working well together as a group, and aiming for stage success together. The opening prologue gives the guys an opportunity to test themselves and go all out before a fast sprint stage with possible echelons. While in the final two stages we want to race aggressively and create chances and possibilities for ourselves as a team.”
Romain Combaud (FRA)
Mark Donovan (GBR)
Tim Naberman (NED)
Florian Stork (GER)
Martijn Tusveld (NED).
Mark Donovan to Provence:
Tour de la Provence (February 10-13)
Lilian Calmejane: “My return to racing at the Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise and the Etoile de Bessèges – Tour du Gard went well. I feel in good condition, building on the momentum from the end of last season. I worked well throughout the winter and I’m in a good place. The Tour de la Provence is a race that I know well. The past few years, the course has changed, and it is more difficult for me to go for the overall, like in 2016 (3rd). Nevertheless, we will have a strong team and with the stages on the program, there are great things to do. I hope to step it up a notch to tackle the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche weekend well, which are two races that I have already won. Then I’ll head to my first UCI WorldTour races of the year with the Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.”
Andrea Vendrame will be doing his first race of 2022 at the Tour de la Provence. Lawrence Naesen still suffers from a shoulder injury following his crash during the last stage of Volta a la Communitat Valenciana. Damien Touzé will replace him in Tour de la Provence.
*** Lilian Calmejane and Antoine Raugel tested positive today as part of the AG2R Citroën internal Covid-19 health protocol. They are isolated and they will not be taking the start of the Tour de la Provence. They will not be replaced.
Groves to lead Team BikeExchange-Jayco in their hunt for stage wins at the six-day Tour of Oman
23-year-old Australian sprinter Kaden Groves will lead Team BikeExchange-Jayco at the six-day Tour of Oman later this week, as he looks for sprint success, with three potential sprint stages on offer.
Alongside the young fast man will be fellow Australian’s Cameron Meyer and Callum Scotson, making a stopover in Oman on their return to Europe, after a busy month of racing in Australia. The duo will give the squad strong options on the hillier stages along with young up and coming climbing talent Kevin Colleoni.
New 2022 recruit Campbell Stewart will make his debut appearance for the Australian outfit in Oman and will be joined by fellow track star Kelland O’Brien, also making his first racing appearance of the 2022 season in Team BikeExchange-Jayco colours. Rounding out the mixed seven-rider squad will be Alex Konychev, coming direct from the Saudi Tour, where he helped assist the team to two spectacular victories.
Aside from three potential sprint stages on stages one, two and six, the team will also get to test their legs on some hillier stages, such as day three’s 2.8km final climb, averaging 6.5% up to Qurayyat, and stage five’s summit finish in Jabal Al Akhdhar/Green Mountain. This penultimate stage has a 5.7km climb averaging out at 10.5%, which is set to really shape the final general classification standings.
Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Kevin Colleoni (ITA)
Kaden Groves (AUS)
Alex Konychev (ITA)
Cameron Meyer (AUS)
Kelland O’Brien (AUS) *First race of 2022
Callum Scotson (AUS)
Campbell Stewart (NZL) *Debut race for TBEX.
Kaden Groves: “I think it will be really good to start the season off properly in Oman, I have raced the UAE Tour a few times and have always enjoyed racing that style of racing, flatter stages with good weather, so I am really keen to get to Oman. I had two days of racing in Valencia which was good to get my feeling again of being in the bunch, and now I am really looking forward to the race in Oman as it is the first goal of the year for me. We have a good team to do some lead-outs and we also have Colleoni for the hillier GC days. It will be my first time doing this race and I am just really keen to start the year off well. Hopefully we get can some good results, I really believe that with this team, and my current form, we can get a podium and some wins.”
Tristan Hoffman – Sport Director: “With Kaden we have our best chance to make a good result and that will be our focus in Oman, but that doesn’t mean on the other stages we will do nothing. We will try to race aggressively and if there is a breakaway or crosswinds, we would like to be in the front with a few riders to always be well presented. With Kaden, we have him for the three sprint stages and even maybe the fourth stage when he is in a super good shape. We also have Kevin Colleoni to have a shot at the general classification, this will be good for him to gain experience and let’s see how far he can go with this. In general, we have a real mix of riders, some young, some older and some starting their season here, so we are looking forward to it and hopefully we can continue with the good work from the Saudi Tour.”
