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EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

The Grand Tours are behind us for another year, but there is still lots of cycling news to catch up with: World champion, Alejandro Valverde talks of his depression – Top Story. Lots of racing as we build up to the World championships: Tour of Slovakia, Textielprijs Vichte, Giro della Toscana and the Grand Prix de Wallonie. News from Il Giro di Lombardia, more rider contracts, Steve Cummings out of hospital, EF Education First at la Vuelta, Award for Dimension Data and to finish, a Vuelta video by UAE Team Emirates. Big EUROTRASH Thursday.

TOP STORY: Alejandro Valverde suffered depression after suspension
After his doping suspension, Alejandro Valverde suffered from depression for some time, as the World champion reveals in the documentary “A year as a rainbow,” which was shown on Spanish television. The Movistar rider suffered from anxiety attacks, among other things. “All the tension suddenly came out,” said a particularly candid Valverde.

Valverde was suspended for two years in 2010 because of his involvement with ‘Operación Puerto’, the Spanish doping case involving the controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Valverde continued to win almost immediately after his suspension, but a few months after his return, Valverde was completely lost.

It all started in March 2012, just after a fairly successful Paris-Nice. Valverde was 3rd in the final overall classification, but a few days later he suddenly suffered from dizziness, tingling and panic attacks, both on his bike and in daily life. “I’ve never said this before,” said Valverde.

“People see top athletes as stars, but we are people too. A star status brings extra pressure. It is therefore logical that you get a rebound at a certain moment.” For example, during the Amstel Gold Race of 2012, he was constantly in the back of the peloton. “I was scared to get dizzy at every moment.”

Valverde finally made a drastic decision: The Spaniard went to a psychiatrist, who found a slight form of depression. “The body has a huge memory and stores everything. I was chased for years (refers to the investigations into his involvement in the Dr. Fuentes case), which eventually led to a suspension. It suddenly came out.”

“I didn’t enjoy cycling anymore after the World championships” Valverde, however, overcame his depression and continued to win. Since 2012 he has won several stage races, classics and last year he finally became world champion in Innsbruck, Austria. “Because of this I suddenly stopped being hungry. After winning the World championships I had achieved everything. For a long time I no longer had fun on the bike.”

“I only felt comfortable during training rides with friends,” said Valverde, who has now found renewed motivation. “Talking about my depression was a kind of liberation. I really wanted to talk about it. Now I am less bothered by my status as a World champion”, concludes the number two of the past Vuelta.

TV trailer:

Tour of Slovakia 2019
After a successful Vuelta campaign, UAE Team Emirates have continued their winning ways in Slovakia. Alexander Kristoff sprinted home for the victory on the opening Stage 1 of the Tour de Slovakia (138.2 kilometres – start and finish in Bardejov), ahead of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step duo of Michael Mørkøv and Elia Viviani.

The bunch controlled the escape of six men who had taken an early lead, not allowing them more than 2 minutes. With 10km to go it all came back together, with the sprinters’ teams rounding their troops together for the final sprint, which finished on a cobbled uphill rise, which suited the Norwegian rider perfectly and saw him seize his 7th success of the season, the 27th for UAE Team Emirates.

Stage winner and overall leader, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “I managed to get on Viviani’s wheel just before entering the cobbled section. Deceuninck – Quick-Step had three men to lead the group, so I started from the fourth position, trying to come around. I immediately had a good kick and I passed them all, and held to the finish.”

Tour of Slovakia Stage 1a Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates in 3:21:48
2. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
4. Erik Baška (Slo) Bora-Hansgrohe
5. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Emils Liepinš (Lat) Wallonie-Bruxelles
8. Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk at 0:04
9. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles
10. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:08.

Tour of Slovakia Overall After Stage 1a:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates in 3:21:42
2. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:02
3. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:04
4. Erik Baška (Slo) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:06
5. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Emils Liepinš (Lat) Wallonie-Bruxelles
8. Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk at 0:10
9. Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles
10. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:14.

Slovakia’19 stage 1a podium:

In the afternoon, there was an individual time trial, Stage 1b, of 7.4 kilometres, also held in Bardejov. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) won the stage and took the overall lead. Stage 1 winner, Kristoff who fell on a bend, though the Norwegian would hold on to the points jersey with the GC leadership going to Kung.

Stefan Küng won the afternoon stage, the Swiss clocked the fastest time in the individual time trial. Initially, Yves Lampaert was named the new leader, but after the time trial, the jury corrected the result of the morning stage, meaning Küng was the overall leader.

Tour of Slovakia Stage 1a Result:
1. Stefan Kung (Sui) Groupama-FDJ in 9:03
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:03
3. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:08
4. Kamil Gradek (Pol) CCC at 0:10
5. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:12
6. Tom Bohli (Sui) UAE Team Emirates
7. Jan Bárta (Cze) Elkov – Author Cycling Team at 0:15
8. Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC at 0:17
9. Erik Baška (Slo) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:23
10. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ.

