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Alpe D’Huez: Marco Pantani wint voor de tweede achtereenvolgende keer de etappe naar Alpe D’Huez. foto Cor Vos©1997tdfr

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

St. Valentine’s Day and we remember the passing of Marco Pantani 15 years ago – Top Story. The 2019 road season has moved to Colombia; video of the first stages with reports and results, plus previews of the Tour of Oman and the Tour de la Provence. In other cycling news: Kevin Pauwels retires, teams for the Schelderprijs, 2019 Paris-Roubaix route – but no U19 race, Ronde van Limburg on June 10th, Tour of the Alps news, Fabio Jakobsen extends contract, Lotto Soudal medical up-date and video of the Paul Sherwen Memorial Service in Manchester Cathedral.

TOP STORY: Pantani Day on PEZ
The 14th of February, St. Valentine’s Day and also the anniversary of the death of Marco Pantani – Fifteen years since his death or murder. Murder by drugs; either by choice or by force.

The diminutive Italian was the last of the ‘pure climber’ in the mold of Lucien Van Impe, Robert Millar and Lucho Herrera – The attacking climber who will risk all for the win in the mountains and have a chance of the overall in a Grand Tour. Nairo Quintana looked to be a rider of similar crowd pleasing ability, but that hope has disappeared.

Pantani has become one of those riders who used drugs, but has become an icon. Love him or hate him, he did throw caution to the wind and give a show on the road. The death of anyone is always a sad occasion, but that he is remembered fondly by so many is testament to his racing style and character.

There will be more remembrances of Marco Pantani today in PEZ.

La légende – Marco Pantani (French commentary):

Tour Colombia 2019
The EF Education First team took the Stage 1 team time trial in the Tour Colombia 2.1 on Tuesday. The American team with Colombian’s Rigoberto Urán and Daniel Felipe Martinez won in Medellín to put the two home riders at the top of the overall leader board. Sky finished 3rd, 2 seconds behind Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 2nd place, 8 seconds down on EF Education First.

First team down the start ramp of the Tour Colombia was the local Medellín team, including the 42-year old Óscar Sevilla, obviously they were also the first leaders on the 14 kilometer course with a time of 15:45. They held the ‘Hot Seat’ until WorldTour team Deceuninck – Quick-Step with Julian Alaphilippe and Bob Jungels crossed the line in 15:13, more than half a minute faster than the time of Medellín. Movistar did not come close to Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s time as Nairo Quintana and Richard Carapaz lost 31 seconds on the Belgian team.

Rigoberto Urán may have started with doubts about the Tour Colombia, but he turned out to be one of the engines of the American team. Thanks in part to the hard work of Rigo, the team recorded the fastest time of 15:05, eight seconds faster than Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

It turned out to be the winning time, as UAE Emirates (at 35 seconds), Astana (at 22 seconds) and Team Sky (at 10 seconds) were all slower. Chris Froome and Egan Bernal should not be unhappy as they managed to limit their losses to only 10 seconds.

Overall leader, Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First): “We’re so happy to have won, for me it makes me really happy because we’re racing in my home, and it’s what you hope for more than anything. Cycling is so big in Colombia and to win a team time trial here is so motivating for the week ahead.”

4th overall, Taylor Phinney (EF Education First): “He’s just super strong [Dani Martínez]. I told him to pull longer and less intense to keep it really regular. I think with the excitement of everyone we started super fast. Then we lost Nate and Alex after 4km and then I was sitting behind Dani, which is the most difficult position for me to sit, because he’s the smallest, most aerodynamic guy. So when he’s pulling I’m kinda pulling at the same time. So once I was in that position I recognized that I was the punching bag of the day and my main role was just survive within the group.”

13th overall at 10 seconds, Egan Bernal (Sky): “We are happy with the result. We have not lost much time. Because we are not the leaders, we do not have to take much responsibility to check the game. We took time at Astana and Movistar, so I really think we are in a good position. The feeling I had during the national championship is very different from the feeling now. It is going better and I hope to become even better during the coming days.”

27th overall at 44 seconds, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “We are waiting for the mountains. The feeling was good. I rode very well, just like Richard Carapaz and Winner Anacona. The other boys have also performed at their maximum. However, we have more of a team for the climbs. We therefore have to wait for the mountains. We will try to make up for the lost time, and make a show.”

Tour Colombia Stage 1 Result:
1. EF Education First in 15:05
2. Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:08
3. Sky at 0:10
4. Astana at 0:22
5. UAE Team Emirates at 0:35
6. Medellin at 0:40
7. Movistar at 0:44
8. EPM at 0:52
9. Coldeportes Bici Strongman at 0:53
10. Manzana Postobon at 0:54.

