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Adnoc School - Abu Dhabi - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - crash val sturz fall Mark CAVENDISH (GBR / Team Dimension Data) pictured during the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour stage 1 from Madinat Zaya to Adnoc School (189KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

Modern car technology halted Mark Cavendish’s Abu Dhabi Tour in the neutralized zone – Top Story. Abu Dhabi Tour stage 1 goes to Alexander Kristoff – result and video. The season proper starts on Saturday in Belgium – Team announcements for Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Other cycling news: Rally Cycling in Phoenix, first win for Polartec-Kometa, Mirza Medal Hat-Trick, Paris-Roubaix news, new kit for Tom Dumoulin and UAE Team Emirates on the road (air). EUROTRASH Thursday coffee time.

TOP STORY: Cav tangles with technology
Five riders crashed in the neutralized zone of Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Wednesday, the worst affected was Dimension Data’s sprinter, Mark Cavendish. He was examined by the race doctor and remounted his bike, but had to abandon the race soon after with concussion and whiplash injury to his neck. Later he was checked over in hospital and there was no serious neck injury, but the team doctor would be monitoring the situation.

It later transpired that the race lead car had stopped due to riders at the rear of the car triggering safety braking system causing the car to stop. The riders behind the official car could not avoid crashing and Cavendish fell on top of another riders bike injuring his neck. One of the race organizers traveling in the car confirmed that “the car braked by itself” and that the organization would be visiting Cavendish to show their regret for the incident.

Bike racing aside, it makes you wonder why the car would stop because something was too close to the rear and how this might not be a good thing in city situations with commuter cyclists and other vehicles. I guess you can switch the option off, but will people pay a lot of money for something they won’t use. Let’s hope this is the last we hear of automatic brake systems causing cycling accidents.

The crash:

Abu Dhabi Tour 2018
Alexander Kristoff claimed his second victory for UAE Team Emirates in Stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour on Wednesday, as he kept his momentum rolling after winning the conclusive stage of the Tour of Oman on Sunday. In the long final straight in Madinat Zayed, he out-sprinted Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) who launched from far out despite the headwind. The Australian took third place and the best young rider jersey while Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) – the very first stage winner of the Abu Dhabi Tour back in 2015, also in Madinat Zayed – settled for second. Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) crashed out as he was involved in a fall in the neutralized zone.

Stage winner and overall leader, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates): “I was quite lucky as I lost my team mates wheel, but I managed to get in the draft and come around in the head-wind to the line. It’s a great win for me and for the team here on home ground. Now we can put the marker down on our home race and it’s a really nice feeling. I’m really proud to win today and to get my second victory of the season. Thanks to all my team-mates and colleagues who helped us achieve it – it’s a great feeling to start off like this in a new team, and to do so in the year of Zayed gives added value to the win, for both the team and the fans.”

3rd on the stage and best young rider Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott): “I felt like I launched my sprint too early. But I was a little bit forced into going early. I didn’t want to hesitate against the headwind because I’d lose all my speed. It was probably about fifty meters earlier than I hoped to have gone but I just had to hit out and try to hold on. It was a little bit too long for me. I’ll come for revenge tomorrow. I feel very good. I must not repeat the same little mistake again.”

Dimension Data team Doctor, Dr Adrian Rotunno on the crash of Mark Cavendish: “Mark sustained a concussion and a whiplash injury after his crash today. Due to the concussion, we were not willing to risk rider safety and the call was made for Mark to stop the race. A serious neck injury has been excluded in hospital. He currently has some concussive symptoms and neck pain, but is otherwise stable. We will monitor Mark’s condition closely going forward.”

Abu Dhabi Tour Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates in 4:48:24
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
5. Daniel McLay (GB) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Michael Bresciani (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
8. Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
9. Rudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal.

Abu Dhabi Tour Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates in 4:48:14
2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 0:04
3. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:06
4. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
5. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
6. Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo at 0:07
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC at 0:09
8. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors at 0:10
9. Daniel McLay (GB) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
10. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida.