Tour of Slovakia Overall After Stage 1b:
1. Stefan Kung (Sui) Groupama-FDJ in 3:30:52
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:03
3. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:08
4. Kamil Gradek (Pol) CCC at 0:10
5. Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:12
6. Tom Bohli (Sui) UAE Team Emirates
7. Jan Bárta (Cze) Elkov-Author Cycling Team at 0:15
8. Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC at 0:17
9. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:21
10. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:22.

Slovakia’19 stage 1b podium, no not Lampaert:

Textielprijs Vichte 2019
Jannik Steimle needed just three races to hit the ground running and show his potential in the Deceuninck – Quick-Step jersey. After helping the team at Izegem Koers and Brussels Cycling Classic, the 23-year-old seized the opportunity as soon it arose, proving that he has what it takes to be a member of the Wolfpack.

Textielprijs Vichte (174 kilometres), won by Deceuninck – Quick-Step at the last three editions, got off in typical fashion, with a large group trying to escape the peloton’s clutches early in the race and finally managing to do that after 20 kilometres and several skirmishes. Our squad was represented in that move by Jannik Steimle, who not only contributed to the pace-setting, but also tried to shape the race, launching several attacks which ended up reducing the group to a handful of riders.

Despite entering the closing 15 kilometres with their margin eroded from three to one minute, the attackers continued to ride flat out and held off the bunch, fighting for victory in the small Flemish town. One of the most active men in the race, Jannik attacked with two kilometres to go, despite possessing a strong finishing kick, and after being reeled in by his companions, he surprised them by starting the sprint from the distance and going all the way to the line.

A comfortable and convincing win for Jannik, his first for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, was the cherry on top of a day that will easily go down as one of the best and memorable in his life, which saw him become the first German victorious in Textielprijs Vichte just a few hours after inking a pro contract with the Wolfpack.

Race winner, Jannik Steimle (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Just being in this jersey motivates you to give your all and go for the best possible result! Today I wanted to win, so I attacked on the first lap, and then on the second, when twenty of us rode clear. Inside the last two laps, I went again wanting to make a selection in the breakaway, followed by another move two kilometres from the finish, when I tried to go solo, but the others responded. I opened my sprint from far out, with still 300 meters to go, and despite the distance, I maintained the power and claimed this beautiful win. To be quite frank, all that has happened today is pretty unbelievable.”

Textielprijs Vichte Result:
1. Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 3:45:25
2. Samuel Leroux (Fra) Roubaix-Lille Metropole
3. Arvid De Kleijn (Ned) Metec-TKH Continental CT
4. Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) UNO-X Norwegian Dev. Team
5. Arne Peters (Ned) AR en TV De Adelaar
6. Holstad Ludvik (Nor) Joker Fuel of Norway
7. Gordon De Winter (Bel) Wielerpromotie Zuid-West at 0:15
8. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex at 0:19
9. Gianni Marchand (Bel) Cibel at 0:33
10. Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Alecto Cyclingteam.

Textielprijs Vichte podium:

Giro della Toscana – Memorial Alfredo Martini 2019
Giovanni Visconti won the Giro della Toscana. In Pontedera he was ahead of Tour winner Egan Bernal and Nikolay Cherkasov, with whom he had escaped in the final lap.

On Wednesday the Giro della Toscana was conveniently held in the Italian region of Tuscany. They started from Pontedera, before returning to the industrial city after a lap of almost 40 kilometres. After that, the one-day race would only really start with three laps of 55 kilometres, with the Monte Serra as the main obstacle. Gianni Moscon managed to win here last year, but this time the Italian was not present.

Five riders escaped early in the race. Astana man Zhandos Bizhigitov joined forces with Alexis Guerin, Simon Pellaud, Filippo Zana and Edoardo Zardini, and they managed to take a lead on the peloton of 5:30. Team Ineos, which had the Tour winner Egan Bernal at the start, controlled for a long time and in the second half of the race the lead started to decline. At the start of the final lap it was only 2:12.

Tour winner Bernal attacked
Eventually the escape was caught in the last 30 kilometres. Egan Bernal attacked and only Nikolay Cherkasov could follow. Together they crossed the top of the Monte Serra on the third and last time, after which Giovanni Visconti and Pierpaolo Ficara managed to cross. These four riders started the last 25 kilometres with a 30 second lead.

Behind; the chase was in difficulty, allowing the four leaders to extend their lead to 55 seconds in the final ten kilometres, it was clear that the winner would come from the lead group. Ficara jumped under the red rag, but the Italian was caught and paid for his efforts immediately. Bernal started the sprint from far out, but Visconti was not surprised and took the win.

Giro della Toscana – Memorial Alfredo Martini Result:
1. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM in 5:09:35
2. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos
3. Nikolay Cherkasov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo
4. Pierpaolo Ficara (Ita) Italy National Team at 0:13
5. Davide Gabburo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM at 0:51
6. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos at 0:53
7. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:58
8. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Astana
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic
10. Ivan Rovny (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo.


Grand Prix de Wallonie 2019
Krists Neilands won the GP de Wallonie on Wednesday. At the foot of the final climb to the Citadel of Namur, Neilands had a small lead over his pursuers, but managed to hold off all the strong men. Last year’s winner of the GP de Wallonie, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) was second. The Belgian was told this week that he was not among the last three names of the Belgian World championships team.