Tour Colombia Overall After Stage 1:
1. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First in 15:05
2. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First
3. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First
4. Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First
5. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep at 0:08
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Jonnathan Narvaez (Ecu) Sky at 0:10
10. Ivan Sosa (Col) Sky.

Stage 1 TTT:

Álvaro José Hodeg (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) won Stage 2 on Wednesday in La Ceja. The young Colombian was the fastest in the bunch sprint ahead of Estonian Martin Laas (Team Illuminate Continental) with Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates) in third. Favorite for the stage win, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), grew up in the area and knew the finish well, but was not feeling good and did not take part in the sprint.

Óscar Sevilla, Simon Pellaud, Luis Felipe Laverde, Jose Tito Hernandez, Enrique Chavez and Steven Cuesta made up the break of the day. Sevilla was the best placed rider on the overall in 23rd place at 40 seconds after the 6th place of the Medellín team in the stage 1 team time trial.

The lead of the six riders reached a maximum of 4 minutes, but when the peloton started to lower the gap to 55 seconds in the last 20 kilometers. Pellaud and Sevilla dropped the others, but a bunch sprint was on the cards.

The Pellaud/Sevilla tandem held off the peloton for a while, but in the last kilometers they were caught and the sprint trains started their work for the finish. Deceuninck – Quick-Step guided Álvaro José Hodeg to the final sprint and the Colombian did not disappoint to take his first win of the season, the fifth victory in 2019 for the Belgian team. Hodeg will be wearing the leader’s jersey on stage 3.

Stage winner and overall leader, Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “This win is of the entire team, they did an impressive job and I am really grateful for their work. We raced for the stage, as the GC wasn’t on our radar today. I focused on my sprint and I am happy of how things unfolded at the end of the day. This victory is the best way to celebrate my two-year contract extension with the team. Today’s stage was more difficult than we had expected. We rode full gas behind the breakaway with Iljo and Petr, and then pushed really hard on the last lap, where Bob did an incredible job to close the gap inside the final ten kilometers. Then Julian and Maxi brought me in a great position and all that I had to do was to finish it off with a well-timed sprint. I am happy and proud, it feels great to lead my home race in front of these amazing fans.”

3rd, Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates): “I was focused on my work of launching Gaviria, but he then told me he wasn’t feeling right to sprint for the win, so I had the possibility to try myself as the team’s sprint leader. I was well-positioned in the sprint, I had good legs, but the sprints aren’t always straight drags and I lost speed unfortunately.”

Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates): “I am upset I didn’t finish off the good work by the team riding at the front of the race. Near the finish, my body was not feeling how I expected it so at that point I preferred to leave Molano a chance. I’m sorry for that with the stage arriving at home and with the chance to have a good impression. There are still chances in this Tour Colombia, I hope that I will have better feelings and repay the fans for their support.”

Tour Colombia Stage 2 Result:
1. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:21:40
2. Martin Laas (Est) Team Illuminate Continental
3. Juan Sebastian Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates
4. Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy
5. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Luca Pacioni (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM
7. Imerio Cima (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane
8. Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
10. Jonnathan Narvaez (Ecu) Sky.

Tour Colombia Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:36:43
2. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First at 0:02
3. Daniel Martinez (Col) EF Education First
4. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First
5. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:10
6. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck- Quick-Step
7. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Jonnathan Narvaez (Ecu) Sky at 0:12
9. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
10. Ivan Sosa (Col) Sky.

Stage 2:

Kevin Pauwels Retires
Kevin Pauwels will stop his cyclo-cross career at the end of the season, the 34-year-old Belgian announced at the weekend. His last cross will be the Sluitingsprijs in Oostmalle. “There were not enough good performances to keep going on,” said Pauwels, putting it down to his back and his age.

Pauwels rode his last seasons for Marlux-Bingoal, the cross team of Jurgen Mettepenningen. This season he scored two victories, but competing with the big riders was no longer there. Pauwels won in Hasselt and also in Zonnebeke.

Before the season, Pauwels already had doubts about his career. “This may be my last winter”, he said in September. Because of his victories, the door opened for an extra year with the Marlux-Bingoal team.

Not being picked for the World Championships in Denmark caused frustration. “As far as the results are concerned, I was eligible for selection. But the national coach looks especially at age,” he reacted. Pauwels became world champion twice in his career: in 2002 with the juniors and in 2004 with the U23s. With the pros he won the bronze medal five times.

Pauwels said it was an important decision. “If I did not take it now, it would probably be next year. Because I can no longer deliver the performance as I want it, because of my back, also because of my age. At the start of the race I get less and less fast.”