Abu Dhabi stage 1:

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Twenty-four hours after the launch of the Quick-Step Floors Pop-up Store, our riders will kick off the Spring Classics campaign.

The Opening Weekend is just around the corner and the big news is that the first of these two spectacular races, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (196 kilometers), comes with a new finale, mirroring the old one of Ronde van Vlaanderen, with the legendary combo of the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg. These will be the last two of the day’s thirteen hills before the finish in Ninove and should prove decisive in the outcome of the race which this year runs its 73rd edition.

A double winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Philippe Gilbert will open his Spring Classics campaign here, knowing that a victory would make him joint record holder, together with four other riders. Niki Terpstra, runner-up three years ago, and Zdenek Stybar will add depth to the seven-man roster and make sure that our squad will not be short of options on Saturday afternoon.

Dries Devenyns, who put on display an impressive form since the start of the season, most recently at the Tour of Oman, Iljo Keisse and Yves Lampaert will also be part of the team, which will be rounded out by Fernando Gaviria; victorious in four races this year, the Colombian will make his first outing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, after getting a taste of the cobbles in his previous seasons with the team at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Gent-Wevelgem.

All the riders selected for the first cobbled classics of the season will be present one day before the start (February 23rd) at the Ring Shopping in Kortrijk, to meet the media (for the pre-race press conference) and fans at the launch of the Quick-Step Floors Pop-up store, our new and exciting project whose goal is to offer cycling aficionados the go-to place during this year’s Spring Classics campaign.

On Sunday, Tim Declercq, Fernando Gaviria, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert, Maximiliano Richeze, Florian Sénéchal and Niki Terpstra will ride the 70th edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, but the roster that will take on the 200km-long race which includes 12 bergs can change depending on what will happen at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Sports director Tom Steels gave a preview of the two cobbled races: “The opening weekend is an important one for many riders, who will come with big expectations, ready to test their condition after the winter training and the first races of the season. Let’s not forget the fans, who too are eager to see the first battles of the year unfold on the cobbles of Omloop. One day later, we’ll get another taste of the cobbles at Kuurne; on paper, it’s an easier race, but it all depends on the weather, because if we have rain, then it won’t come down to a bunch sprint.”

“It will be interesting to ride the new Omloop finale, similar to the one Flanders had until 2011. The new finale is a demanding one, and we’ll just see if it will lead to an open race or make the riders take a more defensive approach. We will be there with many cards, strong guys who have shown a good form these past few weeks; some of them can go from afar, while others can make use of their speed in case it comes down to a small group sprinting for the win. We are confident and really looking forward to these races”, concluded Steels, a winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad back in 1996.

24.02 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite (BEL) 1.UWT

Dries Devenyns (BEL), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

25.02 Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (BEL) 1.HC

Tim Declercq (BEL), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Maximiliano Richeze (ARG), Florian Sénéchal (FRA), Niki Terpstra (NED).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Fernando Gaviria will ride both races:
San Juan - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Fernando Gaviria (COL - Quick Step Floors) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 3 - from San Juan to San Juan (14,4 KM) ITT - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Van Avermaet Ready to Repeat Classics Success at the Opening Weekend
Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet returns to the start line of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this Saturday, 24 February, confident in his form ahead of the opening weekend.

Sports Director Valerio Piva said the team is motivated for the start of the Classics season after a good start to the year. “With Greg Van Avermaet in the team we have a clear leader and a strong captain for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Greg is coming in with good condition as we saw in Oman and he is definitely motivated to win again. We have a very experienced team around Greg and have multiple cards to play depending on the evolution of the race. Jürgen Roelandts showed he is in good condition at the Volta ao Algarve and he will also be a protected rider. We expect Jürgen to be there with Greg in the finale and riders like Stefan Küng and Jempy Drucker can jump in dangerous moves,” Piva explained.

“The course has changed this year and the final part of the race is harder than in previous editions and more suited to Greg. With the Muur and the Bosberg in the final 20km, I think it will be more selective and we will see more attacking. With the defending champion on our team, everyone will be looking at us to control the race and we are not afraid to take responsibility.”

