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EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

The 2018 Tour de France makes its return to the cobbles of Roubaix and the Alpe d’Huez – Tour Top Story. Apart from the Tour news we also catch up with the weekend’s cyclocross with results and video. In other cycling news: Fabio Aru goes to UAE Team Emirates, plus more contract news from Slipstream, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Lotto Soudal, Team Novo Nordisk and Rally. Medical up-dates on Iljo Keisse and Jan Bakelants, Wanty-Groupe Gobert win the UCI Europe Tour and we finish with Tour presentation video.

TOP STORY: Tour de France 2018
At barely more than 3,300 kilometers long, the 2018 Tour de France ranks among the shortest of the 21st Century. This unusual distance results primarily from a proposition made by Christian Prudhomme to the riders, who will have to build their success in these new territories. “We especially wanted to emphasize stage variety and the routes that may prove decisive, whilst combining legendary climbs with brand new ascensions or ultra-dynamic formats, to provide a vision of modern and inspired cycling”.

In fact, the innovations planned for the 105th edition might inspire boldness among the most daring riders in the pack, which will be reduced to 176 riders at the start in the Vendée department and Pays de Loire region. The section of the race in Brittany will repeatedly sap the riders legs on the way to Quimper, before a double climb of the Mûr-de-Bretagne the following day, with additional spicing up thanks to the new bonuses points awarded on the stage finishes in the opening week. The route has been designed so that the favorites can do battle even before entering the mountains, especially on the 21.7 km of the Roubaix cobblestones.

The stakes in the contest will rise again in the Alps. Whilst the riders may feel that they are far from uncharted territory around Grand-Bornand, it will be a different matter altogether on the Plateau des Glières, which the riders will reach after a steep climb and two kilometers on a non-tarmacked track. The next day, the pack will not only discover the Rosière ski resort, but also the Col du Pré pass on the way there, which could be conducive to glorious feats. The Alps will conclude with a classic mountain stage with the finish at Alpe d’Huez, which could be the opportunity for some revenge and plot twists. The hostilities will then continue on the climb to the Mende airstrip and even perhaps in Carcassonne, following the climb over Pic de Nore (1205 m). In the Pyrenees, the sprinters could certainly battle for the win at Pau, but the climbers could have the last word in a wealth of different registers: the combative riders will be the ones to watch in Luchon; the most explosive riders will surely take centre stage on the shortest road stage (65 km) to be ridden since the elimination of half-stages with an all-new finish on the Col de Portet pass (2215 m); the riders with the most stamina will shine on the 200 km separating Lourdes from Laruns via the Col Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque passes; and finally the best all-rounders should come up trumps on the undulating time-trial in the relief of the Basque Country. The final top spots will still be up for grabs on this crucial stage 24 hours before the finish in Paris…

See the full PEZ TOUR’18 Preview HERE.

Rider Quotes:
Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale): “I am delighted with this Tour which looks pretty well balanced, and offers a wide variety of terrains to exploit. The team time trial will put the composition of the team at the forefront. In that short stage of just over 60 kilometers, the leaders will be sparing with each other. There will also be a lot of potential pitfalls. No one will be really calm the morning of the stage with the cobbles, and several stages promise to be very exposed to the wind. In the last week, the big climbing days will play a very important role. One day we’ll be doing more than 5000 meters and another day nearly 4000. I like these marathon stages, they are what make the legend of the Tour de France.”

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal): “It’s always a great moment when the course of the next Tour de France is revealed. I have taken a first look at the route. The start in the Vendée is nice. Most sprint opportunities are in the first part of the Tour. No doubt, the first week will be nervous, as usual. On top of that there is chance of echelons being formed, which means everyone will want to be at the front. The cobble stage to Roubaix is special. I am looking forward to it, but it’s a stage that suits a lot of others too. I see several opportunities and I am looking forward to riding the Tour with a strong Lotto Soudal team. I will, like always, do everything to be in top shape and will aim for my twelfth stage win.”