Tour of Oman – FEB 10-15
Phil West – Team DSM coach: “We’re looking forward to getting back to action in Oman. It’s the first race for many of the guys here and we are looking forward to putting the hard work we have done in the winter into practice at the race. The parcours in Oman has a variety of nice challenges across the stages, with days for the sprinters, puncheurs and climbers. We will focus on one stage at a time and look for day results along the way, aiming to leave our impression on the race with some aggressive racing, showing our Team DSM jersey towards the front.”
Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (NOR)
Henri Vandenabeele (BEL)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA).
Søren Kragh Andersen to Oman:
B&B Hotels-KTM Out of the Tour of Oman Due to Covid
The B&B Hotels-KTM team will not be on the start line of the Tour of Oman. The French team is struggling with several covid cases and has withdrawn from the Middle East stage race.
B&B Hotels-KTM should have started Jens Debusschere, Eliot Lietaer, Jeremy Lécroq and Pierre Barbier, but several corona infections have stopped the team competing. The Tour of Oman starts on Thursday and ends Tuesday next week. The virus has been in the pro peloton in recent weeks. Kasper Asgreen tested positive this week, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise is unable to start in the Tour of Antalya and Jumbo-Visma, DSM and BikeExchange-Jayco withdrew from the Tour of Valencia last week.
Jens Debusschere to miss Oman:
New Contract for Rein Taaramäe, Who Starts his Season in Oman
Estonian climber Rein Taaramäe, who wrote history for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux several times in 2021, extended his contract with the Belgian World Team until the end of 2023. The stage winner of the latest Tour of Spain became the first rider of the team to wear the leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour. In June, he was already the first rider of the team to win the national title in the time trial discipline.
At the age of 34, Taaramäe will start his second season with the team of Jean-François Bourlart, his fifteenth as a professional rider, in the Tour of Oman (2.Pro, 10-15/02). After two years of absence, the event in the sultanate of the Middle East returns on the calendar with a six day race.
The sprinters have three opportunities to battle for the stage win, in the first stage towards capital Muscat, in the second one towards former capital Sohar and in the closing stage finishing in Matrah. Next to the crosswinds, differences in the individual classification can be made on the explosive final in Qurayyat (2.8km at 6.5%) on day three, in the hilly fourth stage with three repetitions of the Boushar Al Amerat (4km at 6.6%) and in the queen stage towards the Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) (6km at 9.9%) the next day.
Just like Taaramäe, Jan Hirt will start his 2022 season with a second participation in the Tour of Oman. Belgian riders Tom Devriendt and Kévin Van Melsen, Danish rider Julius Johansen and Frenchman Hugo Page complete the line up under the direction of Valerio Piva.
Rein Taaramäe: “Thanks to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux and its passionate staff, I became myself again. Five years after my last Grand Tour stage win, I managed to repeat this performance in 2021. In sports, each aspect has to be perfect to be able to keep performing year after year. Concerning myself, the support of the direction was key in overcoming my career slump. I gained confidence thanks to the long term plan of Aike Visbeek, and under the direction of Valerio Piva I became a Grand Tour leader for the first time in my career, at the age of 34.”
“I want to continue chasing success in 2022 and win races. It doesn’t matter which ones, as each victory is big on this level. I also want to perform in support of Louis Meintjes and play a role in the development of young talents such as Kobe Goossens. I expect to be ready for the start of the season, as I feel better as twelve months ago. I just finished three weeks of altitude camp in Rwanda, where I managed to execute all training plans. The battle for the general classification in the Tour of Oman is a nice first challenge.”
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager): “Rein Taaramäe gained confidence within our team and found renewed pleasure, which was translated in good performances last season. His talent is widely acknowledged and with the help of our trainers and sports dieticians he managed to exploit his potential and extend his palmarès. Just like Louis Meintjes, Rein proves that Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux offers the riders an environment in which they feel well and can perform at their best. I’m convinced that we will experience more nice moments with Rein Taaramäe.”