On Sunday, the focus turns to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne which typically favors a bunch sprint Sports Director Klaas Lodewyck said. “Greg will also be our leader for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and although it is more of a sprinter’s race, he has performed well in the past. Alberto Bettiol and Jürgen Roelandts are also lining up and both have showed good form in recent races which gives us different options depending on the situation. Although Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne often finishes in a bunch sprint, the past two years have seen small groups go to the finish so anything can happen and we will be ready to adapt as the race progresses. With the team we have, I think we can finish the weekend with a good result,” Lodewyck said.

Van Avermaet, who won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2016 and 2017, is ready to begin the Classics season on home soil. “I’m really happy that we are now at my first goal of the season and I’m really well prepared. Everything went well up until now so I’m looking forward to trying to win again. The shape is there so I just have to have some luck with the race situation. If everything goes well then I will be there in the finale and hopefully I can win. It’s a nice finish. I also like the one before because I won on it twice but this year it will be harder. It’s the old Tour of Flanders final so it will be cool to race there and putting the Muur and the Bosberg back in a Classic is always a good idea,” Van Avermaet said.

“First of all, my focus is always on Saturday and then Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is always the re-match of the day before. It’s not as hard as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and it’s more of a sprinter’s race but we will see how everything goes first on Saturday. I’m motivated for a good result at both races.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – 24 February
Rider Roster:

Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).
Sports Directors: Valerio Piva (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – 25 February
Rider Roster:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Tom Bohli (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Valerio Piva (ITA).

A repeat win in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for Van Avermaet?
Gent - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakei / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Mannen Elite UCI World Cup Race - photo Davy Rietbergen/Cor Vos © 2017

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad -Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (February 24th-25th)
With Alexis Gougeard (5th in 2016) and Oliver Naesen (7th last year), the AG2R LA MONDIALE team has been present in the top ten of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the past two editions.

Oliver Naesen: “I crashed in the fourth stage of the Ruta Del Sol, and hit my nose, but that does not hinder my breathing. And before that, I was a little sick. That’s never ideal, but I can manage it. And with the first two races of the Belgian calendar, a new season starts for me: the classics! The parcours of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has changed. Now we will borrow the Mur de Grammont, and that suits me well. We have a great team to compete this weekend. Last year, I finished twice in the top ten in these races, and so I think we can be ambitious.”

Bahrain-Merida Ready for the Weekend
At the Belgian opening weekend in Vlaanderen we will have a new chance again to see the seasons’ first and fantastic classic style of racing. Tristan Hoffman, sports director of the Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, noted that this race will be a rehearsal for the whole 2018 classic season, but also with big ambitions upon the last season experience.

The race start is usually very fast in Belgium and the breakaways tend to happen in the first 40 kilometers. It is extremely important to stay focused since such races will again surprise the riders with unforgiving climbs and patches of cobbles. Permanent and good positioning of the team is important and we will fight for it and watch out for Sonny and give all we can for his final solo.

“Our leader will be Sonny Colbrelli, of course who is feeling great, both mentally and physically after his Middle East races and a stage victory at Tour of Dubai We believe he is the ideal choice for classic races like these are. He proved it last season. Sonny feels really comfortable at Belgium Classics and with a huge support of his Belgian “Daytona Fan Club”. We are coming to “Het Nieuwsblad” & Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne” with a strong, very motivated and more experienced team. Most of TBM lineup have been racing in Belgium last season and some before and we are looking forward to see them on the track again and we all hope that we are ready for the great opening weekend in Belgium. Heinrich Haussler is back in our roster and will be back and race again and we will have a late decision after “Het Nieuwsblad” who will he replace,” said Tristan Hoffman, TBM team director.

Luka Pibernik / Borut Božič / Grega Bole / Ivan Cortina / Heinrich Haussler / Sonny Colbrelli / Kristijan Koren / David Per.

Line-ups Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
It’s nearly time for the Belgian opening weekend! The renewed Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday immediately is the first Belgian WorldTour race of 2018. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne (Europe Tour) takes place on Sunday.