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo): “They have designed a very complete Tour. The first important contact will be the team time trial. At the beginning of the race they will have to be attentive to the wind and some finishes like the Wall of Bretagne or later in Mende, which always make some differences, but the first day really important will be Roubaix, with many stretches of cobblestones. To watch it on TV will be nice, but for the riders who are there is always a risk, it is a day of great tension for all the teams that have thoroughly prepared the Tour and that in a day can finish everything. It will be very spectacular.

There are very hard stages, with mythical finishes like the Alpe d’Huez and other with novelties at the end: it is always good to know other mountains. There is also an initiative that I find very attractive, which is to do a kind of time trial with 3 climbs. It’s a shame they put it now and not before! Those are stages that invite to make spectacle, are difficult to control for a team, stages in which you can break the block and that makes it especially attractive. And finally there is an individual time trial not excessively long, which can make Froome not have as much advantage against climbers as on other occasions. In general terms it will be a fairly open Tour.”

Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “There is a stage for everyone! For a Belgian team with riders as ours, there are definitely opportunities in the first week. Especially in the Roubaix stage, if we are invited, my team-mates can perform on the cobbles. There will be a lot of adrenaline that day. For my part that day will be difficult. But if I lose time there are two more weeks to chase stage wins or something else. Then there are a lot of stages that suit riders with my profile, but also a day with no less than 5000 altitude meters! With the cobbles, the first week will be extreme, but that will be the same case in the mountains. We must specifically prepare ourselves to shine in both short and long stages. I will have to train to respond from the start, which is not my strongest point. I look specifically forward to the La Rosière stage, because it is similar to the one I won in Tour de l’Avenir.”

2018 Tour de France route:

Telenet Superprestige Zonhoven 2017
On Sunday in Zonhoven, Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) won round two of the Superprestige series again beating World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) with Lars van der Haar (Telenet-Fidea) in third place.

An uncharacteristically slow start for van der Poel saw him back in sixth place on the opening lap as The early speed of Laurens Sweeck (Era-Circus) put Van der Poel in 6th place as Van Aert pushed on with Sweeck and Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Fidea) to gap Van der Poel at the end of lap one. Van der Poel was not in trouble long and had them caught on the third lap. The Dutchman then attacked in the sandpit on lap four to soon build up a solo lead.

Behind Van Aert had Van der Haar and David van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) with him for company, but the Belgian was always the stronger rider, eventually David van der Poel couldn’t hold the pace. Van den Haar attacked Van Aert in the sand with over a lap to go, but the World champion came back to him and then rode away for second place.

Van der Poel had a couple of problems in the sand, but held off Van Aert by over 20 seconds for his second win of the weekend.

Telenet Superprestige Zonhoven Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon in 1:07:07
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Charles at 0:22
3. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:36
4. David van der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon at 1:16
5. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus at 1:44
6. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:55
7. Michael Boroš (Cze) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice at 2:17
8. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 2:41
9. Jens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice
10. Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus at 2:43.


Brico Cross – Kruibeke 2017
On Saturday the 14th of October, Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) dominated the Brico Cross in Kruibeke, beating his old rival, World champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) by 22 seconds with Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea) taking third a further 22 seconds down. Young British rider and multi-World champion, Tom Pidcock (Telenet Fidea) took a fine ninth place in his first professional race.

Brico Cross – Kruibeke Result:
1. Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Beobank-Corendon in 1:04:46
2. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Crelan-Charles at 0:22
3. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 0:44
4. Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:13
5. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era-Circus at 1:17
6. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux-Napoleon Games
7. Tim Merlier (Bel) Crelan-Charles
8. Michael Boroš (Cze) Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice
9. Thomas Pidcock (GB) Telenet Fidea Lions
10. Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions at 1:27.


UAE Team Emirates Announce Signing of Fabio Aru
UAE Team Emirates has officially announced the signing of Fabio Aru. The Italian National Champion has agreed a three year deal with the Emirati team.