“I can still make it difficult,” responds Pauwels. “In the training sessions, but also in the races. They are fun when things are going well, but not when you race around like I did yesterday. I still won in Hasselt and in Zonnebeke, there were not enough other good performances besides these two victories.”

“I do not know if I’ll get emotional,” looking ahead to his final race. “At the beginning of the season I already had in mind that this might be my last season. I try to make the best of it for another two weekends. For myself and for my fans, many still come to the cross, and also for the team.”

Kevin Pauwels 3rd Overijse 2016:

Greg van Avermaet: “Green Mountain is a Test of How Deep you can Go”
With eight participations out of a possible nine in the Tour de Oman, and a stage win and two day spell in the lead last year, Greg van Avermaet is one of the Tour of Oman’s most frequent participants. And this time round, after a blistering sprint victory already in the Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, the CCC Team leader is clearly ready to hit the ground running once again in the Tour of Oman.

Greg van Avermaet, you have been in every Tour of Oman bar one, in 2012, since it began in 2010. From a racer’s point of view, why is this event so appealing for you?
It’s a good preparation, a relaxing event, good weather with some nice stages, I think it’s good for a rider like me – except for the Green Mountain finish! It’s a nice way to build up for the season, I like the way many of the stages are prepared for punchy riders. Plus after each stage you can ride to the hotel and get in a few more kilometers.

So I can get extra train as well as race, there are at least three stages, sometimes four, which have the kind of terrain that suits me. So I get some results. Sometimes stage races only offer me one day at most where I can do something, but that’s not the case in Oman. I have more chances. And that’s why I keep on going back.

Green Mountain is a very tough mountain for you. How much can you use it to see how good your form will be on terrain that is more suited to you, like in the Classics in Belgium?
A lot of Classics riders use it like that. In my case, on a couple of editions I was working for a GC rider there, so I’d get him to the bottom of the climb, then I’d go hard up it for one or two kilometers anyway, and then take a couple of minutes to recover. Then I’d pick up the pace, just to do a kind of test inside the rest, to see how good you are and how deep you can go.

So Green Mountain operates as a testing ground after you’ve made the big efforts in the rolling stages?
For me this is the perfect place to do it, of course the weather is always super nice and they’ve created a bit more space too on the calendar between the Tour of Oman and my big first Classics goal, Het Nieuwsblad, so that gives me some more time to adapt to the cold weather when I go back in Belgium.

You’ve already had one great result this year, a stage win in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain. Does that lower the pressure for you to get a good result in the Tour of Oman or will you still be fighting as hard as ever?
For sure as a rider you try to win everywhere. But with a new team like CCC it’s even more important to try and get the wins so you can build up the team’s self-confidence. And the stage win I got in Valencia was against a strong field and on a very difficult day’s racing. So these kinds of results are very important to get early in the season. But let’s hope we try to get a stage win in every stage race, make a habit of it, and that’s the most important thing for me, to have certain days in races like this where I can be good.

So that is the goal in Oman, to get another stage victory like you did last year?
Yes, that would be ideal, to win a stage or at least to get a top three position in a few different days.

But in any case you must be very pleased with how the team is coming together this season, with wins in Spain, Australia and New Zealand, and next, hopefully in Oman!
Yes, for sure. It’s always hard, we have a completely new rider line-up so we have to see how it goes, but for now we are where we wanted to be and expected to be. It was a great moment, to see a guy like Patrick [Bevin] taking that World Tour win in Australia [in the Santos Tour Down Under] for us and hopefully that kind of success will give us all motivation on the team to keep on winning in the races to come.

Greg Van Avermaet at the 2018 Tour of Oman:

Van Avermaet to Finalize Classics Preparation at Tour of Oman
On the back of taking his first win of the season at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Greg Van Avermaet will fine tune his Classics preparation at the Tour of Oman this week from 16 – 21 February.

The Tour of Oman provides another opportunity for CCC Team’s newly-formed Classics roster to race together before opening weekend, Sports Director Valerio Piva said.

“Traditionally for us, the Tour of Oman is the final preparation race ahead of the start of the Classics season and this year is no different. We will be going there with a team ready, and motivated, to work for Greg Van Avermaet. He has done this race for the last six years in a row and as we have seen before, it is a good race with some stages that really suit him so, the main objective will be to race for a stage win with Greg. We don’t have anyone for the General Classification, as like always this will be decided on Green Mountain and we are not taking a climber with us this year. However, this means that, as well as supporting Greg, everyone will have a chance to jump in different moves,” Piva explained.

