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Racing will start very soon, but the teams are still training like crazy. Remco Evenepoel isn’t training – TOP STORY. Loads of other cycling news. Race news: Grand Tours want an extra wildcard, Vuelta a Murcia to change dates, Saudi Tour and Tour of Oman missing, wildcards for Volta a Catalunya. Rider news from Julian Alaphilippe, Elia Viviani, Diego Ulissi, Chris Froome, Tadej Pogačar, Dan Martin, Fernando Gaviria, Louis Meintjes, Rui Costa, Wilco Kelderman and Baptiste Planckaert. Team news from AG2R Citröen, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, Israel Start-Up Nation, SEG Racing Academy, Tormans CX and UAE Team Emirates. Plus UCI and Eurosport strengthen agreement for cycling on TV and Shimano take over neutral support at the Tour de France.

top story
TOP STORY: No training for Remco Evenepoel For a Few More weeks
Remco Evenepoel is still not allowed to train by the doctors. The young Deceuninck – Quick-Step talent underwent an MRI scan that showed that the pubic bone fracture from the Tour of Lombardy has still not fully recovered. Team manager, Patrick Lefevere, confirmed to Sporza.

Evenepoel’s blood values ​​are good, the medical scan showed, as well as the recovery of his body. So he can recover well, but the fracture he sustained in August of the previous year still does not seem to have closed completely. As a result, the 20-year-old is still not allowed to train on the bike. Evenepoel’s plan was to calmly resume training this week, but this is now being stopped to allow the fracture to heal completely. It is therefore still unclear when he can ride his first race kilometres.

At the Deceuninck – Quick-Step training camp in Altea, Evenepoel will continue to recover and discuss with the team what the plan is for his comeback on the bike. “If I have learned one thing, it is that these injuries are very delicate for a cyclist. Could even jeopardise his career. So now I have to adjust and give myself time to heal completely. Does it take a day longer than I would like? Then so be it. It won’t make any difference,” Evenepoel said in an interview with HLN last weekend.

“Plan-A is and will remain the intention,” referring to the Giro d’Italia. “But in the worst case scenario we switch to plan B. Olympic Games, Vuelta, World Championships, Tour of Lombardy… There are plenty of other goals this season.”

“We are not going to make the same mistake again,” said Patrick Lefevere in Sporza‘s radio program De Tribune. Evenepoel has to be without a bicycle for another three weeks. “Then see if we take any risks for the Giro.”

“Apparently the growth of the bone has not happened as fast as everyone thought. He was in pain, but he didn’t say so. He thought it was part of the rehabilitation,” said Lefevere. “We hoped he would cycle again from tomorrow, but we are not taking any risks. So he will probably stay off the bike for another three weeks. Then we arrive at 8 February, exactly three months before the start of the Giro. If all goes well, then we have to see if we take the risk of sending him to the Giro. If he has to, he won’t race. We are not going to make the same mistake again.”

evenepoel

 

tdf giro vuelta
Grand Tours Want Extra Wildcard
Race organisers ASO and RCS Sport have asked the UCI for an extra wildcard for the Grand Tours. The World governing body is considering the request and will make a decision at the beginning of February. TuttiBICI reported the news on Wednesday afternoon. According to UCI regulations, the three major tours may have 22 teams on the start line. The nineteen WorldTeams are assured of a place, and the previous season’s best ProTeam, Alpecin-Fenix. Two wildcards remain for the organisers, which are often given to ProTeams from their own country. For example, the ASO handed out the wildcards for the Tour de France to Arkéa Samsic and B&B Hotels-Vital Concept.

If it is up to the ASO and RCS Sport, an extra wildcard would be given out this season in the Grand Tours. The organisers had already been in contact with the UCI about this, which is now processing the request. It will make a decision about this in the first days of February. For that reason, the wildcards for the upcoming Giro d’Italia are still waiting. They may now be announced at the beginning of February, together with the details of the route.

Another invisible ProConti team for the Grand Tours?
tdf20 st6

 

murcia
Vuelta a Murcia is Aiming for a New Date in May
The Vuelta a Murcia will probably be held in May this year. Due to the current health situation in Spain and the Murcia region, the multi-day race cannot take place in February. The organisation hopes to run the event on May 21 and 22.

Organiser Francisco Guzmán previously spoke about a possible relocation of his tour. “The competition will be held on the scheduled dates for the time being, but it is true that the health situation is very serious. We do not rule out that we will request a postponement from the UCI.”

Guzmán has finally decided to postpone the race for three months. The Vuelta a Murcia was on the calendar for 12 and 13 February, but the college of doctors in Murcia has already requested that the region be put in lockdown. They call the situation urgent, given the increase in the number of corona infections in the area in the southeast of Spain.

The organisers must now wait for the green light from the UCI. Guzmán: “It’s a shame, but the situation is very serious. We will now coincide with the Giro d’Italia, but that’s no problem at the moment. It is of course a shame if you have to make such a decision when you have almost finished the preparations.”

The Vuelta a Murcia had the interest of many WorldTour teams. “We have received a request to start from sixteen of the nineteen WorldTour teams,” said Guzmán. The question now is how many teams are still interested in a Vuelta a Murcia in May.