Commenting on the signing, UAE Team Emirates’ Team Manager, Carlo Saronni said: “We are happy to welcome a champion like Fabio Aru. His skills perfectly match the ambitions of the team. Besides highlighting Aru’s enormous potential, I’d like to point out that he is a rider who can stir up excitement amongst the fans and he is well-loved because of his generosity on a bike. With his performances, he will contribute to promoting an ideal team image and he will likely help us achieve important, competitive results.”

Commenting on signing for his new team, Italian Fabio Aru said: “I’m honored that the UAE Team Emirates management and their sponsors want to unite our cycling endeavors. I thank them for the faith they’ve placed in me and I hope to live up to their expectations. I would also like to thank everyone who has been with me up to now in my career, they’ve all been important to my development.”

Fabio Aru:

Woods Will Wear Argyle in 2018-2019
Slipstream Sports is thrilled to confirm it has retained the services of Mike Woods for the 2018-2019 seasons. A latecomer to the sport, Woods stepped up to the WorldTour at the age of 29 with Cannondale Pro Cycling Team in 2016.

The Canadian led the team in his first race in argyle, the 2016 Santos Tour Down Under, where he finished fifth overall in his WorldTour debut. He recently completed his second Grand Tour, the 2017 Vuelta a España, where he managed a solid seventh place on general classification.

“There was no question that we wanted Mike to stay with us,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “We knew he was capable of the performances he put in this year if he was managed and mentored properly, and we think we’re still uncovering the depths of his potential. Mike is motivated, bright and open-minded. He’s an asset to our program.”

“The team has put their faith in from the start,” said Woods. “They were the first team that reached out to me, and they gave me a leadership role in my very first race – which is even harder to wrap my mind around now than it was back then. I’m happy to have the opportunity to pay back everyone for the trust and support they showed me during these next two years.”

While Woods’ 2016 debut showcased his promise, his season as a whole was marred by a series of frustrating set-backs. Woods suffered multiple injuries and poorly timed illnesses. He first missed out on an anticipated Giro d’Italia start and then a Vuelta a España start. He crashed out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a broken hand only four days after poor positioning at Flèche Wallonne cost him a chance to contend for the podium.

“I couldn’t get out of my own way,” Woods reminisced. “I had the legs but not the experience or the confidence. My teammates were exceedingly patient with me – especially Alex Howes and Simon Clarke.”

Woods started his second season in Adelaide, Australia where he hoped to contend for the overall win at the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under. He finished in 21st overall.

“It messed with my head a bit,” Woods admitted.

He suffered through a cold and wet Paris-Nice and came out swinging at Volta a Catalunya. His results – ninth, 11th and 12th on climbing stages – belie the improvements he made and glimmer of tactical nuance he began to show. By season end, Woods was climbing with the best, displaying race savviness well beyond his WorldTour years and brimming with newfound confidence.

“The things that I’ve accomplished this year are a result of my development by this team,” said Woods. “I am so grateful that Vaughters found a way for Slipstream Sports to continue and that EF Education First stepped up to partner with us. I had other offers, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here.

“Beyond the support I’ve been offered, I have made great friendships with my teammates, our staff and our sponsors,” said Woods. “It wouldn’t be the same riding anywhere else.”

Mike Woods:

Team signs Portuguese climber Joaquim Silva ; Lastra and Reis renew
The Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team continue to bolster their line-up ahead of the 2018 season, today confirming the signing of Joaquim Silva from the W52 FC Porto team. The 25 year old will add to the current climbing talent in the squad and will link-up with his countryman and former team mate Rafael Reis. His best results this year came on Spanish soil with top-10s in both the Vuelta Castilla y Leon and the Vuelta Asturias.

He also showed promise during his time in the under-23 ranks – he was 8° in theTour l’Avenir 2014 and 2° in the u23 Tour of Portugal 2014.

Meanwhile Jonathan Lastra and Rafael Reis have both renewed their contracts for 2018. Both riders have impressed since coming into the team, Lastra in 2016 and Reis in 2017. Lastra has registered several top-10 results this year such as in the Coppa Agostoni and the Tour of Vendee. Reis completed his first Vuelta España in August, with presence in the breakaways on various stages.