Tour of Oman Line Up:
Kévin Van Melsen.
Direction: Valerio Piva.
Bahrain Victorious and Merida Bikes Extend Partnership
Bahrain Victorious is delighted to announce a multi-year partnership extension with MERIDA BIKES.
Since the team was founded in 2017, MERIDA BIKES has been an integral team partner and will continue to supply the team with race-winning bikes and continuous innovation, alongside their technical partners FSA, Vision, Prologo, Continental, and Shimano.
Milan Erzen, Managing Director, commented: “Since the beginning, Merida has been integral to this project. They have provided us with the best equipment with a desire to continually innovate with our rider feedback. We have just finished an incredible season, which is a testament to our great setup with MERIDA. We are excited for the project to continue in the future and work on winning bike races.”
Wolfgang Renner, CEO MERIDA Europe GmbH, commented “Since its launch in 2017, we have been able to be part of this great team, and we are looking back at five successful seasons. Over the years, we were able to witness the outstanding progression and joined the team in celebrating their many great achievements. With another exciting season just about to start, we are thrilled to confirm our ongoing involvement in the team.
We are looking forward to extending this successful partnership with another multiple-year contract and supporting the team with the most advanced material possible. By closely working with the experienced staff and dedicated racers, we will do our utmost to enable the team to achieve its goals.”
Wahoo Joins Team as Official Training Partner
Wahoo, EF Education-EasyPost and EF Education-TIBCO-SVB, three of the most innovative and disruptive entities in cycling, have joined forces.
Starting in 2022 and with a multi-year contract, Wahoo will be the official training partner for two of the most exciting teams in the WorldTour: EF Education–EasyPost and Women’s WorldTour squad EF Education–TIBCO–SVB. Together, the professional teams have taken the sport of cycling by storm with a series of impressive race wins and inspiring stories, both on and off the course. With expanded support by Wahoo, the teams are set to continue to energise professional cycling in 2022 and beyond.
The partnership will give team athletes access to the complete Wahoo ecosystem for indoor and outdoor training, including the Wahoo SYSTM training app, KICKR smart power trainers, ELEMNT GPS bike computers, TICKR heart rate monitors, race-winning SPEEDPLAY pedals, and the ELEMNT RIVAL multisport watch. Athletes will use the connected Wahoo ecosystem to optimise their race preparation, monitor their performance, and provide critical data during events. The SYSTM 4DP® testing and workout-personalisation platform will allow both athletes and coaches to get a comprehensive picture of each riders’ strengths and weaknesses while tailoring workouts to their unique power profile. The team will also partner with Wahoo to create special training content that will only be available through the SYSTM app.
Wahoo and the teams each share a passion for thinking differently and challenging the status quo. EF has made a name for itself in the peloton by bringing new energy to professional cycling, both in their racing and through epic accomplishments like rider Lachlan Morton’s Alt Tour, where he rode the entire Tour de France course self-supported to raise money for World Bicycle Relief. This partnership represents greater alignment between Wahoo’s values and the professional teams they support.
“We’re honoured to expand our partnership with EF Education–Easypost and EF Education–TIBCO–SVB, two teams that share our values and our innovative spirit,” said Wahoo CEO Mike Saturnia. “Wahoo is the training ecosystem of choice for many professional cycling teams, but this is the first time we’ve been able to offer such a broad range of support to teams that not only represent the best of professional road racing, but who share Wahoo’s vision of a future for cycling that is accessible, inspiring, and inclusive. We can’t wait to see what these teams accomplish in 2022 and beyond.”
Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of EF Education-EasyPost: “Like EF Education-EasyPost, Wahoo has never been afraid to take chances and innovate. From their industry-disrupting KICKR smart trainers and the ELEMNT family of cycling computers to their reinvigoration of the SPEEDPLAY pedal system, Wahoo knows that you have to take risks if you want to make the podium. Their products are intuitive and user-friendly while meeting the demands of a top level racing team — a perfect combination. We’re excited to deepen the partnership with Wahoo so we can continue to push the envelope, on and off the road.”