“The group we are going to Oman with is similar to the one we had at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana with only Nathan Van Hooydonck and Kamil Gradek coming in. We saw the team working well for Greg in Spain and I was really happy with what I saw there. The guys are happy to be racing together, which is important, and I think overall we are in a good place as we start to finalize everything before the Classics. We have already seen that Greg is in top shape and the others looked good too. Everyone is motivated to help Greg and he trusts them so that gives me confidence and it’s what we like to see going into the Classics.”

Greg Van Avermaet, who won stage three at the 2018 edition, is hoping to continue his early-season success in Oman.

“I always enjoy racing in Oman and I think it’s a really good race for me at this point in the season with nice weather and conditions, and mostly short stages. I am really happy with my form and how the team worked together in Valencia so it will be good to race again together this week,” Van Avermaet said.

“It is always nice to have a win early in the season and I definitely hope to add another one in Oman. There are a few stages that suit me so that is definitely the main goal in Oman, but it’s also a good opportunity to prepare for the Classics. At this time of the year, it’s important to have racing kilometers in the legs after a long off season so the Tour of Oman is the perfect race for that.”

Tour of Oman (16-21 February)
Rider roster:

Kamil Gradek (POL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Gijs Van Hoecke (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Fabio Baldato (ITA).

Guillaume Van Keirsbulck:

Bahrain-Merida for the Tour of Oman
The tenth edition of Tour of Oman will be running from Saturday 16th to Thursday 21th. The race will be made up of 6 stages and will cover a total distance of 906 kilometers.

The route of the 2019 edition, as usual, offers something for sprinters, punchers and climbers. The queen stage – Wednesday 20th – will bring the peloton on the Green Mountain with a 5.7km climb at a gradient of 10.5%.

“The Tour of Oman,” explains SD Alberto Volpi, “is not an easy race, starting with the first stage that runs along the coast with the threat of the wind to end with the climb of the Green Mountain. Our Sonny Colbrelli will have more than one occasion to try to win a stage, while Domenico Pozzovivo will aim for the GC.”

Colbrelli just finished the Vuelta a la Comunidad Valenciana last Sunday: “It has been a good experience for me; the Spanish race allowed me to get more pace and I’m happy with my condition. In Oman, in addition to the two stages for pure sprinters, there are two stages with a slight uphill finish where I can make a result.”

Domenico Pozzovivo has spent the last two weeks training on the Canary Islands: “The Tour of Oman is a race that I have always liked and where I entered the Top Ten several times, the last one in 2016. After a good training period, I’m ready to give my best hoping to go higher as possible in the overall.”

TBM’s line-up for Tour of Oman:
Antonio Nibali, Sonny Colbrelli, Domenico Pozzovivo, Andrea Garosio, Domen Novak, Yukiya Arashiro and Kristijan Koren.

The UAE Team Emirates heads to the Tour of Oman
Kristoff and Rui Costa tops the roster in the Middle East.

The UAE Team Emirates’s season continues in the Middle East with its participation in the Tour of Oman. The 2.1 stage race runs February 16 to 21.

Simone Pedrazzini (Swi) will guide the following seven riders over the six stages:
– Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor)
– Rui Costa (Por)
– Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
– Marco Marcato (Ita)
– Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor)
– Yousif Mirza (UAE)
– Jan Polanc (Slo)

Kristoff will search for a stage win, which he has been able to achieve every time he has participated in Oman in the last five years.

“I took eight wins in the Tour of Oman, I have a good relationship with this race,” the Norwegian sprinter explained. “I’m going to try to win another stage. In the Volta Valenciana I was close. My sensations are better and better and I’m very motivated.”

Tour de La Provence: Pinot and Gilbert Back in Business
The fourth edition of the Tour de La Provence (February 14-17) will kick off with an 8.9km individual time trial at Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, marking the beginning of the 2019 season for several champions, as nine WorldTour teams are amongst the 22 teams featured on the starting sheet.

13th February, 2018 – Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, France: Topping the list of the favorites are last year’s Tour of Lombardy winner Thibaut Pinot of Groupama-FDJ and Belgian legend Philippe Gilbert of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, embarking on his 17th season.

“I’m delighted to have the Tour de La Provence as my first race of the year,” Pinot declared. “It’s my first time taking part in this event. I’m motivated. The route is ideal to resume racing with a time trial and the varied profiles will enable different types of riders to express themselves.”

Stage 3 will finish on the car racing circuit of Le Castellet that hosted the Formula 1 French Grand Prix from 1970 to 1990, and again since last year. Reigning world champion for individual pursuit Filippo Ganna will make his debut for Team Sky with high chances of winning the inaugural time trial.

Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Gorka Izagirre (Astana Pro Team), Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Nicolas Roche (Team Sunweb), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie), Pierre Rolland (Vital Concept-B&B Hôtels), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Ramunas Navardauskas of local outfit Delko-Marseille-Provence are among the big names aiming to succeed Thomas Voeckler, Rohan Dennis and Alexandre Geniez on the record books of the event held in the southern France.

The stages:
Thursday 14 February: ITT at Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer, 8.9km
Friday 15 February: Istres to La Ciotat, 195.6km
Saturday 16 February: Aubagne to Circuit du Castellet, 185.8km
Sunday 17 February: Avignon to Aix-en-Provence, 173.3km.

Tour de La Provence 2019 Teaser:

AG2R-La Mondiale for Oman
Since the first Tour of Oman in 2010, the AG2R LA MONDIALE team has participated in the race five times. Romain Bardet took 2nd place in 2016.

Silvan Dillier: “I just finished the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and I am pretty satisfied with how I am feeling. I was able to have some fun especially on the 4th stage when I was in the breakaway. And really, when you look closely at the circumstances near the end of the stage with that headwind, I wasn’t missing that much. These races early in the year are so important in order to prepare for the classics. We can race in good weather, and also have the freedom to put in some hard efforts at the front of the race. In Oman, the goal will mainly be to have fun again. The pressure isn’t so great, unlike the UCI WorldTour races, so it gives you the chance to try more things. And if I have the chance again to take a break all the way to the end, I certainly won’t refuse that.”

Return to racing for Mathias Frank: The Swiss rider Mathias Frank will kick off his season at the Tour of Oman. In 2017, he took 7th in the general classification.

Sunweb for Tour de la Provence – Feb 14-17
Matt Winston – Team Sunweb coach: “The four-day race sees an opening 8.9 kilometer time trial on the south coast of France where we expect that the wind will play a big part. Following the opening test, the three road stages are all tough days with between 2400-2600 meters of climbing per day. The team will focus on positioning our young gun Michael ready for the final part of the stages, especially stage two and three. There is a small potential for a sprint on stage four depending on how the peloton race the stage, in which case the team will look to deliver Max [Walscheid] to the finish. Nicholas [Roche] will make his debut as road captain and it will also be the first race for Asjbørn [Kragh Andersen] and myself for Team Sunweb.”

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Lennard Kämna (GER), Nicholas Roche (IRE), Michael Storer (AUS), Max Walscheid (GER).

Max Walscheid in the TDU’19:

AG2R-La Mondiale for Provence 2019
The AG2R-La Mondiale team has won at the Tour de la Provence three times. In 2017, Alexandre Geniez won the second stage (Miramas – La Ciotat). And then in 2018, he won the prologue at Castellet before taking the overall classification.

Tony Gallopin: “Since I’ll be racing the Giro d’Italia, I have modified my approach to the season. The Tour de la Provence will be my first race and is a perfect place to start the season again. Four days of racing over hilly courses and looking for good weather as well as a time trial in the mix will help me regain the feeling of competition. Of course, after a long break, we always ask ourselves how is the form, but I am not worried. Last year I came with six days of racing in the legs and still placed second overall. And this past winter I had no problems. Before heading to the Giro, I will go to UCI WorldTour races like the UAE Tour (Feb 24-Mar 3), Paris-Nice (Mar 10-17), and the Tour of Catalonia (Mar 25-31) before taking part in the Tour of Flanders (Apr 7).”

Tour de la Provence New Mondrian Leader’s Jersey
The Tour de La Provence has chosen a special leader’s jersey, with white, yellow, blue and red sections similar to designs of Piet Mondrian. It is a tribute to Bernard Tapie, the former team manager of La Vie Claire and now co-organizer in La Provence.

La Vie Claire raced in the eighties in a similar jersey with a Mondrian design. Bernard Hinault (1985) and Greg LeMond (1986) won the Tour de France in the jersey of the Tapie team. Today, Tapie is a major shareholder in the La Provence newspaper, the biggest sponsor of the stage race in the Marseille region.

“We wanted a nice piece of cycling history to return,” said the new race director Pierre-Maurice Courtade. His companion is race director Marion Rousse, former cyclist and nowadays analyst for French television. “It is a tribute to Bernard Tapie, who greatly helps the organization of the Tour de La Provence,” she adds.

The Tour de La Provence (UCI 2.1) runs from Thursday till Sunday.

The new jersey:

CCC Team Set for Back to Back Spanish Races
CCC Team will return to the start line in Spain this weekend with two competitive rider rosters lining up at Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia on Friday and Saturday (15-16 February) and Clásica de Almería on Sunday (17 February).