Silva: “For me to race in Caja Rural is a dream come true. It’s a very big step in my sporting career but also in my life. It has always been my dream to race for a top team and now I feel like my hard work has been recompensated. I am a natural climber and I like stage racing – that is where most of my best results have come from. Working for my team is also something I have learned over the past few years and is what I look forward to doing at my new team.

My objectives are clear: try to complete everything the team asks of me. There are man great cyclists in this team and for me it is a great honor to race with them. Aside from this, if I am given the opportunity to ride for myself I will of course take it.”

Nate Brown re-ups with Slipstream Sports
Slipstream Sports is proud to announce the two-year contract extension of Nate Brown. The 26-year-old showed considerable improvements during the 2017 season, which earned him his first Tour de France call-up. In July, Brown not only supported Rigoberto Uran to second place but also spent two days atop the Tour’s mountains classification.

“This has been my best season yet,” said Brown. “I have a lot I am proud of, but I think my proudest moment was wearing the polka dot jersey in the Tour de France. It was always a dream to race the Tour, and wearing the polka dot jersey was beyond anything I could have imagined.”

“Nate’s performances this season have given him confidence and furthered his ambitions,” said Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “Nate has always been talented and hard-working. This year, I think he’s come to see what he’s truly capable of, which makes him capable of even more. We know what he can do and now so does he.”

Brown called the decision to stay with Slipstream Sports “an easy one” in large part due to the support he’s received from his teammates, staff and management during his three-year tenure with the American-registered squad.

“The moment JV came to me with another contract, I knew it was the right choice to stay,” said Brown. “This team is a family to me. They have always had my back and given me great opportunities. I can’t wait to keep developing with them for another two years. I feel like I have a lot more I can give the team.”

“I want to keep improving,” said Brown. “Every year I have gotten a little better. I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential yet.”

Nate Brown:

Bjorg Lambrecht about his transition to the pros
Bjorg Lambrecht will make his debut in Lotto Soudal’s elite team next season. The twenty-year-old has spent two successful seasons with Lotto Soudal U23 and is now ready for new challenges. In the past couple of years, Lambrecht has asserted himself as one of the most promising climbers for the future, and the winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège U23 2017 has been able to claim some impressive results with the juniors. In 2016 he won the first stage of the Ronde de l’Isard and kept the leader’s jersey until the end. This year he finished second in several prestigious U23 stage races, such as the Tour de l’Avenir, the Giro Valle d’Aoste and the Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc. The Belgian rider took part in the GP de Wallonie with the national team in September and crossed the line in ninth place. With this first good result in the elite category, Bjorg Lambrecht can certainly look forward to the future.

Bjorg Lambrecht: “This is a dream coming true! At the beginning of this year, I had never thought that I could make the transition to the pro peloton in January 2018. Last winter I was out for eight weeks with a broken foot and I was only able to do some stabilization exercises to get ready for the new season. I thought my level of fitness would be far too low in the first races. I was supposed to come back to racing after Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but I could somehow start a bit earlier than expected. In Liege-Bastogne-Liège, I had a great day and I won the race. I went on and had a super great season. My performances in the Tour de l’Avenir in August led to the decision to make the transition to the professional peloton at the beginning of 2018. Many talented U23 riders have signed a pro contract for January 2018, and I would have had a lot of pressure on my shoulders. With the pros, I can start from scratch.”

“It’s a step into the unknown, and I expect the first few months to be really hard. It will mainly be about learning as much as I can. I am very happy to stay in a safe, trusted environment after riding for the U23 team of Lotto Soudal for the past two seasons. With the U23 team I had a very nice race program, and I got the chance to compete in all the main races which involved a lot of climbing. That was the best journey I could take in the U23 category.”

“With the WorldTour team, I would like to help our leaders in the finales of smaller stage races next year. I will ride alongside Tiesj Benoot and Tim Wellens, and Harm Vanhoucke will probably be joining us halfway through the season. It will be nice to work with them. Of course, I hope that I can deliver good results in the future, both in stage races and in the Ardennes classics. Time trialling is becoming one of my priorities, as I really need to get better at it if I want to claim good results in stage races.”