Last year the overall victory went to Xandro Meurisse:
murcia

 


Saudi Tour and Tour of Oman are Missing from UCI Calendar
Several cycling races have already been postponed or canceled in 2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic. The Saudi Tour and the Tour of Oman also seem to be in trouble, as they are missing from the UCI calendar for the 2021 cycling season.

The Saudi Tour was initially scheduled to be held from February 2 to 6, while the Tour of Oman was scheduled for February 9 to 14. The third major stage race in the Middle East, the UAE Tour (21-27 February), will continue as usual for the time being.

Last year the first edition of the “renewed” Saudi Tour was on the program. After five stages, the overall victory went to German sprinter Phil Bauhaus, ahead of Nacer Bouhanni and Rui Costa. For the last edition of the Tour of Oman we have to go back to 2019, since the race was not organised last year either.

Races such as the Tour Down Under, the Tour Colombia 2.1, La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and the Vuelta a San Juan were canceled. Several races in Europe have since been moved.

Saudi Tour’20:
saudi tour

 

catalunya
Six ProTeams Get Wildcards for Volta a Catalunya
The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya has announced which teams can look forward to a wildcard for the next edition (22-28 March). Last year, the race did not run due to the corona virus.

Alpecin-Fenix ​​was already certain of a wildcard for the Spanish WorldTour race. Mathieu van der Poel’s team won the Europe Tour last year and can participate in all WorldTour events in 2021 as a ProTeam.

Arkéa-Samsic (the team of Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil and Nacer Bouhanni), Gazprom-RusVelo (Ilnur Zakarin and Roman Kreuziger), Rally Cycling and the Spanish ProTeams Equipo Kern Pharma and Euskaltel-Euskadi have also received an invitation. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Burgos-BH are not present this year. The last winner of the Volta a Catalunya was Miguel Ángel López in 2019 ahead of Adam Yates and Egan Bernal.

Wildcard teams for the Tour of Catalonia 2021:
Alpecin-Fenix (Bel)
Arkéa-Samsic (Fra)
Gazprom-RusVelo (Rus)
Equipo Kern Pharma (Spa)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)
Rally Cycling (USA).

Catalonia’19 stage 1 to De Gendt:
catalunia

 

deceuninck
Alaphilippe to Start Season at La Provence
The World Champion will make his first outing of the year on home soil, at the four-day stage race.

Julian Alaphilippe is set to kick off his eighth pro season in three weeks’ time at the Tour de la Provence, which will take place between 11-14 February. Created five years ago, the race will once again have a demanding parcours, with the trip up Chalet-Reynard – just a few kilometres from the top of the Mont Ventoux – being the highlight of this sixth edition.

It will be Alaphilippe’s first appearance at La Provence since 2016, the year of the inaugural edition, and the rainbow jersey holder – who later in the month will make his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad debut – is looking forward to racing in front of his countrymen and showing the World Champion jersey he conquered in Italy.

“Winning in Imola was the best moment of last year for me and getting to wear the rainbow jersey for twelve months gives me huge pride. I can’t wait to show it in as many races as possible this season. I’m still recovering after my injury at last November’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, but I have made some important steps since then and I am confident it will be better in the coming weeks.”

“I am excited about racing for the first time this season in France, it should be a nice experience. I took part in the Tour de la Provence a few years ago and I am glad to be back. I like the parcours, but I will go there without any specific goals. The most important thing will be to rebuild the shape, and hopefully Provence will help me do just that before my spring appointments, when I’ll be aiming for some strong results.”

 

cofidis
Elia Viviani Examined for Heart Problems
Elia Viviani prematurely left the Cofidis training camp in Benidorm. The sprinter has been examined for a heart rhythm disorder in the hospital of Ancona, Gazzetta dello Sport reported. When the 31-year-old Italian felt an irregular heartbeat during a training ride last Sunday, he contacted Dr. Roberto Corsetti, a sports doctor specialising in cardiology with whom he already worked during his time at Liquigas.

Corsetti sent Viviani to the hospital of Ancona, where he was examined on Tuesday, January 19. He underwent an electrophysiological examination. This is a minor surgical procedure in which tubes with electrodes are placed in the heart to study the electrical activity of the heart muscle. No research results have yet been published. Viviani would probably be released from hospital on Wednesday.

Viviani looking for answers:
viviani

 

uae
Encouraging News for Ulissi following Cardiac Check-Up
Diego Ulissi and UAE Team Emirates received positive news ahead of the new season with the Italian rider set to be discharged from hospital on 21 January after undergoing a cardiac check-up.

Ulissi underwent an intracardiac ultrasound at the Riuniti Hospital in Ancona, Italy which confirmed a fibrosis of the left posterolateral wall of the heart, the same as already reported in the magnetic resonance. These lesions were found to be very stable and long standing because, despite the electrical and pharmacological stimulation, no arrhythmias have been recorded.

Four biopsies were also performed at the most significant points, the results of which will be analysed in Padua. Based on the results a final decision can be made. The initial prognosis is generally positive and gives hope for a progressive recovery for the Italian rider.

A happy Diego Ulissi:
ulissi

 

ag2r
AG2R Citroën with Naesen and Van Avermaet to Ruta del Sol
The AG2R Citroën team will have Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet in the Ruta del Sol in early February. The Spanish stage race (UCI 2.Pro) will be an important preparatory race for the Belgian leaders in the run-up to the Classics.