Sports Director Gabriele Missaglia said CCC Team is looking to continue its early-season success at the back to back Spanish races.

“CCC Team will be well-represented at both races this weekend. For all of the riders, with the exception of Jakub Mareczko, this will be the first time they race this year and for that reason, we won’t have a clear team leader for Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia. Instead, we will take each day as it comes and use the race as an important test to see where the riders’ form is ahead of Clásica de Almería, which we will go to with Mareczko as our leader for the likely bunch sprint. However, I am confident in the ability of the riders we have racing in Murcia and I think we can look to make the most out of any opportunities that come our way. Then, with the team working for Mareczko, we will have a really good chance to make a nice result in Almería,” Missaglia explained.

Jakub Mareczko is looking forward to making his European debut for CCC Team after starting his season in Australia.

“I’m feeling in good shape after the Australian season and I was happy to pick up a third place at my first UCI WorldTour race of the year. Clásica de Almería is another opportunity for me to go for the sprint. It’s still early in the season so there is more work to do in order to be where I want to be but I think my form is good. I am really happy that the team is giving me the opportunity to have a go here and I will definitely give 100% to try and make a good result,” Mareczko said.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (15 – 16 February)
Rider roster:

Will Barta (USA), Paweł Bernas (POL), Simon Geschke (GER), Jonas Koch (GER), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Laurens ten Dam (NED), Riccardo Zoidl (AUT).
Sports Director: Gabriele Missaglia (ITA).

Clásica de Almería (17 February)
Rider roster:

Paweł Bernas (POL), Josef Černý (CZE), Simon Geschke (GER), Jonas Koch (GER), Jakub Mareczko (ITA), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Laurens ten Dam (NED).
Sports Director: Gabriele Missaglia (ITA).

Laurens ten Dam will race in Murcia:

No Jumbo-Visma in the Schelderprijs
The Jumbo-Visma team is the big absentee on the starting list of the 2019 Scheldeprijs. The Dutch team has always participated in the last few years, but is missing this year. “There is no special reason”, the team told WielerFlits about their absence.

In 2018 Dylan Groenewegen was the big favorite for the Scheldeprijs, but he was disqualified with a few others for passing a closed railway crossing. In the sprint finish in Schoten, Fabio Jakobsen was the fastest.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Jakobsen’s team, will of course line-up with ten WorldTour teams at the start in the Dutch city of Terneuzen, located on the southern shore of the Western Scheldt estuary. The organization has also invited twelve ProContinental teams for the 107th edition of the Scheldeprijs.

2019 Scheldeprijs Teams

BORA-hansgrohe (Ger)
Deceuninck – Quick Step (Bel)
Dimension Data (SAF)
EF Education First (US)
Katusha-Alpecin (Swi)
Lotto Soudal (Bel)
Team Sky (GB)
Team Sunweb (Ned)
Trek-Segafredo (US)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)

Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec (Ita)
Arkéa-Samsic (Fra)
Cofidis (Fra)
Corendon-Circus (Bel)
Direct Energy (Fra)
Israel Cycling Academy (Isr)
Riwal Readynez (Den)
Roompot-Charles (Ned)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (Bel)
Vital Concept-B & B Hotels (Fra)
Wallonie Bruxelles (Bel)
Wanty-Gobert (Bel).

Schelderprijs 2018:

U19 Paris-Roubaix Canceled?
It does not look good for the 2019 edition of the junior Paris-Roubaix Classic. Organizer John Malaise is giving himself till the end of this month to close a budget of 10,000 euros. If not, the race will be canceled.

The prestigious U19 cobbled Classic – which has also been part of the Nations Cup since 2008 – has never had problems getting the budget, but there is a problem this year. “We need a budget of €48,000,” Malaise told La Voix du Nord. “But this year we are €10,000 short. I will continue to fill that gap until the end of this month.”

The junior event finishes on the same day as the professional Paris-Roubaix, with the same finalé and finishes on the Roubaix track, one and a half hours before the pros. The U19 race was founded in 2003 and has a lot of big names on the honors list, including Geraint Thomas, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Jasper Stuyven, Mads Pedersen and Tom Pidcock. Also Peter Sagan and Arnaud Démare were once on stage.

There is also an agreement with ASO, organizer of the professional competition, to use the name Paris-Roubaix, but Malaise does not count on financial support from ASO. “I hope that I can still meet the desired budget,” Malaise concludes. “I do what I can, but it is not easy. A fair one, I do not have a good eye for it at the moment. If it fails, the race will be canceled.”