The GP Wallonie started in Blegny and finished after 210 kilometres on the difficult Citadel of Namur. The course would climb the Côte d’Ermeton, the Côte de Lustin and the Tienne aux Pierres in the final.

Five early escapees
Nico Denz, Alexander Evans and Tom Wirtgen were the first riders to succeed in taking a gap and they were soon joined by Baptiste Planckaert and Julien Van den Brande. For a long time their lead fluctuated between 2 and 3 minutes, but at the half-way point, a ‘call of nature’ for the peloton ensured that the five took more time.

Trek-Segafredo and Lotto Soudal hit the front of the peloton in the second half of the race and started to bring back the leading group. Their lead soon diminished and in the last 15 kilometres Denz and Planckaert were the last to be caught. Laurens Huys and Sylvain Moniquet counter-attacked and favourites such as Jasper De Buyst and Jasper Stuyven moved forward. Huys and Moniquet were quickly taken back.

Krists Neilands, who will be riding the World championships for Latvia, didn’t think it was going fast enough and attacked in the last 10 kilometres. Neilands was riding well, but he still had the steep climb of the Citadel waiting for him. With a small margin he started the final ascent, while behind him the chase started. The Israel Cycling Academy rider refused to give in.

Neilands holds out
Adam de Vos attacked behind, but the Canadian Rally-UHC rider couldn’t get away. Despite the efforts of the pursuers, Neilands held out. Jasper Stuyven took second place, Jasper De Buyst was third.

Race winner, Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy): “It’s really great to win. This is good for motivation. The season is almost over and I started thinking about the late season. But to win now is a great way to go into the winter. I didn’t feel too well. After all, I only came from Canada yesterday (WorldTour races in Québec and Montréal) and that gave me jet lag. I only followed and turned on 9 kilometres from the finish. I already raced the race last year, so I knew the final climb. I was actually certain that the other men would return. It is certainly one of my most beautiful victories. My last win in Belgium (Dwars door het Hageland 2018) was in much the same way. This certainly reminds me of that victory.”

Grand Prix de Wallonie Result:
1. Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy in 4:56:07
2. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:02
3. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Total Direct Energie
5. Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Total Direct Energie at 0:04
6. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
7. Arjen Livyns (Bel) Roompot-Charles
8. Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Gobert
9. Tony Gallopin (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert.


Il Lombardia 2019, In Memory of Gimondi
The Monument Classic that closes the cycling season will be dedicated to the recently deceased great champion, Felice Gimondi. The race will start from Bergamo and finish in Como after 243km. Compared to the last edition, won by the French rider Thibaut Pinot, the San Fermo della Battaglia returns in the route’s finale, to be climbed as well as the Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo, Sormano and Civiglio. A commemorative jersey to celebrate Gimondi will be presented to the race winner. The Gran Fondo Il Lombardia will follow on the next day, Sunday 13 October.

Felice Gimondi on the route of Il Giro di Lombardia that he won in 1966

Il Lombardia NamedSport, won twice by Felice Gimondi in 1966 and in 1973, will pay tribute to the great champion of Sedrina on Saturday 12 October on the route that will start from Bergamo and finish on the Como lakefront. The winner will be awarded a celebratory jersey to commemorate this very special 113th edition.

Norma Gimondi

Norma Gimondi, daughter of Felice Gimondi, said: “This race was among the great Classics that dad loved the most, not only because he won it twice and so he liked it on a sporting level, but also because he used to find his friends and fans on these streets. Today I am very proud that Il Lombardia is dedicated to him exactly one month after his death. I want to thank everybody for the many messages of affection that I have received following his death. It is proof that he is in everyone’s hearts.”

Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Cycling Director, said: “The thrill of organising a race like Il Lombardia is always special but this year it’s truly unique. What Gimondi gave to the cycling world will remain forever in everyone’s heart and eyes and for this reason we want to honour him in the way he deserves. A celebratory jersey will also remember this great champion and will be awarded during the final ceremony to the winner of Il Lombardia. The route has all the characteristics that Felice would have liked with the historic climbs of the Madonna del Ghisallo and Sormano as well as a hard finish with the Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia. I am sure the peloton, the fans and ourselves, the organisers, will experience, along the whole route, strong emotions that we will not forget, remembering the cyclist and the man who made the history of this sport.”

Paolo Bellino, CEO of RCS Sport: “We felt we had to pay tribute to Felice Gimondi in this edition. We do it by dedicating this race to him, a race which he won twice, and that will start from ‘his’ Bergamo. Live footage of this edition will be broadcast on the five continents and we are certain that the race will excite and entertain all cycling fans around the world. To end a great cycling weekend in the best way, we also have the Gran Fondo scheduled for Sunday 13th.”

From left: Marco Galli, Councilor for Sport of the City of Como, Mauro Vegni, RCS Sport Cycling Director, Norma Gimondi, daughter of Felice Gimondi and Loredana Poli, Councilor for Sport of the City of Bergamo.