In addition to Naesen and Van Avermaet, Alexis Gougeard, Lawrence Naesen and Clément Venturini are also on the shortlist for the French WorldTour team. Venturini will be looking at the sprint stages. AG2R Citroën will have to start with seven riders. Part of the selection of BikeExchange (ex-Mitchelton-Scott) was also presented by the organisation of the Ruta del Sol. Jack Bauer, Chris Juul-Jensen, Nick Schultz, Callum Scotson, Dion Smith and Robert Stannard will be at the start.

The First Three Races for the 2021 Season
François Bidard
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
UAE Tour (21-27 February)

Geoffrey Bouchard
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
UAE Tour (21-27 February)

Lilian Calmejane
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)

Clément Champoussin
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)

Mikaël Cherel
The date of Mikaël Cherel’s return to racing will be communicated at a later date since he is still recovering from a broken collarbone that he sustained in a crash on November 24th.

Benoît Cosnefroy
(Provisional)
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)

Stan Dewulf (Bel)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)

Julien Duval
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Mathias Frank (Sui)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Tony Gallopin
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
UAE TOUR (21-27 February)

Ben Gastauer (Lux)
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February).

Dorian Godon
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)

Alexis Gougeard
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)

Jaakko Hänninen (Fin)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Anthony Jullien
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Bob Jungels (Lux)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)

Lawrence Naesen (Bel)
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)

Oliver Naesen (Bel)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)

Ben O’Connor (Aus)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Trofeo Laigueglia (3 March)

Aurélien Paret-Peintre
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)

Nans Peters
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (19-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)
Faun-Ardèche Classic (28 February)

Nicolas Prodhomme
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
UAE Tour (21-27 February)

Marc Sarreau
GP La Marseillaise (31 January)
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Michael Schär (Sui)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Damien Touze
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)

Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel)
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (27 February)

Andrea Vendrame (Ita)
Tour de la Provence (11-14 February)
UAE Tour (21-27 February)
Strade Bianche (6 March)

Clément Venturini
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (3-7 February)
Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol (17-21 February)
Royal Bernard Drome Classic (27 February)

Larry Warbasse (USA)
Etoile de Bessèges (3-7 February)
Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia (12-13 February)
Clasica de Almeria (14 February)

*Please be aware that this is a provisional list.

Bob Jungels – More of a Leader at AG2R Citroën
In 2021 Bob Jungels will mainly focus on the Ardennes classics and one-week stage races, he told Le Dauphiné. With his new AG2R Citroën team, the 28-year-old is looking for an improvement after the disappointing 2020.

2020 was a lost year for the multiple Luxembourg champion. Jungels hopes to return to his old level with his new team. “I was looking for an opportunity to become the leader in certain races. Vincent Lavenu gave me that opportunity and I am very happy with this role.”

“There are fewer riders here with the same goals as I do,” comparing his current team with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. “In addition, there are not that many riders who have won what I have won. I therefore feel more of a leader at AG2R Citroën. It is now up to me to honour this status.”

The competition in his team mainly comes from Benoît Cosnefroy. “It was really impressive what he showed in the Tour and the Flèche Wallonne last year. He has a great future ahead. It is nice to have such riders in the team.” Jungels said in conversation with the French newspaper that he is aiming for success in the Ardennes classics and one-week stage races. The former winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège also indicated that he will not go for a classification in a Grand Tour and that he will not ride the cobbled classics. He will ride the Tour as training for the Olympic Games. “I am not one of the very best climbers in the peloton and to win a Grand Tour you have to be. In the Tour I am only focusing on stage wins for the time being, although I secretly dream of the yellow jersey in the first week.”

47 hours of training in Denia (Spain)
The AG2R Ciröen team has been training in Denia (Spain) since January 12th and will be there till January 22nd, by which time they will have accumulated 47 hours of training, which adds up to 1,400 kilometres and 22,000 meters of elevation gain.

ag2r

 

israel
Chris Froome Wants to Prove Himself
Chris Froome still wants to add that fifth Tour de France victory to his palmarès. The leader of the Israel Start-Up Nation team said this again in an online team press conference. Froome wants to prove that he is not too old to be able to compete for the final victory in a Grand Tour. “Just look at Valverde,” said Froome.

“After my bad crash, stopping was the easiest option, but that was not the way I wanted to stop. Especially since I now have four Tour victories, and I feel like I’m not finished yet. I would also like to take my fifth overall and continue to compete in the Grand Tours until I feel that I am ready to stop,” said Froome.

The former leader of Team Sky and INEOS Grenadiers does not think he is too old to win the Tour again. He still feels young and sees the sport developing around him. “Just look at Alejandro Valverde. He is in his 40s and still rides in the Grand Tours. He takes part from the front and fights against the best in the world. That’s why I think it’s definitely possible for me. And I would like to prove that.”

In the Tour, he will share the lead with Dan Martin and Michael Woods and compete against teams such as INEOS Grenadiers, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates. “There are some extremely strong teams,” he laughed. “They have dominated the peloton in recent years. And then we have Tadej Pogačar. His team did not race dominantly, but he did win. That was a fantastic achievement. It also gives hope to the smaller teams that such a scenario can also come true. Ultimately it comes down to the strength of the leader.”