Lewis Askey wins the 2018 Junior Paris-Roubaix:

2019 Ronde van Limburg on June 10th
The Tour of Limburg (UCI 1.1) will continue this year, reports Het Belang van Limburg. The organization of the race in the Belgian province of Limburg has found a place on the UCI calendar: Monday, June 10, Whit Monday.

Last year, all-rounder Mathieu van der Poel won the Belgian Tour of Limburg in a bunch sprint, defeating Nacer Bouhanni after 200 kilometers around Tongeren. It was the second victory for the reigning Dutch road champion on the road, his first professional road victory was in 2014.

The 2019 edition will be the 100th edition of Ronde van Limburg. In 1919 Henri Moerenhout was the first winner. There is also a Tour of Limburg in the Netherlands – Different race.

Paris-Roubaix 2019: La Trouée Awaits
Cobble-gobblers are familiar with the whirring sound of their wheels on the cobblestones of Roubaix, which start to rattle their bicycles about 100km into the race, right after the village of Troisvilles. Eagle-eyed observers will realize that the first cobbled sector is a bit shorter this time round (0.9km versus 2.2km in 2018). Although the peloton will be focused on this sequence, and it may have even started the war of attrition by this time, the second sector (no. 28, from Briastre to Viesly) will provide an opportunity for the riders to honor the memory of Michael Goolaert as they ride past the stele marking the location where he suffered a cardiac arrest last year. The effort will then enter the Cambrésis region, heading due east so that the peloton tackles the Quiévy (no. 26), Saint-Python (no. 25) and Vertain (no. 24) in the opposite direction compared to 2018. The Vertain sector is back in the race for the first time since 2017.

From the moment the riders enter the Valenciennes area (sector no. 23), the course of the Queen of Classics remains unchanged all the way to Roubaix Velodrome. However, the official map is not exactly the same. More accurate measurements taken during reconnoitering shortened the Trouée d’Arenberg (no. 19) from 2,400 to 2,300 meters… without touching a single cobblestone! The first five-star sector, where the fight between the pretenders to the crown enters a decisive phase, remains as tough as ever. Anyone who is not in the lead group at the end of the sector can wave goodbye to victory in Roubaix. Later on, the Mons-en-Pévèle (no. 11) and Carrefour de l’Arbre (no. 4) five-star sectors will set the scene for further attacks and dramatic twists.

Key points:
On 14 April, the riders of the 117th edition of Paris–Roubaix will roll out of Compiègne and tackle a course of the same length (257km) and with the same amount of cobblestones (54.5km) as last year’s.

Ø A few adjustments have been made to the early sectors, starting in Troisvilles (96.5km), while the Trouée d’Arenberg has been shortened by 100 meters… without touching a single cobblestone!

Paris-Roubaix Challenge – Saturday, April, 13th
24 hours before the elite race, some 7,000 amateur riders will measure themselves on this legendary Spring classic and its fabled cobblestone sectors. Three distances are on offer to cyclists, in order to accommodate all the preparation levels: 70, 145 and 172 kms. Every rider will find an appropriate legend.

Information and registration on www.parisroubaixchallenge.com and timeto.com.

Paris-Roubaix Challenge in figures:
9th edition of Paris-Roubaix Challenge
· 7,000 participants
· 3 routes of 70 km, 145 km and 172 km
· 67 nationalities at the start

Melinda Highlights the Champions at the Tour of the Alps
Also in 2019, the Italian brand confirms its golden sponsorship on the overall winner’s jersey. A stage in Val di Non celebrates a solid relationship in cycling.

2019 Tour of the Alps welcomes the event’s “golden sponsor” confirmation by Melinda. Thrilling stage expected in Val di Non (fourth stage, on April 25th, from Baselga di Pinè to Cles), main fruit production land, especially apples, of the Italian Consortium.

2018 Tour of the Alps’ podium: Thibaut Pinot wears the overall winner’s jersey characterized by Melinda’s logo

Also this year, Melinda logo will be on the Fuchsia jersey worn by the overall ranking leader of the Tour of the Alps, scheduled from April, 22nd to 26th. Melinda has been supporting cycling from a very long time. First, as main sponsor of Trofeo Melinda and Giro del Trentino and, from 2017, of the Tour of the Alps, the Euroregional pro’ stage race that draw the international audience attention for its spectacular competition and the beauty of the host locations.

“Cycling has become part of us and of our company philosophy”Michele Odorizzi, the new appointed President of the Melinda Consortium, explained – “and bike also has a tight bound with having a healthy lifestyle, thus with good eating habits where our apples play an important role. In recent years, the Tour of the Alps event has been recording a remarkable increase inheriting the solid tradition of Giro del Trentino. We are even happier for this partnership as we will host a stage in Val di Non: the finish in Cles – during the Italian festive day on April, 25th – is expected to be a great feast for everybody.”