Linda Jackson, founder of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB: “As our Silicon Valley-based team steps up to the WorldTour, it’s been a priority to seek out technical partners who could help to maximise our riders’ potential. We value partners who prioritise innovation, ease of use, and top-shelf performance. As with every partnership on our team, Wahoo’s commitment to the advancement of women’s cycling is something we connect with. Since our inception in 2004, we have been a forward-looking team, developing riders to be competitive at the highest levels of the sport. Like us, Wahoo has a trail-blazing spirit and that’s what makes this partnership so exciting.”
Tour of Oman 2022 World Champions and Rising Talents
The landscapes of the 2022 Tour of Oman are set to both amaze the world and push international champions to their limits over six days of racing (February 10th-15th).
Sprinters such as the British icon Mark Cavendish, climbing talents like the rising German champion Marco Brenner and all-rounders such as the 2014 World Champion Rui Costa will all find opportunities to shine and write glorious new pages in the history of the event. Since the first edition in 2010, winners have included riders of the calibre of Fabian Cancellara, Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome.
Fast men are expected to be immediately in action in this 11th edition of the race, provided they survive the windy traps of the first two stages leading to the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Suhar Corniche, respectively. With Cavendish in the race, this portion proves to be particularly exciting – when it comes to sprinting, there aren’t many riders in the whole history of cycling that can match his skills and achievements. The British superstar, who shares the record for most wins in the Tour de France (34) with Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, won the final stage of the Tour of Oman in 2011, on the historic Matrah Corniche. After a brilliant return to the forefront last year, the Manx Missile will be able to rely on a strong Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team to battle through the desert and lead him out in the final kilometres with partners such as the experienced Iljo Keisse and the gifted Mauro Schmid.
At 27 years old, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) also holds a place in the history books since he sprinted to the prestigious yellow and pink jerseys on the roads of the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. Coming off the Saudi Tour, the Colombian “Misil” will take on the Omani roads with the support of one of the best lead-out men of this century, Maximiliano Richeze. Belgian sprinter Amaury Capiot (Team Arkea-Samsic) will be eager to challenge these two icons, following a strong start of the season (winner in the GP La Marseillaise). It will also be interesting to see how Campbell Stewart’s talents fare on the road, after leading him to a World Champion title on the track. The New-Zealander, also a silver medallist in last year’s Olympic Games, embarks on a new adventure with his first race for Team BikeExchange-Jayco alongside another young sprinting talent, Kaden Groves.
These fast men can expect to be pushed to their limits by all-rounders such as Soren Kragh Andersen, a stage winner in the Tour of Oman (in 2017, on the Quarayyat climb where the race returns this year) and the Tour de France. The Dane and his compatriot Casper Pedersen form a strong power duo for Team DSM. Other punchy and resilient riders like Max Walscheid (Cofidis) and Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) can shred the bunch before they make the most of their pure speed in the final stretch. Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) is another versatile talent whose abilities already got him eight top-5 stage finishes in the Tour of Oman, with strong overall results (2nd in 2017, also in the top 5 in 2016 and 2019). Is it his year to move to the highest step of the podium?
Italian climber Fausto Masnada (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team) should be among Costa’s main rivals on the slopes of Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain, 5.7km at 10.5%), where French climber Elie Gesbert (Team Arkea-Samsic) already showed his worth in 2019 (5th in 2019, alongside Costa). German teenager Marco Brenner (Team DSM) is a special talent, and the iconic climb could also inspire him to show his budding abilities to the world.
The young Said Al Rahbi is not much older (21 years old), and he’ll also be determined to be at his best as the reigning Oman National Champion, crowned last Autumn in Qurayyat. He’s joined by his runner-up, Mohammed Al-Wahibi and bronze medalist Husam Al Rawahi in the 7-man Oman National Selection who will be competing in the race for the first time in its history. With such an exciting debut, there’s no doubt they’re ready for battle!
Ø World Champions Cavendish and Costa, as well as Stewart, headline the startlist of the 2022 Tour of Oman.
Ø Classics experts such as Kragh Andersen will aim to show their strong early-season legs while Jabal Al Akhdar (Green Mountain) will provide a major test for climbers like Masnada.