The Route
After departing Bergamo in a southerly direction, the route crosses the Bergamo plain in its first 40km to go up the Cavallina valley to Casazza where the Colle Gallo – the first ascent of the race – is tackled. Colle is followed by a fast descent returning from the Seriana valley to Bergamo, then the route re-enters lowland roads that lead to Brianza. There’s a short passage to Colle Brianza and a descent to Pescate heading towards Valmadrera and then towards Oggiono and, finally, through Pusiano, Asso and down the descent to Onno and on to Bellagio. This is where the Ghisallo ascent – with gradients of up to 14% on wide roads with different hairpin bends – begins.

The following very fast descent is on long straights and ends at Maglio where, immediately after a right turn, the climb of the Colma di Sormano begins. After a few km of medium slopes, and a few hundred meters after Sormano, the route heads up the Muro di Sormano on a narrow, very steep road, (2km long, with a gradient up to 15%). It’s partly inside a small wood, with very narrow bends and slopes that, for around 1km of distance, exceed 25% up to almost 30%.

Once past the Colma, the route follows the descent to Nesso, where the riders then take the coastal road to reach Como. Next they face the hard climb to Civiglio (614m) with slopes almost always around 10% – and with a marked narrowing of the roadway at the top of the climb – before going back down and through Como to hit the last climb of San Fermo della Battaglia (397m). There are two Feed Zones: the first in San Sosimo (km 112-5) and the second in Onno (km 182-5).

Last km
Last 10km start inside the area of Como on wide avenues, up to the railway underpass where the final ascent of San Fermo della Battaglia begins. The slope is around 7% (max 10%). The route passes several hairpin bends up to the brow at around 5km from the finish. The descent, on a wide, well-paved road ends at the last kilometre.

25 teams: 18 UCI WorldTeams and 7 UCI Professional Continental Teams:


Thibaut Pinot celebrating on the finish line of Il Lombardia 2018:

Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen – SEP 20
Michiel Elijzen – Team Sunweb coach: “Taking place on a flat parcours around Koolskamp, Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen traditionally ends in a sprint unless strong winds cause splits in the bunch. We arrive with a motivated team and will look to be active throughout the day in covering any dangerous moves. Coming towards the finale, we will look to set up Max [Walscheid] for the sprint finish, who has came out of the Vuelta with some good performances there.”

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Max Kanter (GER), Marten Kooistra (NED), Florian Stork (GER), Louis Vervaeke (BEL), Max Walscheid (GER).

Primus Classic – SEP 21
Michiel Elijzen – Team Sunweb coach: “Primus Classic takes place on a tricky course, with several small climbs throughout the day. It’s a race that has been won by both attackers and sprinters in recent years, so we will look to pay attention to any strong groups that try to get clear and make sure we are present. If the race is decided in a sprint, then we have a strong lead out here that will work to set up and protect Cees for the finish.”

Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (DEN), Cees Bol (NED), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Max Kanter (GER), Marten Kooistra (NED), Florian Stork (GER), Louis Vervaeke (BEL).

Louis Vervaeke:

Wout Poels From Ineos to Bahrain Merida
Wout Poels leaves Ineos after 6 years. The man from Limburg has changed team from the British formation for Bahrain-Merida, signing a multi-year contract. The Bahraini team announced the collaboration.

Poels was of great value to Sky and Ineos over the last six years. The climber from Blitterswijck helped Chris Froome in three of his four Tour victories, while also contributing to the Giro victory of Froome and the Tour victories of Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas.

The 31-year-old Limburger himself achieved his greatest successes in the blue colours of Sky. In 2016, he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège, while also winning stages in the Tirreno-Adriatico, Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalonia and the Criterium du Dauphiné. At Bahrain-Merida, Poels becomes the teammate of Mikel Landa, who trades Movistar for the Bahraini million-dollar team.

Wout Poels: “It is impossible not to admire what Bahrain Merida achieved in less than three seasons. I am very enthusiastic about the possibilities that the collaboration with McLaren offers. McLaren adds a completely new perspective to sport in terms of equipment, human performance, data analysis and organisational skills. The application of the knowledge and technology will undoubtedly help the team forward. It is a fascinating prospect – not just for me, but for the sport as a whole. Combined with the expertise of Rod Ellingworth, McLaren’s commitment to Bahrain Merida promises to be one of the best and most fascinating teams in the peloton. I look forward to playing a key role in future success”.

Team manager Brent Copeland said it was great that he could welcome Poels to his team. “It is an established winner and no stranger to success. It is one of the stars of professional cycling and we are incredibly excited to have it on board,” said Copeland. “His experience will be invaluable if we work on a new chapter of our team with McLaren.”

Wout Poels:

New Three-Year Deal for Van Baarle
Team INEOS are pleased to confirm that Dylan Van Baarle has signed a new three-year contract with the team.

The 27 year old is enjoying his best season to date, taking victories on a personal level, as well as playing a key role in Egan Bernal’s Tour de France success.

Van Baarle said: “I’m super happy to sign a new contract with the team. I became a better bike rider here and I want to see the progress continue. Three years gives me confidence and it also shows that the team has confidence in me as well.”

The Dutchman took overall victory at Herald Sun Tour to kick off the year, building confidence with a stage win at the Criterium du Dauphine ahead of his first Tour appearance for the team.