Froome is in California, where he is convalescing and preparing for the season. “The most important thing is to physically return to my old level. It is very important to fully recover, which was not the case last year. I am now close to where I want to be to start the season,” said the 35-year-old Briton.

Froome does not want to say anything about his program, because of the uncertainty to which races can continue. “We did make a sketch, but I don’t like to share it. What I can say is that it is a program that builds up to the Tour de France. That is really my main goal for next year. Whether it is realistic that I will win the Tour for the fifth time? My biggest goal is still to get back to one hundred percent of my level. Everything depends on that. Last year I thought I was close to that, but in the race I felt that there was still a lot to do.”

So Froome still aspires to a career on the bike, but as far as he is concerned, he will also stay with Israel Start-Up Nation afterwards. “I see it as a long-term project. I will stay with this team until the end of my career and probably after that. I am really looking forward to that, but first I will have to improve and then I hope to win something again.”

Chris Froome looking for Tour win No.5:
froome israel

 

uae
Tadej Pogačar Will be Working on his Time Trial
Tadej Pogačar managed to turn the Tour de France upside down last year by taking the yellow jersey from countryman Primož Roglič in the time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles. However, the UAE Emirates leader wants to become even better as a time trialist, he said during an online press conference.

Tom Dumoulin and Primož Roglič showed their amazement at the ride of Pogačar at the time. “They made those statements in the heat of the moment. They were disappointed,” said Pogačar. “What I did that day was not that incredible. I had prepared very well for the time trial, had a great day and the bike change also went well.” This year the riders in the Tour will be presented with even more time trial kilometres. “I will therefore also train more on the time trial bike in the coming months,” the 22-year-old Slovenian confirmed. “I hardly did that before.” According to sports director Allan Peiper, his young rider can still improve in terms of aerodynamics. UAE Emirates is also working on a new time trial bike with a view to the Tour de France.

Tadej Pogačar has revealed its preliminary program for 2021. We already knew that the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España were on his agenda. The young UAE Team Emirates Slovenian starts his season in the UAE Tour and then heads to Italy for the Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. Pogačar will also ride the Ardennes hilly classics.

After Tirreno-Adriatico, the Tour de France winner also rides the Tour of the Basque Country in the run-up to the Classics. He then focuses on the Tour via the Critérium du Dauphiné. Between the Tour and the Vuelta, Pogačar will travel to Japan for the Olympic Games. In Tokyo, the young Pogačar will have a tailor-made road race course. The leader of UAE Team Emirates will only compete in WorldTour races in 2021. Initially, he was to start his season in the Challenge Mallorca at the end of January, but the four-day Spanish series has been canceled due to the corona crisis.

Tadej Pogačar 2021 race schedule:
UAE Tour (February 21-27)
Strade Bianche (March 6)
Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16)
Tour of the Basque Country (April 5-10)
Amstel Gold Race (April 18)
Flèche Wallone (21 April)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 25)
Critérium du Dauphiné (May 30-June 6)
Tour de France (June 26-July 18)
Olympics (July 24)
Vuelta a España (August 14-September 5).

Tadej Pogačar – Tour win No.2:
pogacar arc

 

israel
Daniel Martin: “I can learn a lot from a rider like Chris Froome”
Dan Martin will start his fourteenth season as a professional this year, but the Israel Start-Up Nation rider says he can learn a lot from the new team riders Chris Froome and Michael Woods. “These riders share their experience and together we will become a better team.”

The 34-year-old Martin looked ahead to the new cycling season at an online press conference of his team. “I am happy to see that the team is getting stronger. It’s never bad to have better riders around you. That gives confidence. I know I can learn a lot from riders like Froome and Woods.”

“We can all get better,” said Martin. “Ultimately, it is about the results that the team achieves.” The experienced Irishman finished fourth in the Vuelta a España last year, less than three minutes down on overall winner Primož Roglič. He also finished fourth in the Tour of Valencia in 2020 and fifth in Flèche Wallonne.

Michael Woods rode last season for EF Pro Cycling, but will be racing for the Israeli WorldTour team in the coming years. At the press conference, the Canadian climber mainly talked about the Tour de France and the Olympic Games. “Whether the combination is feasible? That depends on the possible quarantine around the Games. If there is a mandatory quarantine, we have to discuss it. But I think the Tour is the right preparation for Tokyo. Especially for me, since I am always good right after a big lap. So I certainly hope to ride the Tour de France,” said Woods, who will also focus on the Ardennes classics in 2021.

Daniel Martin:
vuelta20st17

 

uae
Gaviria Thinks He Should Have had a Better 2021
Fernando Gaviria crossed the line first on six occasions in 2020, but the Colombian still talks of a disappointing season. “I should have performed better last year. I hope to turn the page and turn it even better in 2021,” the sprinter told Revista Mundo Ciclistico.

The sprinter of the UAE Team Emirates won in 2020, among other things, three stages in the Vuelta a San Juan and the Giro della Toscana, but last year it was mainly about the corona virus. Gaviria tested positive for corona twice. The first time was at the beginning of March in the Middle East, the second time at the end of October in the Giro d’Italia. Gaviria spent two weeks in a hospital in Abu Dhabi after his first corona infection, but says he has no permanent corona damage. “I feel very good at the moment. It is great that we could train in the United Arab Emirates. The weather was perfect and so we could train well.”