Here you find the line-ups of Lotto Soudal for this weekend. Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst and Jelle Wallays will race both the Omloop and Kuurne.

Line-up Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Lars Bak, Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Keukeleire, Lawrence Naesen, Jelle Wallays and Tim Wellens.

Line-up Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne:
Tiesj Benoot, Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Tosh Van der Sande and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Tiesj Benoot will ride both races:
Dusseldorf - Germany - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Bart LEYSEN (Belgium / Sportdirektor Team Lotto Soudal) - Tiesj BENOOT (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during a team reconnaissance of the stage 1 of the 104th edition of the 2017 Tour de France cycling race on June 29, 2017 in Dusseldorf, Germany - foto NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Vanmarcke headlines #PinkArgyle Classics Season Opening Weekend
Sep Vanmarcke leads EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale as it heads into Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the two Belgian races that make up Classics season opening weekend.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad has fans, directors and riders excited due to its new/old finale, which harkens back to older Tour of Flanders finishes, featuring the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg climbs as the closing hills that will inevitably impact the race. The Muur-Kapelmuur, with its cobbled switchbacks and storied history, is one of the sport’s most iconic climbs.

“Omloop is the first important race of the season and the first time on cobbles. The atmosphere is great, and everybody wants to be good. It’s hard, full-gas racing,” Vanmarcke said. “In Valencia and Ruta, the team was riding perfectly together. To me, it feels very different than last year. We were in Spain with a part of the classics team, so we are already used to each other. Others, like Mitch Docker and Tom Scully, I haven’t raced with this year, but they will fit in the system because they are real team players.”

Joining Vanmarcke at Omloop on Saturday are Matti Breschel, Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Sacha Modolo, Logan Owen, and Scully. Modolo, Docker, and Owen are new to the team this year, and Breschel is making a return after a season away. All told, it amounts to a new feel within the classics group.

“We have an interesting group of riders for this years’ northern classics and yes, so far we have seen a few promising efforts,” sport director Andreas Klier said.

A swath of the cobbled classic team recently escorted Modolo to his maiden victory in pink at last week’s Ruta del Sol.

“This year’s edition of Omloop shows us a totally new parcours, which is similar to older versions of the Tour of Flanders,” Klier said. “Obviously, it is a very hard race with most of the difficulties you could possibly find in that area. For us, it is a good indicator to see if our riders did their homework during the off-season, and already now we should be able to see if we are competitive for the upcoming northern classics during March and April.”

Klier, who himself raced Omloop 16 times, has the type of fond memories only a gritty one-day race can spark.

“This is race is all about suffering, often in bad weather, alongside a nervous peloton, but at the end of the day, it is one of the few northern classics with a long tradition and it’s a beauty of a race,” he said.

Saturday promises to be high on suffering in part due to the different route and also the late winter Belgian weather. The temperature is expected to reach a high of only 40 degrees Fahrenheit with a steady, cold wind.

For Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the team stays largely the same, seeing a one-rider swap: Tom Van Asbroeck is in for Logan Owen.

Kuurne is fancied by sprinters due to the flat final 50 kilimeters, though that comes after 12 climbs to open up the race. The last two years, a rider from a breakaway has survived to take the win. The temperature chills off a bit from Saturday, with projections calling for below-freezing temperatures around start time.

The team fosters clear objectives.

“For both races we should aim for a podium spot,” said Klier. “Looking at the contenders I would say this is a difficult goal to reach. But again, I still think that this is realistic, and together as a team we should always reach out for the best possible, right?”

Right, indeed.