On making the squad and excelling in July, Van Baarle added: “This year with Egan winning the Tour it was a dream. Coming into this team it’s what I was aiming for – to be part of the Tour team and hopefully winning. With first and second it was a really nice three weeks.

“Going into the Tour I knew I wanted to be there for the guys for as long as possible on the climbs. That’s what I did and I was pretty happy with that.”

Van Baarle heads into 2020 and beyond looking to progress in his beloved Classics, as well as aiming to improve as a Grand Tour support rider.

He added: “I hope I can be on the podium in a big Classic. I also want to be really important in the Grand Tours, helping for even longer than I did this year. That’s where I see myself in the next three years.”

Key to a series of impressive climbing performances is a new approach to training, including up at altitude with Coach Tim Kerrison.

Van Baarle explained: “The real switch actually came when I went to altitude camp in May last year. I was there with Geraint (Thomas) and I learned so much from that camp. Since then I feel like a better bike rider. We trained really hard and we ate really well. That was something which basically changed my career.”

Kerrison has seen first-hand how hard Van Baarle has worked and also believes there is plenty more to come from the Dutchman over the coming years.

He said: “Dylan has been a great addition to our team. We always recognised his potential, and over the last two years his strong work ethic has seen him develop into one of the most versatile riders in the peloton, showing his strength across one-day races, time trialling and stage races.

“He has quickly developed into a key support rider in our Tour de France team who can be relied on to deliver in all terrain at the highest level. We are sure that Dylan’s best years are still ahead of him, and look forward to working together to help him achieve his very ambitious goals.”

Dylan Van Baarle:

EF Education First Pro Cycling Signs Sprinter Kristoffer Halvorsen
EF Education First Pro Cycling will build a sprint squad around one of cycling’s most exciting young talents in 2020: Kristoffer Halvorsen. The Norwegian enjoyed incredible success in the U23 ranks punctuated by the 2016 U23 road world title. He moves to EF Education First following two years with Team Ineos.

“From day one, I got a good feeling for EF and their desire to rely on me as a sprinter,” said Kristoffer Halvorsen. “My impression is that the team has a good environment and a culture that will suit me. This feels like the right choice to help me achieve my goals as a cyclist.”

Halvorsen’s biggest win is undoubtedly his U23 world title on the flat, windswept roads of Doha, Qatar. He took two professional victories earlier this year, sprint stages at the Herald Sun Tour and Tour of Norway.

“Kristoffer is a great talent, and it’s up to us now to help him realise that talent,” said EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “Our sports science and sport directors group is motivated to make this guy a champion. As an organisation, we’re only missing one monument on the trophy mantle, and that’s Milan-Sanremo. Halvorsen is our ticket to getting that last one over the fireplace.”

Ask Halverson about his goals, and his response is clear as it is simple. He wants to win as often as he can and help his teammates do the same. “I’m a sprinter that really, really likes to win and hates to lose,” said Halvorsen. “I want to help us win together as a team, help us develop as a team.”

While Halverson’s life as a professional cyclist has provided him with ample opportunity to travel the globe, his favourite way to explore the world is at home. “I love Norwegian nature,” said Halvorsen. “Skiing the Norwegian winter landscape in the off-season is fantastic. The environment is something that everyone must take responsibility for so the next generation will have the same possibilities to use nature that we do.”

Kristoffer Halvorsen:

“Exciting” Trio Confirmed for Team NTT in Game-Changing Approach
We are delighted to announce a trio of exciting signings confirmed to join Team NTT in 2020. They are the Australian duo of Benjamin Dyball and Dylan Sunderland along with Denmark’s Andreas Stokbro.

All three take the significant step up from Continental and Pro-Continental level, respectively, to the WorldTour following an exhaustive, industry-leading approach in identifying them specifically as talents required for our team.

Benjamin Dyball

Dyball, 30, currently rides for Team Sapura and has had an excellent 2019 season. The highlight being his overall victory at the Tour de Langkawi which included a win on the stage four summit finish at Genting Highlands. It was the type of finish perfectly suited to him and he brings an additional weapon to our line-up as we look toward furthering our team’s GC ambitions. He has been competing at continental level since 2011, gaining significant experience racing for the likes of Avanti Racing, St. George Continental and also as a trainee with Delko Marseille Provence.

Dyball also captured both the time trial and road race titles at the Oceania Continental Championships in March 2019, along with stage victories at the Tour of Indonesia & Tour of Qinghai Lake, securing third on the GC in Qinghai too.

Sunderland, 23, will join us from Team Bridgelane where in 2019 he had an excellent Le Tour Savoie Mont Blanc as he finished fourth on GC. He was 5th in the Australian National Championships in the road race and also had a strong Tour of Utah.

In 2018 he won the Youth Classification at the Herald Sun Tour, finishing 5th overall on GC

Sunderland spent his formative years at the New South Wales Institute of Sport and is the nephew of former prominent professional cyclist and current Flanders Classics race director, Scott Sunderland.