The 26-year-old rider will once again focus fully on the Giro d’Italia this year. In the Tour de France, UAE Team Emirates is going full-on for a second consecutive overall victory with Tadej Pogačar and Alexander Kristoff is the only sprinter. “I understand completely, they have to defend a title. Then of course you don’t think about sprinting.”

“The Giro d’Italia has no secrets for me anymore. I really want to take the points jersey again this year, as it is one of the biggest victories as a sprinter.” Gaviria starts his season in the UAE Tour. He will also ride Tirreno-Adriatico and several spring Classics.

Burgos’20 stage 2 win for Gaviria:
burgos gaviria

 

header intermarche wanty
Meintjes Wants to Find the Old Feeling
Louis Meintjes is in his first weeks at Intermarché Wanty Gobert. This winter, the climber came from NTT Pro Cycling, where he left after three years. In his new team he especially wants to regain his old feeling.

From the Intermarché Wanty Gobert training camp, Meintjes looks back on last season with mixed feelings. “I can’t say I was satisfied,” he told the media via a video. “It was a difficult season, but there were also a few positive points, such as Tirreno-Adriatico (where he finished 12th) for example. It was not a great year, but given the circumstances it was okay.” After three seasons at Dimension Data and NTT Pro Cycling, he changed teams this winter. “I needed a change and Wanty came across as a great project to me, even now that they have switched to the WorldTour. Belgium is also not a foreign country for me, so that made the step to Wanty a bit easier. I already know the culture a bit.”

In the new season he mainly wants to return to his old level and will receive the support of his team. “In recent years I have always worked hard, but I received little in return. That was not easy. That is why I am not going for a specific result this season. In recent years I felt that if I had the legs, I could still go with the best. Now I need to get even more consistent. I want to start the year well and gain confidence through good results.”

Meintjes starts the season in Spain with the Ruta del Sol, after which Paris-Nice and the Tour of Catalonia are also on his preliminary schedule. Later in the year he would like to ride the Tour de France. “The Tour is not yet certain, because I first have to show that I deserve it. I used to do the Tour-Vuelta combination several times and that often worked out well. Personally, I would also like to ride the Vuelta.”

However, he does not think the Tour course is ideal. “The first week is tough right away and there are many time trial kilometres. It is not an ideal tour for the GC. It will be a challenge that we can accomplish. For me the previous routes were better, but there are still possibilities. A result? If I go to the Tour and I can ride top 10 again, I would be very happy. But if I feel 100%, I can participate and the result is not forthcoming, then I am happy too.”

Incidentally, the Olympic Games are also located between the Tour and the Vuelta. In 2016, in Rio, the South African rode the road race. In the sprint for fourth place with Julian Alaphilippe, Joaquim Rodríguez, Fabio Aru and Andrey Zeits, he finished seventh. He doesn’t look forward to Tokyo yet. “My first goal is to get to the Tour in good shape. After that I could go to Tokyo in good shape, but that would be a bonus.”

Louis Meintjes – A new start:
Louis Meintjes

 

uae
Rui Costa Wants to Miss the Tour de France for the Olympic Road Race
If it is up to Rui Costa, he will not contest the Tour de France this year. The former World champion wants to focus on the Olympic road race this year, he told Spanish website Ciclo21.

The early season plan for Costa includes the Tour of Valencia, Volta ao Algarve, Paris-Nice, Tour of the Basque Country, the Ardennes Classics, Tour de Romandie and the Tour de Switzerland. After that, Costa hopes to become the next Portuguese rider, after Sergio Paulinho in 2004, to win medals in the Olympic road race. The Tour therefore does not fit into his program.

“I will go to the Tour if the team so decides, that possibility cannot be ruled out.” But Costa is clear about his intentions: skipping the Tour for Tokyo. “There are riders who go straight from the Tour to Tokyo to stay in tune, but I prefer to arrive in Japan on time to recover from jet lag and adapt to the circumstances.”

The road race course is an extra challenge for Costa. “The course is very tough. For me, that means maybe I have to be thinner than I’ve ever been,” said the 34-year-old Portuguese rider, who finished 10th in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

No Tour for Costa:
costa

 

bora
Injured Wilco Kelderman
Wilco Kelderman spoke for the first time since his training accident via social media. He says that “under the circumstances” he is doing well.

Kelderman thanks his followers for all the encouraging messages. “Given the circumstances, things are going well. I have to take it easy for a few weeks to let the vertebral fracture heal. One thing I know for sure: I will fight back to come back stronger. Also a speedy recovery to my teammates from BORA-hansgrohe, who were also involved in the accident.”

On Saturday, the third placed finisher in the Giro d’Italia was involved in a training accident with a car. The driver ran into a group of BORA-hansgrohe riders. Kelderman was then taken to hospital together with Rüdiger Selig and Andreas Schillinger. The Dutchman was diagnosed with a concussion and a vertebral fracture.

Update:
Three days after his training accident in Italy, Wilco Kelderman has already completed a first training ride. The BORA-hansgrohe rider rode for half an hour on Zwift.

Wilco Kelderman:
Wilco Kelderman

 

header intermarche wanty
Valerio Piva Ahead of his First Season with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
Valerio Piva was entrusted with the role of sports director of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux for its first year as a World Team, alongside Hilaire Van der Schueren, Steven De Neef, Frédéric Amorison, Jean-Marc Rossignon and Bart Wellens. The man from Lombardia displays an impressive CV, with similar experiences working with T-Mobile, HTC-Columbia, Katusha, BMC Racing and recently CCC. He brought his invaluable knowledge of racing to the riders currently in Alicante (Spain) for a pre-season training camp.