Ø Oman National Champion Al Rahbi leads the local selection to do battle against the international cycling elite heading to the Sultanate.
18 Teams: The Main Participants
Team BikeExchange-Jayco: Groves (Aus), Campbell (Nzl).
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux: Taaramäe (Est)
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team: Cavendish (Gbr), Masnada (Ita)
Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB: Menten (Bel).
B&B Hotels-KTM: Lietaer (Bel)
Cofidis: Walscheid (Ger)
Team Arkea-Samsic: Gesbert (Fra), Capiot (Bel)
Groupama-FDJ: Scotson (Aus).
Bardiani CSF Faizané: Zana (Ita).
Astana Qazaqstan Team Development: Henao (Col).
Team DSM: Kragh Andersen (Den), Pedersen (Den).
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team: Eg (Den).
Oman National Team: Al Rahbi (Omn).
Gazprom-Rusvelo: Canola (Ita).
Euskaltel-Euskadi: Angulo (Esp)
Burgos-BH: Bol (Ned), Raïm (Est).
United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: Costa (Por), Gaviria (Col).
Team Novo Nordisk: Planet (Fra).
Tour of the Basque Country 2022 Route
The route of the 61st Tour of the Basque Country has been announced. On day one, the riders have a short time trial in Hondarribia and the final stage goes the Arrate.
The race starts on April 4 with an opening time trial of only 7.5 kilometres, but quite difficult. There is a climb on the route which counts for the KOM. The first time differences can also be made here. Stage two goes from Leitza to Viana, 207.9 kilometres and the longest stage of the week, which is expected to finish with a sprint.
On stage three, between Laudio and Amurrio, there is more climbing. In the last part of the stage there is a local circuit, to be completed twice, which has two big climbs. The steep Opellora (1.3km at 13%) and the longer Ozeka (3.6km at 7.4%), should split the race. Although after the last climb of the Ozeka, there is more than 20 kilometres to the finish.
On stage four, the final ascent, Vivero (6km at 6.3%), is also at around 20 kilometres from the finish line in Zamudio. This could be an opportunity for an escape, but the GC riders will also have to be there. This is especially true the next day, when the finish is in Mallabia after 163.8 kilometres. The last kilometre of the fifth stage has gradients of up to 16% and it is certainly not easy.
On April 9th, is the Queen stage from Eibar to Arrate. Everything could change on this particularly difficult route, as we saw in last year’s edition, when Primož Roglič took over the leader’s jersey from Brandon McNulty at the last minute. The Slovenian made the difference early in the stage with the help of his Jumbo-Visma teammates, but waiting until the final climb is also possible. The ascent to Arrate cannot be underestimated; 4.5 kilometres at 8.8%.
Tour of the Basque Country 2022 Stages:
04/04 – Stage 1: Hondarribia-Hondarribia (7.5km, ITT)
05/04 – Stage 2: Leitza – Viana (207.9 km)
06/04 – Stage 3: Laudio – Amurrio (181.7 km)
07/04 – Stage 4: Vitoria-Gasteiz – Zamudio (185.6 km)
08/04 – Stage 5: Zamudio – Mallabia (163.8 km)
09/04 – Stage 6: Eibar – Arrate (136.7 km).
Repeat for Roglič in 2022?
The Art of Sprinting
Watch this fascinating insight into how our riders practice and hone their lead-out skills during our most recent training camp in Algarve, all overseen by Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director and coach Tom Steels.
‘Future Tour Winner’ Impresses on the Wheel of Dumoulin and Ten Dam
Laurens ten Dam and Tom Dumoulin are currently in Colombia, where they have been on some tough training runs. Earlier this week, the two Dutchmen were surprised by a very young cycling fan during a ride.
On Ten Dam’s Instagram, a video shows a 12-year-old Colombian rider with Dumoulin, Ten Dam and Rigoberto Urán and others. “I was feeling really good about myself following this group of champions. Then this kid turned up. Being 12 years old he followed our group for at least 15 km. Up down left right. He didn’t drop. The amount of cycling talent in Colombia must be insane.” Ten Dam added: “Future @letourdefrance winner in 12 years. I think I spotted him today!”
Video by Rigoberto Uran:
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