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “Bjorg has had two fantastic seasons. He impressed a lot in 2016, his first season in the U23 category, and he carried it on through 2017. Despite his broken foot in winter, he performed well immediately, with a victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Therefore, a switch to the pros seemed to be a logical choice. He seems to be very down-to-earth, he isn’t too bothered by the stress and the pressure, but now begins a new story. He has always been progressing so far, but there’s a lot of learning to be done for a young climber in his first years with the pros. I often hear about ‘the new Boonen’ or ‘the next Belgian Grand Tour rider’ when it comes to promising young talents, but I hope that he does not get that sort of expectation from the media and the outside world. The team will let him all the time he needs to grow and to mature, and even if he shows some flashes of talent, the process will always involve falling and getting up, good and difficult moments.”

Bjorg Lambrecht:

Team signs brother/sister tandem
Ellsay siblings join Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling brings new meaning to the phrase “keeping it in the family” by signing a dynamic sibling duo to their roster, Canada’s Nigel and Gillian Ellsay. The pair come from Silber Pro Cycling and Colavita Bianchi, respectively, and will be racing together in the same program for the first time in their young careers.

Growing up in Courtenay, British Columbia, the Ellsays often chased each other around Vancouver Island on their bicycles, learning from a bike racing dad as they went, eventually developing into two of Canada’s most promising young time trialists. They bring a unique competitive spirit and loads of raw talent to the team.

Nigel Ellsay:
2016 BCSuperweek Tour de White Rock Criterium, NigelELLSAY(CAN-SPC)

From top junior to professional
Gillian trained and raced for a number of years as a result of her dad’s influence, but it wasn’t until her brother started racing that she really embraced the sport.

“Riding on the same team as my brother is going to be a blast! He’s been one of my biggest supporters since I started racing. He passed on a lot of valuable advice and shared his experiences with me, and it’s helped me avoid some common mistakes,” said Gillian.

The move to a bigger team comes at the perfect time in Gillian’s development. As Junior National Time Trial Champion in 2015, she won gold at the Canada Summer Games and that propelled her into her first professional contract with Team Colavita Bianchi in 2017. While there, she competed in some of America’s biggest races and gained valuable experience that will serve her well in her young career.

Gillian raced as a guest rider at Rally Cycling’s hometown race, the North Star Grand Prix, in 2016. She showed the team some of her unique spirit and talent, leading to a full time roster spot for 2018.

“We know what Gillian is capable of, and we are very excited to add her to our growing roster,” said Women’s Performance Director Zach Bell. “We have a lot of Canadians on the team that are tough, smart, great athletes, and we think Gillian will fit right in.”

“I’m really excited to sign for Rally Cycling,” said Gillian. “They have been one the most consistent teams for a while now and a team I have looked up to since I was a junior. You can see the amount of depth, support and opportunities the team has. Consistent, hard working riders and staff is the recipe for success.”

From Under-23 Standout to Elite Contender
Nigel Ellsay started his professional career with the Canadian Silber Pro Cycling outfit in 2014, where he developed into a general classification leader. He excels in the time trial, much like current Rally Cycling rider, former teammate, and countryman Matteo Dal-Cin.

In perhaps the biggest result of his career, Nigel finished 2nd in a nail-bitingly close 2017 Canadian Time Trial Championships to WorldTour rider and former World Time Trial Silver medalist, Svein Tuft. Tuft is known as one of the strongest and most respected riders in the professional peloton, a journeyman. To be within seconds of him spoke volumes of Nigel’s ability.

However, Ellsay felt his performance at the Tour of Utah this year was a major turning point in his career, and showcased that the young Canadian is ready to ride at the upper echelons of the sport.