Valerio Piva: “It is a new start for me, indeed, in a new team. What stroke me instantly is the cohesion and team spirit in Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. It almost feels like a family, something I have never experienced before. The core of the team has done an awful lot to get here, to earn the right to be at the start of the most prestigious races, alongside the strongest teams. They have worked extremely hard, and my main focus will be to benefit from that momentum and pursue the progress made.”

“We have to understand that we work together with athletes, yes, but with human beings first and foremost. The most important thing is that they have to feel good where they are. Then, of course, the need to perform and win ought to give them that extra motivation for sure, but I am convinced that we can go further if the mind is fulfilled.”

“I spoke with Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager) and Frederik Veuchelen (Trainer) who daily analyse the numbers the riders produce during tests and training. They are a testament of an excellent form overall, and the majority of them reached personal bests, which can only be a good sign ahead of the new season.”

Valerio Piva:
piva

 

israel
Israel Start-Up Nation Riders Possibly to be Vaccinated in Israel
The riders of the Israel Start-Up Nation team could possibly be vaccinated against the covid-19 virus. Team co-founder, Sylvan Adams, said in a team online press conference: “But we are not going to jump the queue.”

UAE Team Emirates has already been vaccinated at the training camp in the United Arab Emirates. It won’t be that fast at Israel Start-Up Nation. “UAE Team Emirates used the Chinese vaccine, while in Israel we have vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. That is something else. Israel is advanced in population vaccination. Currently, 25 percent already have the vaccine and it is expected that everyone will have been vaccinated twice by the end of March. Then we have group immunity.”

The foreign riders of Israel Start-Up Nation may therefore receive a vaccine. “If vaccines are available, we can think of them for our riders. These are riders who can come to Israel for our next training camp,” Adams said.

“We will consult with the ministry to see whether they are eligible for a vaccination, or maybe even two vaccinations. We are in good contact with the relevant ministries about this.”

ISUN to get vaccine?
froome israel

 


Pim Ligthart and Sven Jonker Join SEG Racing Academy Staff
SEG Racing revealed the arrival of two new staff members. Ex-pro Pim Ligthart becomes the first sports director for the development team, while Sven Jonker succeeds Aike Visbeek as Academy Director.

Ligthart announced the end of his cycling career a few weeks ago, but the 32-year-old remains active in the cycling world. He said in the team’s press release that he is looking forward to his new challenge as a sports director: “I have ridden at the highest level for more than ten years and I am looking forward to passing on my knowledge and experience. I can’t wait to get started with these talents.”

“Pim is the right man in the right place,” says Eelco Berkhout about the appointment of Ligthart. “I’ve known him for over 12 years and we’ve worked together throughout his career. He has a lot of experience. During his career he was already a road captain and coach for young riders. Pim; smart, serious and ambitious; with him and Dries Hollanders we have two team directors who are the perfect teachers in a race.”

Jonker, who has been active in the management of Astana in recent years. “With him we bring in someone with leadership qualities,” says Berkhout about his new Academy Director. “With his experience in management, marketing and PR, he brings something new to our team.”

Jonker in turn says in the communiqué that he is honoured to lead SEG Racing. “I want to build on the foundations that Aike Visbeek and Bart van Haaren have laid. I look forward to partnering with the staff who have the experience to train young talent to the highest level in this wonderful sport.”

Pim Ligthart leading the break in la Vuelta’20 stage 10:
break

 

tormans
Hermans and Verstrynge to Represent Belgium at the Worlds
This Monday, January 18th, Belgian Cycling published the selection of the riders that will compete for the World Championships which will take place on January 30th and 31st in Ostend. Among them are two riders from the Tormans Cross Team: Quinten Hermans will be at the start of the Elite men event and Emiel Verstrynge will compete in the U23 men category.

A great opportunity for Hermans, who will be alongside the designated leader for the Belgian team and favourite for the world title, Wout Van Aert. This season, Hermans a shown great consistency in World Cup races, and got to show his class in the Koppenbergcross early on. This time, Hermans will aim at fulfilling the ambition set by national coach Sven Vanthourenhout, who made victory a clear target.

As far as the U23, Emiel Verstrynge was rewarded for his formidable season at barely 18 years old. His formidable prowesses among the pros, including his 8th spot in Gullegem, 12th place in Bredene or his top 15 in the elite nationals have caught the eye of many. Starting with the coach, who thus offers Verstrynge a new opportunity to express himself and acquire invaluable experience. With him, we will note the presence of Jordan Wyseure, from our development team Tormans-Acrog, who has just celebrated its twentieth birthday.

The route in Ostend promises to be spectacular: sand, as tradition goes along the beach, a bridge of 300 meters which has greatly made the reputation of this parcours of the national championships back in 2017, and an unpredictable weather that may well have a bigger bearing on who becomes victorious. This year more than ever, the World championships will take place in a unique setting, as no fans will be allowed on the side of the road because of the measures in place in Belgium to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Junior race was previously cancelled and will not take place this year.