“The path that we have been walking side by side with Melinda is based on common passion and on tradition” – President of GS Alto Garda Giacomo Santini argued. “We are proud that also in 2019 the partnership is confirmed and we are sure that this is the perfect successful event which will further strengthen its brand awareness in Italy and all around the world.”

Melinda is an organization of producers whose vital structure is made up of member farmers, namely of around 4.000 families of fruit-farmers who live and grow apple trees in the Noce Valleys (Val di Non and Val di Sole). Every year, the members deliver their harvest to the Cooperative, one of the 16 that make up the Melinda Consortium, to which they delegate organization and management of all procedures downstream of harvest. In 2018, Melinda achieved record breaking figures: out of 500 thousand tons of apples produced in Trentino, 440 thousand have the Consortium logo on it. Apples turnover reached 119 million, while cherries and wild berries reached over 7 million.

To further confirm the link between Melinda and cycling, a partnership with Italian champion Letizia Paternoster has been recently achieved. She was born in Val di Non and she has now become the “ambassador” of the most appreciated apples in Italy.

Alps teaser:

Fabio Jakobsen Extends with Deceuninck – Quick-Step
The most successful neo-pro of 2018 has inked a new deal with the Team World Ranking leaders.

After announcing himself on the U23 scene with a plethora of wins, the most important of which came at the National Championships and the Tour de l’Avenir, Fabio Jakobsen hit the ground running in his first pro year, netting seven victories in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey: Nokere Koerse, Scheldeprijs, and stages at the Tour des Fjords, BinckBank Tour, Tour of Slovakia and Tour of Guangxi, at the latter putting the finishing touch to the team’s outstanding season by claiming our 73rd UCI win of the year.

These impressive results have brought Fabio a contract extension, which will see him sport the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey for an extra two years. Jakobsen is yet to make his debut this season, which will come next week, at the five-day Volta ao Algarve. From there, he will travel to Belgium for the 71st Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, before lining out for Paris-Nice, his first World Tour outing of the year.

“I am very excited to continue with the team until at least 2021. Deceuninck – Quick-Step is the team to be in, as I can learn so much and make important progress here. In the future, I want to be one of the best sprinters in the world and win big races, and Deceuninck – Quick-Step is the squad who can help me reach all these goals. I’m living the dream with the best team in the world and I’m grateful for the trust and the support I continuously receive”, said the 22-year-old Dutchman.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere explained why extending Fabio’s contract for two more years came as an easy decision: “To say that we were impressed with Fabio’s first year with us would be an understatement. To beat some of the peloton’s fastest and experienced sprinters shows that you possess not just the skills and the talent, but also the confidence and ability to take the right decision at the right time. He’s got a bright future ahead of him and we’re happy he decided to continue building it as part of our team.”

Fabio Jakobsen:

Lotto Soudal Medical Up-Date
For some Lotto Soudal riders, the season did not start the way they would have wanted it to. Jelle Wallays crashed hard in the Vuelta a San Juan, Rasmus Iversen broke his collarbone during the Challenge Mallorca and Tim Wellens was not able to start the Etoile de Bessèges due to illness. Servaas Bingé – team doctor of Lotto Soudal – gives a medical update.

Servaas Bingé: “Jelle Wallays had some consultations with different specialists. Several dental interventions are still needed but in the meantime, he is riding gently on the rollers again. At the moment, it is too early to evaluate when exactly Jelle will be able to resume racing. But he is very motivated to return as quickly as possible.”

“Rasmus Iversen – who broke his collarbone during the Challenge Mallorca – had a successful surgery and was handed some specific exercises by the team to do at home. I expect that he will get back to training shortly. Only when he has done some outdoor training sessions, we can evaluate when he will return to racing.”

“Tiesj Benoot – who hurt his wrist after a crash in San Juan – had the necessary examinations in Argentina which showed that it is not too bad. Tiesj is currently – together with Jens Keukeleire – at an altitude training camp in the Sierra Nevada where he is able to follow the planned training scheme.”

“Caleb Ewan had his wisdom teeth removed after the races in Australia. It is a rather unpleasant surgery and that is why we decided that it would take place as soon as possible. That way, he can still follow his predetermined racing scheme. Caleb is now back to training at the same intensity levels he would have been at without that surgery.”

“Tim Wellens has fully recovered from the viral infection and has resumed training. Also Harm Vanhoucke – who was forced to abandon the Trofeo Andratx-Lloseta due to an infection – is already training well again.”

Caleb Ewan wins in the TDU:

Paul Sherwen Memorial Service, Manchester Cathedral

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