“TT Nationals was really cool but I’m most proud of my 13th on GC at the Tour of Utah,” said Nigel. “It wasn’t a win, a podium or even a top ten! However, it was a big personal victory. I’ve never climbed at that level before. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work over the winter, then staying focused throughout the season. Looking back, there are ways I could have been better. But I’m most proud of my Utah ride because of the big changes and sacrifices I made to get to there.”

In addition to his Tour of Utah result, Nigel finished in the top ten overall at the Tour of Alberta, Joe Martin Stage race and Cascade Cycling Classic in 2017. This consistency at major stage races is a key reason he landed a spot on the 2018 roster.

“You can see that Nigel is ready to land some big results,” said Men’s Performance Director Jonas Carney. “He is always there at the end of these difficult races. Putting him with our best climbers will push him to reach that next level.”

The Ellsays join Robin Carpenter as the first of some big roster announcements coming this Fall.

Gillian Ellsay:

Emanuel Mini Moving Up to Team Novo Nordisk Pro Squad
Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, is bringing one of its best development team athletes, Argentinian Emanuel Mini, onto the men’s pro squad for the 2018 season.

“Since we switched to an all-diabetes roster in 2013, we’ve shown with consistency that athletes with diabetes can race at the professional level. We are extremely proud to add our first South American rider to the team’s roster with Emanuel,” Team Novo Nordisk CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland said. “Emanuel brings power and depth to our racing program, but he’s so much more than just a rider. His always enthusiastic and positive demeanor will be an add in all aspects of our project. We initially met Emanuel through our summer talent ID camps, and it is clear through the camps that more and more kids are riding bikes and interested in joining our program. Emanuel is another great example of how we are changing diabetes.”

The 30-year-old Mini first met Team Novo Nordisk when the team was racing at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in 2014. Mini had only been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the previous year and was surprised to see people with the same condition as him racing against the best cyclists in the world.

“Since the day Emanuel joined our program, he’s made consistent and steady progress. He is a dedicated rider who followed the team’s direction perfectly over the years, but what stands out is his personality. He’s a very positive person who is extremely motivated,” Team Novo Nordisk General Manager Vassili Davidenko said. “He’s a solid all-around rider and 2018 will serve as a transition year for him. We are looking to make the transition as smooth as possible, and I expect his amazing personality will help him make through the tough racing days ahead.”

When initially diagnosed with diabetes, Mini thought his life was over, but thanks to a supportive doctor, he regained his health and got back on the bike. He went on to take 10th overall at the Argentinian Rally Championship Marathon the following year. After attending a talent ID camp, Mini officially joined Team Novo Nordisk’s development squad in 2015.

“Putting on the pro jersey is a unique opportunity and comes with great responsibility; I’ve dreamed of this since my first day with the devo team. Being the first South American rider gives me such pride to represent the millions of people from my part of the world,” Mini said. “In these past three years, Team Novo Nordisk has become my second family. They have invested so much in me not only as an athlete but as a person, and I’m motivated to give 100 percent back to the team.”

Emanuel Mini:
Team Novo Dorkisk 2017 Stone Mountain, Atlanta.

Iljo Keisse to miss Six Days of Ghent
The Belgian will forfeit this year’s edition after undergoing surgery on his right fifth digit.

Iljo Keisse has been operated last Friday in Herentals to repair a tendon on his right pinky. Winner of Omloop Mandel and Textielprijs Vichte this season, the 34-year-old will have to observe 10-12 days of resting before going on the rollers, but a further 6 to 8 weeks will pass before he’ll make his return to competition.

This means Iljo will not be at the start of the Six Days of Ghent, the prestigious six day event which he won on six occasions – last time in 2015 – scheduled this year between 14-19 November.

“The season wasn’t over for me and the Six Days of Ghent was my last goal of the year, so to miss it is a major disappointment, especially as I’ve been on the podium in the past five years and it’s my home race. It won’t be easy to watch it as a spectator”, Iljo said after last week’s surgery.

Iljo Keisse:

Jan Bakelants’ Operation a Success
Jan Bakelants underwent an operation on his L3 lumbar vertebra on Friday, October 13th at the University Hospital of UZ Gasthuisberg in Louvain (Belgium). The operation, carried out by Professor Bart Depreitere, was a success. He left the intensive care unit on Monday, October 16th.