Stokbro, 23, joins us from Riwal Readynez where he most recently competed at the Tour of Britain. A crash early in the race saw his chances scuppered of making the impression that he’d hoped but the Dane has already had an impressive 2019 season. A superb sprint victory at the u23 Ronde van Vlaanderen has been the crowning moment of his season with 5th at the Grote Prijs Marcel Kint & 4th at the Danish national championships also being highlights.

These signings join the likes of Victor Campenaerts, Michael Gogl, Max Walscheid, Carlos Barbero, Matteo Sobrero and Samuele Battistella who are all new additions to our WorldTour outfit in 2020.

Doug Ryder – Team Principal: “Our ability to leverage the industry-leading technology at our disposal from our partners at NTT is a game changer. We have employed a rider dashboard analysis system that takes all riders points per race days and their win ratio over a time period across the whole UCI calendar which resulted in Benjamin, Dylan and Andreas being identified. We believe this approach will result in performances that greatly strengthens our team, and ultimately give us a competitive edge in one of the world’s toughest sporting environments. These riders have the chance now to prove themselves at the highest level and we look forward to walking this journey with them as we take a leading role in what the future of the sport looks like.”

Peter Gray (NTT: Senior Vice President – Advanced Technology Group: Sport): “Top performing organisations recognise that intelligent use of data and analytics provides a competitive advantage and can transform performance. Our team at NTT has been working closely with Team Dimension Data to develop advanced new analytical models to identify and target developing talent, and equip the management team with the information they need allow them to make informed decisions as they recruit riders for Team NTT in 2020. This brings a new level of data driven innovation to the sport of professional cycling, and has the potential to transform the process of list management within cycling teams.”

Benjamin Dyball: “I am still in a bit of disbelief that I will be racing with Team NTT in 2020. I have dreamt of riding at the top level of cycling my entire life so I am incredibly excited about taking the step up next year.”

Dylan Sunderland: “I am truly grateful for this opportunity, and equally proud to be joining team NTT in 2020. The challenge of stepping up to WorldTour level and taking the next step in my career with NTT is something I am ready for! I am really looking forward to racing within the wealth of experience of Team NTT.”

Andreas Stokbro: “I’m really excited about joining team NTT next year. Taking the step to the WorldTour has always been a big goal for me, and I think Team NTT is the perfect team for me to make that step. I’ve had some great years developing as an u23 on Riwal Readynez and I’m really looking forward to continuing that on Team NTT getting to race on the top level.”

Andreas Stokbro:

Elise Chabbey Extends with Bigla
Bigla is pleased to announce that Elise Chabbey has extended her contract. Prior to joining the team in 2019, she had only been riding competitively for two years. However, since signing with the team, she has made considerable progress. This year, she achieved two podium places at the Swiss national championships: second in the elite road race, and third in the elite individual time trial. At La Course, she took home the Queen of the Mountains jersey, and finished in second place on Stage 3 at the Tour of Scotland, a race where she also finished fifth in the general classification. In July, she was part of the squad that took second place in the team time trial at the Giro Rosa, which she lists among one of her proudest achievements to date.

Reflecting on her reasons for extending her contract with Bigla, Chabbey remarks: “I have made so much progress this year within the team, and I feel that I became stronger with every race. I learned a lot from Thomas as well as my teammates. However, I can still improve a lot, and this team offers the best opportunity for me to progress.”

This year, the Swiss rider completed her university studies, and is looking forward to having more time for training and racing next year: “I’m anticipating a good 2020 season with my teammates, and I’m sure we will continue to produce excellent results. I’m particularly looking forward to the Belgian classics, as I think these races suit me, as well as the Olympic Games, which is also a significant goal of mine.”

Elise Chabbey:

New signing for Bigla with Niamh Fisher-Black
Bigla is pleased to announce that Niamh Fisher-Black has joined the team. The New Zealand rider will take part in her first race in the Bigla colours at the Giro delle Marche. After numerous successes in the New Zealand racing scene, she took part in her first European race in 2018 at the Watersley Ladies Challenge. She was also a member of the junior national team at the World Championships in the same year, and was selected as New Zealand Junior rider of the year in 2018. At the U23/Elite New Zealand Championships 2019, she took fourth place, while also finishing second in the young rider classification at the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under.

Niamh’s strengths lie in hilly terrain and demanding one-day races. Discussing her decision to join Bigla, she remarks: “The team has a very professional set-up and has demonstrated success in the development of young riders. I’m looking forward to being part of such a dynamic team. I think Bigla offers the optimum environment in which I can further develop as a rider, and I feel ready to make this progression. This is a team which continuously strives to support its riders to reach their goals. It is also a close-knit team which displays fantastic team spirit and I think this is one of the keys to success. I’m sure I will gain a lot from my teammates and I’m convinced that Bigla is a good fit. I’m looking forward to supporting the team and also gaining new experiences.”

Niamh Fisher-Black:

Eekhoff, Gall and Salmon Promoted to the WorldTour with Team Sunweb
Team Sunweb are proud to promote another three young talents to the WorldTour from the Development program, with Nils Eekhoff, Felix Gall and Martin Salmon making the step. The three riders will join former Development Team Sunweb riders Marc Hirschi, Max Kanter, Joris Nieuwenhuis and Florian Stork, who have all made the jump in recent seasons. Eekhoff and Salmon will ride in the team’s colours until the end of 2021, with Gall contracted until the end of 2022.

Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Eekhoff has had a successful three years with Development Team Sunweb, including the win at Paris-Roubaix Espoirs in 2017. The Dutch rider has continued to develop and grow each season with the team and has three victories to his name so far in 2019. A versatile rider, Eekhoff packs a fast finishing sprint but he is also adept in both time trials and trickier one-day races, making him one of the most well-rounded riders in the U23 peloton. His 2019 debut as a stagiaire saw him take a solid ninth place at the recent Tour of Britain, on a stage finale with a tricky, punchy kick to the line.

“I’m really happy to be making the step up to WorldTour level after three years with the Development program,” said Eekhoff. “I feel like it’s a great environment to grow further and fulfil my next goals. I want to continue to develop my sprint abilities, lead out and grow in the classics so that in the future I can fight for the win in the classics and be of good value to the team in the fast moments. I have already won Paris-Roubaix as an U23 rider, and my dream would be to win it with the pros in the future.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert added: “After three successful years with Development Team Sunweb and twice riding as a stagiaire with our WorldTour program, the move to become a professional cyclist is the right and logical move for Nils. He will strengthen our team in the classics and in the lead outs, but we also want to help him develop as an overall cyclist too. We are both happy and proud to have to delivered another talented rider from the Development program to the WorldTour.”

Nils Eekhoff:

Felix Gall (AUT)
Gall is a former junior world champion, winning the road race in Richmond in 2015, highlighting the Austrian’s talents. A strong climber and GC rider, Gall won the Istrian Spring Trophy overall earlier in the year after taking the victory on the penultimate day of racing after what was a very tough queen stage. Making the step up to WorldTour, Gall will look to continue his development over the coming years, racing at the highest level of competition.

“Needless to say I am incredibly happy to make the next step with the team,” explained Gall. “I wanted to stay with the team because during the last years I have learned how the team works and trust them in how they work to develop a rider. I especially like that the team is always looking at the big picture; they want to make the riders better not only for the next race but they also think about their whole career development. Looking back when I joined the team, being a professional seemed so far away but with every year in the Development program it became more realistic and now I feel ready for it. I hope that this development continues and that I can work on my skills, especially as a climber. I also want to learn from the experienced guys and become a rider who the team can rely on.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert said: “Growing up in the Alps of Lienz, Felix is a rider that favours the climbs and has showed some great performances in the past on that type of terrain. He’s had some health problems this year but we believe that Felix is ready to step up to the WorldTour and gain the experiences needed with the team so that he can reach his full potential in the future. It’s great to see another rider from Development Team Sunweb make the step up and join his friends and teammates at the WorldTour.”

Felix Gall:

Martin Salmon (GER)
An all-round rider, Salmon has rode strongly in support of the team and he was an integral part of the team’s three back-to-back wins at the German U23 national road race. Salmon continued to impress during his time as a stagiaire within the team in the latter part of the season, where he delivered a strong and consistent performance at the Tour of Denmark. The highlight moment was his tenacious breakaway on the last stage and winning the most aggressive rider overall at the race.

“I‘m absolutely thrilled to be joining the WorldTour team for the next two years,” explained Salmon. “I am enormously grateful for the opportunity the team has given me. They have built me up as a rider step-by-step with the Development program and stood by me throughout the whole process.”

Team Sunweb coach Sebastian Deckert added: “Like Nils and Felix, Martin is another core member of Development Team Sunweb, helping the team to great successes throughout the season. Martin has once again showed great teamwork this year and while riding as a stagiaire with the WorldTour program, he impressed with strong performances. We’re looking forward to seeing Martin continue to develop as an all-rounder, racing full time with the WorldTour program.”

Martin Salmon:

Jannik Steimle Pens Two-Year Deal with Deceuninck – Quick-Step
The 23-year-old German signs for our team after impressive spell as stagiaire.

Following a solid stint as a trainee for the UCI World Team Classification Leader, Jannik Steimle has been offered a contract as of next season. Hailing from Stuttgart, Steimle has impressed in his outings at Izegem Koers, Brussels Cycling Classic and Textielprijs Vichte this month, which added to the six victories that he has already notched up in 2019 while riding for Team Vorarlberg, have earned him a two-year deal.

Jannik was, of course, ecstatic when talking about this move: “It’s an unbelievable feeling, a childhood dream come true! When Patrick offered me the contract, it was really crazy to think that I was going to sign with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. I am really happy to get this opportunity and now I can really show the team and the cycling world what I can do. I am eager to see what this new road in life will bring me, but I can already tell you that I love the classics and hard one-day races, where I tend to do good and have a strong sprint from a reduced bunch.”