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 OHN:

Matti Breschel (DEN), Mitch Docker (AUS), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Sacha Modolo (ITA), Logan Owen (USA), Tom Scully (NZL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Director: Andreas Klier (GER) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 KBK:

Matti Breschel (DEN), Mitch Docker (AUS), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Sacha Modolo (ITA), Tom Scully (NZL), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Director: Andreas Klier (GER) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

Sep Vanmarcke:
Harelbeke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Paterberg - Sep VANMARCKE (Belgium / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) pictured during 60e Record Bank E3 Harelbeke - photo Tim Van Wichelen/Cor Vos © 2017

WGG ready after recon new final, Backaert wants to do better than 11th in 2017
On Wednesday Wanty-Groupe Gobert explored the renewed finale of Omloop het Nieuwsblad (1.WT, 24/02). From Kruishoutem the team rode the last 110 kilometers of the Belgian opening race, with the Muur and Bosberg as the new final chord. On Saturday sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren counts on Frederik Backaert, Yoann Offredo, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Pieter Vanspeybrouck, Wesley Kreder, Tom Devriendt and Dion Smith. Van der Schueren and Backaert (11th last year) look ahead.

Frederik Backaert: “The arrival of de Muur and Bosberg means a less flat final for the Omloop. But with Kruisberg, Taaienberg and Eikenberg a lot of cobbled bergs are missing. I expect BMC and QuickStep on Saturday as the strongest teams. ”

“The wind can split it up earlier, for example at the Haaghoek. After that it is important for me not to go too hard on Berendries, a berg at a stone’s throw from my home. The cold weather does not worry me. I did not suffer on the recon and can also dress appropriately on Saturday. ”

“Last year I was 11th here, this year I aim higher. I want to finish top 10, and who knows what is possible. Dion Smith is one of the team mates that I can count on on Saturday. He gave a strong impression. If he can get used to the cold temperatures after the summer in New Zealand, he should be able to ride a strong final together with, among others, Offredo and me.”

Hilaire Van der Schueren: “I see that the team is well prepared for the Omloop. Everything has gone smoothly since our training camp in Benidorm. The classic team finished a final preparation race in the Algarve past week. We have done everything we can to perform well in the upcoming weekend.”

“The course has changed a few important points: Kokkerelleberg and the new approach to the Molenberg are special and dangerous. The wind will play a big role, especially since they predict head wind on Saturday. I expect a larger group at the foot of De Muur and maybe even a sprint of 25 riders at the finish.”

“I think we have a strong squad for this Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. We have to make good agreements and a division of roles with an eye on the final. I expect Backaert and Offredo to be part of a group that battles for victory. Secretly I would like to achieve top 5 in Omloop.”

“For someone like our New Zealander Dion Smith the recon was extremely important. He could follow the lines of a rider with a lot of experience such as Offredo and keep learning that way.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
The classics season is upon us and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is all set for the Belgian “Opening Weekend”, comprising of the World Tour classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday followed by the UCI 1.HC Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on Sunday.

It is back to the short and sharp cobbled climbs around Oudenaarde in Belgium this weekend, as our African Team is set to tackle the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. At 196km in length, the “Omloop” is set to be a tough challenge once again with no less than 8 pavé sectors and 13 hellingen (climbs) along the course.

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne is another 200km test on some of the toughest roads in the Flanders region. Of the 12 climbs on course, your traditional cycling fans will know of the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed on climbs such as Oude-Kwaremont, Kluisberg and the Tiegemberg. We can expect a full field of classic specialists at both events this weekend and our African Team will have 7 riders ready to challenge for the podium.

In Edvald Boasson Hagen, Julien Vermote, Bernie Eisel and Scott Thwaites, our African Team will look to have strength in numbers when it comes to the race finales. All 4 riders have seen the business end of these races in the past and collectively, the goal will be to finish on the podium. Jay Thomson, Nic Dougall and Ryan Gibbons complete our team this weekend and the South African trio will provide strong support on roads they are all familiar with.

JP Heynderickx – Sport Director: “It is exciting to be part of Opening Weekend this year and be racing a full classics program once again. We have a good team, riders with a lot of experience and knowledge of these roads which is always important for a good result in the Belgian classics. Having Julien in our squad this year gives our classics team a massive boost, so I think you will see a motivated performance from the guys this weekend and naturally we will race to win.”

Edvald Boasson Hagen, Julien Vermote, Bernie Eisel, Scott Thwaites, Jay Thomson, Nic Dougall, Ryan Gibbons.