Quinten Hermans: “My 5th place in the World Cup standings already suggested that I would be there in Ostend, but the official confirmation of a national selection is always a good moment. I am especially pleased that my teammate Emiel Verstrynge, as well as Joran Wyseure from Tormans-Acrog, have also gained the confidence of the national coach. That means that we have done a good job with our young riders. They deserve this selection! At the end of December, Belgian Cycling offered us the opportunity to recon the loop. The beach sand of Ostend is like no other, you cannot even compare it to the sand sections you may find in Koksijde. There you come across loose dune sand, while in Ostend it is rather solid. But of course it is just a matter of finding a good track. I am counting on a good day, like in Dendermonde or Tabor, and I think I can do even better. Lately, I have joined the road team in Spain and the training has been excellent. I really needed this training block to make progress. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks, with Hamme, the World Cup finale and the World Championship on the agenda!”

Emiel Verstrynge: “At the start of the season, I never thought that I could make it to the U23 World Championship selection. After my good Christmas period and excellent Belgian Championship riding with the Elite, my chances grew considerably. I am very satisfied and motivated to defend the Belgian colours so close to home, although it is of course a pity that my fans cannot be there. I feel good in the sand, so I am confident that I can deliver a good performance. We have had a good road and cross training camp with the team in preparation for this important meeting. The World Championships will probably be my only U23 race this season. It is a pity that I did not get the chance to participate in the U23 World Cup and the European Championships. Especially because some extra UCI points could have helped me to get a better starting position. Nevertheless, I can certainly speak of a successful start with the Elite and I am especially happy that I was able to compete every week. The Flandriencross in Hamme is my last stopover towards the World Championship. I’m looking forward to shine in the Belgian Cycling outfit!”

tormans

 

uae
UAE Team Emirates Announce main Protagonists for Grand Tours
Pogačar aims to defend Tour de France title

With the first races of 2021 season getting closer , UAE Team Emirates has announced the first riders to tackle the teams Grand Tour ambitions for the new campaign.

Giro d’Italia: Davide Formolo, Brandon McNulty, Fernando Gaviria
Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar, Marc Hirschi, Alexander Kristoff
Vuelta España: Tadej Pogačar, Matteo Trentin, David De La Cruz

The full line-ups are still to be confirmed and will become clearer as the season progresses.

 

header intermarche wanty
Baptiste Planckaert Postpone Start of Season after Knee Surgery
Baptiste Planckaert will not be able to train for the next few weeks. The Intermarché Wanty Gobert rider had been struggling with knee problems for some time, which kept coming back. So an operation followed last Friday.

Planckaert already had problems with his knee in November. Although he was initially optimistic, the problems kept returning. So the 32-year-old rider went under the knife. “The start of my season is a few months later than expected,” he said via his social media. “Hopefully I can resume my training within three weeks.”

The team released this statement form Baptiste Planckaert: “In November, I hurt my knee against my handlebars, but never I would have imagined that this would be the start of a serious injury. I felt a small problem persisting in the knee area, forcing me to rest. The movement of my knee caused inflammation, making cycling impossible. I was really looking forward to the upcoming season with my new team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. Because of this injury, I can forget about my initial pre-season plans. It is said that I will be sidelined for the entire spring. In the coming weeks, in view of my first bike ride, I will search some distraction and make everything possible to heal as fast and as safely possible. The duration of the rehab is uncertain, but I hope to be back in the saddle within three weeks to start my long build-up.”

Simon Verdonck (Team Doctor): “Initially, we opted for a conservative approach in consultation with Doctor Steven Claes. The pain was persisting, which made surgery the sole option. Dr. Claes performed a prepatellar friction syndrome release with Baptiste last Friday. What that means for Baptiste is that in the first two weeks after surgery, the workload on the right knee must be limited to the absolute minimum. Resuming training on the bike will depend on the evolution of the pain level. Together with the team and the specialist Dr. Steven Claes, we will closely and carefully monitor the situation.”

This winter Planckaert moved from Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles to Intermarché Wanty Gobert, to return to the WorldTour. Planckaert, the winner of the 2019 Bingoal Cycling Cup, signed a contract for two years with Intermarché.

Baptiste Planckaert – Winner in Koln’19:
koln

 


New UCI Agreement Strengthens Eurosport’s Cycling Offering in 2021 for Fans Across Europe

● Additional live rights to premium UCI events come to the Home of Cycling
● Multiple UCI events to be broadcast on Eurosport in 2021 including UCI Road World Championship and UCI Track Cycling World Championship
● Andrew Georgiou: The new agreement with UCI through EBU is testament to our commitment serving the world’s largest community of cycling fans

Eurosport continues to cement its place as the go-to destination for millions of cycling fans across all disciplines in Europe in 2021 after securing a raft of rights to world-class Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) events* from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

The agreement incorporates some of the UCI’s blue-chip events including the UCI Road World Championship, UCI Track Cycling World Championship, UCI Mountain Biking World Championship, BMX World Championship, Urban Cycling World Championship, Cyclo-Cross World Championship** as well as the conclusion of the Cyclo-Cross World Cup** season with exclusive coverage in over 35 markets and territories across Europe***.