“When I first came to the team, I was really nervous, but after two minutes it felt like it is a big family straight away. I arrived at the airport and our soigneur Kevin Verstaen picked me up and he was really nice to me and talked a lot about the squad and the feeling from him was really great. Then, at my first race, Patrick Lefevere was there, and also big riders like Yves, Iljo and Alvaro, and they were all really nice to me. We talked a lot, and then in Izegem, my first outing, I thought I performed well and showed what I can do. I want to thank the team again for this opportunity and I can’t wait to learn and work hard as a member of the Wolfpack”, added the promising German, whose two most important wins of the season came at the Tour of Austria, where he claimed the prologue and stage 5.

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere spoke of his delight at having secured Steimle’s services for the next two years: “Jannik’s signing is very special for us. We have a good track record of developing young talent and it didn’t take long to decide that we would like him to stay with us. As well as being a strong rider, we have already seen that he is willing to work and learn from the more experienced guys around him. Crucially, he also has the personality to fit in well with the group and wants to be part of the team, so today we welcome him to the Wolfpack.”

Jannik Steimle:

Medical Update: Steve Cummings
Following his crash during stage five of the Tour of Britain Steve Cummings has been discharged from hospital. He underwent thorough diagnostics at the neurosurgical department in Liverpool and was found to have fractured four vertebrae of the thoracic spine. Luckily no further neurological damage occurred and an operation is not necessary.

Under conservative treatment he now needs to fully recover and will not be able to participate in any further races until the end of the season. We would like to extend our gratitude for all the messages of support we’ve received for Steve, and wish him a speedy recovery.

Steve Cummings:

Never Give Up – After a Rough Start, Our Vuelta Team Came Out Smiling
EF Education First Pro Cycling’s five finishers rode to every challenge the 74th Vuelta a España threw their way. During the first week of the Vuelta, Hugh Carthy, Rigoberto Urán and Tejay van Garderen were forced to abandon the race due to crashes, necessitating a complete change in plans.

Our five remaining riders remained steady through the chaos, maintained a positive outlook despite the bad luck, and, in the end, proved that they were not merely content to make it to Madrid but eager to embrace the role of animators as the race unfolded across Spain, Andorra, and France.

EF Education First Pro Cycling CEO Jonathan Vaughters said character is shaped, built, revealed in our most challenging moments. During this Vuelta, our riders and staff showed us that they are champions. Hear a bit from each below on this Vuelta’s defining characteristics and special moments.

Logan Owen: “I learned that you can get sick, you can crash and you can still recover – all while racing. That was cool to understand. […] It’s about having the will to continue.”

Dani Martínez: “Around the course in Madrid, there were a lot of people from Colombia, from Spain, from many countries all over the world, and, of course, our co-workers from EF Education First. I wanted to show the team colours, show the team spirit, take one final chance.”

Sergio Higuita: “Racing the Vuelta, finishing a Grand Tour, winning a stage, it’s all special. This has been my dream since I was a child.”

Mitch Docker: “Coming up on that last straightaway on the last circuit lap in Madrid, seeing 500, 400, 300, feeling like it was really over. It was emotional. […] This race reminded us all that suffering makes success so much sweeter.”

Lawson Craddock: “The Vuelta was a mentally and physically trying three weeks, so there’s a lot of joy at the moment to finish it off with the guys we have here.”

DS, Ken Vanmarcke: “We were trying really hard, but at a certain time, it became harder to keep doing that because we were never rewarded… until we had the magnificent day when Sergio won. In the end, this was a really memorable and really special Vuelta.”

DS, Juanma Garate: “The sun came up again. We couldn’t forget what had happened, but we all knew we had to continue. Which they did. And that kept the morale of the team really high.”

Re-live our Vuelta
The ups and downs of the Grand Tour are undeniable. They can be as harsh as they are beautiful. This Vuelta had a bit of both for us.

Read more.

Sergio Higuita, Dani Martínez, Mitch Docker, Lawson Craddock, Logan Owen:

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka win Prestigious Beyond Sport Global Award
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were announced as winners at the prestigious Beyond Sport Global Awards 2019 in New York on Thursday as the Best Corporate Campaign or Initiative in the Sport for Good category. This is for our work with the Qhubeka Charity.

The award recognises organisations that are using their reach, resources and influence to effect change. Together with our partners, supporters, riders and staff we have funded over 27,000 bikes to Qhubeka. These funds are channelled into Qhubeka’s scholar mobility and mechanic training programmes, which help children to access education, help support skills development and job creation in South Africa.

This year’s Beyond Sport Global Awards 2019 shortlist represented 37 countries, across six continents and more than 40 sports, all dedicated to creating positive social impact in communities around the world through sport to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Doug Ryder: “We are honoured to win the Best Corporate Campaign or Initiative in the Sport for Good category at the Beyond Sport awards. In a field filled with projects doing amazing work, to have been presented with this award is truly humbling. Moreover, the calibre of entries on the shortlist is testament to the change we can collectively make in changing lives across the globe.”

“We will use this platform to continue to spread the ethos of our team, and change lives with bicycles through the Qhubeka Charity. We’d also like to extend our gratitude to Beyond Sport for leveraging sport to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

The Emotions of the UAE Team Emirates at La Vuelta 2019
🥇🥇🥇Three stage wins ‬
‪⚪ Young rider jersey
‪🥉 Third place overall

‪Relive these unforgettable moments from the Vuelta a Espana 2019:

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