Rally Cycling Women Set the Standard
The women of Rally Cycling lept into the 2018 season with the same competitive fire they ended the 2017 season with, placing all of their riders in the top 15 on the general classification at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race in Phoenix, AZ. During the three day race, Summer Moak, Gillian Ellsay, and Heidi Franz displayed the meaning of teamwork, sacrificing on the road to help Sara Bergen secure second overall. The selflessness of her teammates was not lost on the Vancouver native.

“Teammates are so critical in bike racing,” said Sara Bergen. “During the road race, my teammates were instrumental in taking pressure off me and allowing me to focus on those key GC riders. Being able to trust and depend on my teammates to share the workload is so awesome. Even more importantly, being able to use the team to put pressure on specific riders is critical when you are outnumbered and trying to make up valuable time.”

In the opening time trial stage, Bergen placed second, 13 seconds down on the winner. Moak came in fifth, Ellsay tenth, and Franz in 13th. After that it was a matter of defending Bergen’s position in the overall while also making a bid for the overall victory.

“The team road excellently together,” said Bergen. “I have 100% trust that my teammates have my back and they know I have theirs. It’s trust and accountability that is the glue that hold the #RallyCats together and what makes this team very special.”

Bergen was impressed with how well the new recruits rode and how quickly the team is gelling.

“I have raced with Gillian in the past so I really know her wheel and racing style. Having this same level of comfort with Summer and Heidi so early in the 2018 season is pretty sweet. It was really fun to be able to play off of each other and go hard after those 13 seconds.”

For Team Director Zach Bell, demonstrating the potential to win is very important this early in the season. “To just miss the top step in a quality field when we are running limited starters shows that there is a good foundation of both ability and teamwork already,” said Bell. “Bergen has picked up where she left off last year. Summer is already showing some of the potential we expected to see down the road and Heidi and Gillian are already making big contributions as frontline pros for the team.”

The women’s next race will be the Chico Stage Race in California, March 16-18.

3 ORTON Beth Ann
4 JACKSON Alison
5 HANSON Lauretta
6 MOAK Summer
7 DRAGOO Allie
8 NEWSOM Emily Joy
9 BUSS Kathryn
10 ELLSAY Gillian
11 HALL Katharine
12 SALAZAR Yareli
13 FRANZ Heidi.

Giuliano Kamberaj – First Win of the Year for Polartec-Kometa
The Italian sprinter Giuliano Kamberaj, enrolled this year at Polartec-Kometa U-23, managed in the second day of the Sanroma Memorial, the first victory of the season for his team, which debuted in this race.

Rafa Diaz Justo, sports director of Polartec-Kometa, highlighted the “great work done by the entire team throughout a very tough stage, with two scoring climbs and another climb only 10 kilometers before the finish. Our goal today was to control the race to try to win the sprint.”

“I am very happy with the work of the whole team, and I would highlight riders like Jorge Pastor and Carlos García, who also were very combative yesterday, as well as Daniele Cantoni and José Antonio García, who suffered a crash in today’s last kilometer when he was going to Giuliano’s wheel facing the end. Luckily, it has not been anything serious. In the end, Giuliano has imposed his speed, in addition to showing his good moment of shape, since a sprinter like him only passes this mountain if he is in top form.”

The protagonist of the day, that with this victory paid the best tribute to the memory of the great sprinter who was the missing Manuel Sanroma, explained that his victory is due “to the work of the entire team. It is a great group in which we all work together, because if it were not like that we would not get anything. Yesterday we made a mistake, but today we controlled the whole race and we managed to get through, despite I had problems because I could not see where the finish was and I waited for the last 50 meters to sprint.”

Kamberaj, born in Albania but based in Italy, highlighted the change experienced when arriving at Polartec-Kometa. “This year I have a team that supports me, we prepare all together and we have a great coach and a staff that is always at our side. That makes the difference.”

The next race of Polartec-Kometa U23 will be the Circuito del Guadiana, in Don Benito (Extremadura), where the Polartec-Kometa junior will make his debut.