In 2021, Eurosport will also screen over 290 days of live men’s and women’s cycling as well as un-matched coverage of the sport’s most prestigious races including every Grand Tour, all five Monuments and over 35 UCI World Tour events screened across Eurosport, Global Cycling Network and Eurosport’s offering on discovery+ in markets where it has been introduced****. In addition, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will see the world’s elite cyclists compete for 22 medals across track and road cycling events over 16 days of top-class competition with every minute live and available to watch only on Discovery’s platforms.

Andrew Georgiou, President, Eurosport and Global Sports Rights & Sports Marketing Solutions, said: “The new UCI agreement secured through EBU is testament to our commitment serving the world’s largest community of cycling fans whether it be through Eurosport or GCN and strengthens Discovery’s ties with the UCI. Discovery is already working closely with the UCI on several initiatives, with Eurosport Events set to be a key partner in delivering the new UCI Track Cycling Champions League competition, due to kick off later this year”

“2021 will be a year to remember for cycling fans and we’re delighted to be able to follow the journeys of the world’s best cyclists year-round across multiple disciplines as they prepare themselves to compete at the Olympic Games. Our heritage in cycling is second to none and whether it be on Eurosport, discovery+ or on GCN for the most passionate cycling fans, Discovery will ensure the broadest audience enjoys a fully immersive experience of hundreds of events, meaning every story will be covered throughout the year.”

This year is already shaping up to be a must-watch year for fans of all cycling disciplines across Europe. It brings even more of the world’s greatest sport to Eurosport’s offer on discovery+****, the new streaming home of Eurosport’s premium unrivalled, premium and locally-relevant multi-sport offering.

Key dates for the diary:
Ends January – UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup
30-31 January – UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship, Oostende, Belgium
17-22 August – UCI BMX World Championship, Arnhem, Netherlands
25-28 August – UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Val di Sole, Italy
18-26 September – UCI Road World Championship, Flanders, Belgium
13-17 October – UCI Track Cycling World Championship, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
TBC – UCI Urban Cycling World Championship

*Agreement covers Europe except France, Denmark, Norway and Sweden
**No Cyclo-cross rights in Belgium in 2021
*** Total exclusivity across Europe except Albania, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, UK
**** Global rollout of discovery+ in Europe begins in 2021 with the U.K. and Ireland, the Nordics, Italy and the Netherlands; distribution partners include Sky in the U.K. and Ireland and TIM in Italy

The UCI Road World Championships will be screened on Eurosport in 2021:
alaphilippe

 

tdf
Shimano Blue for Neutral Support at the Tour de France
With Shimano celebrating it’s centenary year in 2021, the partnership will see the brand leveraging 20 years of neutral support experience and know-how to support all riders in selected A.S.O. races, no matter which drivetrain brand they use, helping them to get their bikes operating at the optimum level. The iconic blue of Shimano will adorn the neutral support cars in all A.S.O. World Tour, Continental and Women’s races, offering all riders assistance to get back on the road as quickly as possible in the event of a crash or mechanical issue.

Taizo Shimano, Executive Vice President said “In the one hundredth year of our existence we are very excited to start a new chapter in our sports history. We are proud to announce a partnership to support the A.S.O.’s events with neutral support. That means we will be providing first-class support to riders at A.S.O. events to get them back on the road and back in the race. Shimano’s role is to inspire people to participate in sports and to keep bicycles running at their best. The vital neutral support role, especially at cycling’s most high-pressurised race – and also at the world’s most-watched sporting event – will allow us to do just that. Working with A.S.O. will allow Shimano to provide more support to the sport and more support to athletes to help them perform at the top level. As a company we take great pride in the quality of work that the thousands of global Shimano dealers carry out. This partnership with A.S.O. is the best example of the service that they provide. Not only do we hope this partnership will inspire a new generation of people to ride their bikes more often, but we hope to inspire people to trust in our product quality.”

Yann Le Moënner – Managing Director of Amaury Sport Organisation: “We are incredibly pleased to have extended our partnership with a player as innovative as Shimano. Partnering up on all of our professional and amateur cycling events with a family business and pioneer in the cycling world testifies to our commitment to offering excellent support to athletes as well as all of the cyclists involved in our events. The innovation and consistent level of excellence provided by the brand over its 100 years of existence make Shimano a crucial player in world and everyday cycling and a brand that we are proud to be associated with.”

Thierry Gouvenou – Head of cycling race organisation department at A.S.O. said “Having Shimano on board is a huge statement about the quality of races we offer. We have complete trust in the Shimano team to deliver a professional service towards teams and riders, as they have been doing for much of their 100-year history.”

Shimano first engagement for A.S.O. this year comes at Paris–Nice starting in Saint-Cyr-l’École on Sunday 7th March 2021.

About Shimano Europe: Founded in 1921, Shimano is dedicated to helping its customers get closer to nature, supporting people to realise their dreams and create new lifestyles. That comes with the desire to create outstanding cycling products and apparel. With almost 100 years’ experience in creating internationally renowned bicycle components, Shimano is proud to have developed products that continue to take countless athletes to victory and provide the means for limitless global bicycle journeys. For more information see www.shimano.com.

Key points:
Ø
Building on their historical La Vuelta partnership, Shimano and A.S.O. now extend their collaboration on Le Tour de France, prestigious classics such as Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, Paris-Tours and also events such as L’Etape du Tour and Roc d’Azur.

Ø Riders in all A.S.O. women’s and men’s races to be supported by Shimano’s world class neutral support team.

 

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