He will be able to return to his home at the end of this week in order to continue his convalescence and recovery. However, it is much too early to begin discussing the date on which he can resume his sports activities.

Jan is relieved that the operation was a success, and he is ready to begin what will likely be a long rehabilitation. He would like to thank Professor Depreitere and the entire urgent care team for their dedication and care.

Jan Bakelants crashed in Il Lombardia Saturday, October 7th. Seven rib fractures, as well as the fractures of two dorsal vertebrae (D8, D10) and two lumbar vertebrae (L1 and L3) were diagnosed.

The AG2R LA MONDIALE team wishes a speedy recovery to its rider, and hopes that he will be able to return to racing very quickly.

Jan Bakelants:

Second consecutive win for Wanty-Groupe Gobert
After Putte-Kapellen Wanty-Groupe Gobert is the final winner of the UCI Europe Tour for the second consecutive time. That classification crowns the most regular procontinental team in Europe. After the final race Putte-Kapellen, Wanty-Groupe Gobert is sure of a new final victory, the second consecutive because in 2016 the team also won the ranking. Victories in among others Le Samyn, Tour du Limousin, Druivenkoers, Omloop van het Houtland, Giro della Toscana, Coppa Sabatini and countless close spots brought our team a collective victory. In the final classification Wanty-Groupe Gobert is in front of Cofidis and Androni-Sidermec.

Hilaire Van der Schueren: “It is proof that we are the best team this season. We finish before Cofidis, Direct Energie, Androni and Fortuneo. That gives a boost.”

“Three weeks ago I told general manager Jean-François Bourlart that we would win the Europe Tour. At the moment we were 500 points behind. But I know how the system works. We speculated that well. We have changed our way of riding. We rode to pick up points and that brings benefits.”

“This year was even more special to win the Europe Tour because we did not get any points in July because of our participation in the Tour. We need to prepare for that next year.”

“I’m very pleased with this season. By the end of 2016 everyone said: ‘You cannot do better. You cannot equal the victory of Gasparotto in the Amstel and the Europe Tour win’. With participation in the Tour and a second final victory in the Europe Tour, I think we did.”

The Wanty-Group Gobert training in Liege:

Richie Porte Returns to Racing at Japan Cup Cycle Road Race
Richie Porte will return to racing one last time this season when he lines up at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race criterium and road race this weekend.

Porte, who last raced at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race in 2013, has slowly been recovering from injuries sustained in a crash during the Tour de France.

“We are really happy to see Richie Porte back at the start line for the first time since his Tour de France crash. Although we are lining up at the last race of the season, the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race will be a good chance for Richie to get back into the racing rhythm before he starts a solid off season. We also have Danilo Wyss and Michael Schär racing, and Martin Elmiger who will race for the last time before he retires. Rounding out the team is stagiaire Bram Welten who will make his debut at the Japan Cup Road Race,” Sports Director Fabio Baldato explained.

“The riders will test their legs first on Saturday at the criterium before the road race on Sunday. The Japan Cup Cycle Road Race is always an unpredictable race but we will line up motivated for a good result in the last race of the season.”

Porte is excited to end his season in Japan. “I’m really looking forward to racing at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race this year. Not only is it a chance for me to get another race day in the legs before the end of the season, but it’s also my first opportunity to race at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race since 2013,” Porte said.

“The Japanese fans are really incredible so it’s always a great atmosphere at the race. I can definitely say it’s one of my favorite races. Given I haven’t raced since July, I’m not going in with any expectations. I’m just happy to be racing again this year before my focus turns to the 2018 season.”

Japan Cup Rider Roster:
Martin Elmiger (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Bram Welten (NED), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
Sports Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA).

Richie Porte crash:

2018 Tour de France Presentation
As you read earlier, ASO presented the route of the 2018 Tour de France on Tuesday in Paris, here are some of the view’s of the riders to the French Grand Tour course.

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