Mirza Completes Medal Hat-Trick As Emirati takes Another Gold in Asia
UAE Team Emirates’ Yousif Mirza completed a momentous hat-trick of medal wins after capturing the continental title in the points race at the Asian Track Cycling Championships in Malaysia, and in doing so, becomes the first ever Emirati rider to take home gold in an international track cycling series. The recently crowned Asian Road Cycling Champion and the Omnium Track Cycling silver medallist was competing on behalf of the UAE National Team, ahead of re-joining UAE Team Emirates to continue his UCI World Tour season.

Commenting on his historic achievement, Mirza said; “For me it’s a reward for all the hard work and sacrifice I’ve put in on my bike since I was a kid. Words cannot describe how proud I am right now. I was already very happy because of the fantastic second place I earned in the omnium on Sunday, but my mind was concentrating on the points race. I wanted to enjoy the feeling of winning a gold medal, the same feeling I had when I won the Asian Road Racing Championships. Today I felt really strong and I was able to achieve the best result. I’m breaking the boundaries of cycling in the United Arab Emirates and proving that anything is possible. This is the first gold for my country in an international track cycling series and I hope it will be a turning point that inspires lots of kids to take up the sport. These results mean even more for my country now, since they come in the year of Zayed.”

2018 Paris–Roubaix: A Treat for Cobble-Gobblers
The highlights of the season already loom on the horizon. After spending the winter training hard to prepare for their objectives, the majority of riders who make up the international peloton have already kicked off the season under the sunny skies of Australia, South America, the Middle East or Spain. Some are racking up race miles with their sights firmly set on the cobbled classics, where the main course will be served to the cobble-gobblers between Compiègne and Roubaix on 8 April. The riders will hit the first cobbled sectors after reaching Troisvilles, barely 100 kilometers into the race. The amount of cobblestones is a shade lower than last year, but still more than enough to deal serious damage. These cobbled sectors will total 54.5 km (versus 55 km in 2017), compared with an average of 52.58 km for the last ten editions.

For many years, the organizers of Paris–Roubaix have done their bit to discover and preserve these extraordinary roads, which guarantee a spectacular show on the day of the race and, even more importantly, give the landscapes of the region a special flavor. The course changes for the 2018 edition affect the 30 kilometers after Troisvilles. The Saint-Python sector is back after a year on ice, but the riders will tackle it in the opposite direction this time round. Another new sector, this one stretching for 1,500 m between Saint-Hilaire and Saint-Vaast, will push the riders harder shortly afterwards. These new changes are not expected to play a decisive role in the outcome of Paris–Roubaix, as the big stars usually keep their powder dry until the final 100 kilometers.

Key points:
The course of the 2018 edition will stretch for 257 km and feature no fewer than 29 cobblestone sectors totaling 54.5 km.
Ø The pre-race parade in Compiègne will take the peloton through the Glade of the Armistice, where the armistice that ended World War I was signed on 11 November 1918.
Ø A brand-new sector will be added to the course in Cambrésis, near the start of the grueling part of the race. However, the decisive moments will come later, with the Trouée d’Arenberg, the Mons-en-Pévèle sector and, finally, the Carrefour de l’Arbre, with the Roubaix Velodrome tantalizingly close!

Team Sunweb Unveil Tom Dumoulin’s Rainbow Kit
Following on from the revelation of their national jerseys, Team Sunweb are pleased to present their rainbow kit that will proudly showcase Tom Dumoulin’s world time trial champion title during the 2018 season.

In their quest for technological advancement, Team Sunweb and their partners Delft University of Technology and DSM, continually invest in product development, wind tunnel testing, bike fitting and data analysis. This strive for improvement has resulted in a high tech, aerodynamic rainbow time trial suit manufactured by Etxeondo.

Individual world time trial champion, Tom Dumoulin, who debuts the world champion kit in the individual time trial at the Abu Dhabi Tour, said: “I am very proud of what I have achieved and to have the opportunity to wear the rainbow jersey for this year is something very special to me.”

With the presentation of the 2018 suit, Team Sunweb continue their call for progression and remain committed to creating a healthy and fair position for riders and their teams. As those who bring the sport alive for fans, riders and their teams deserve a fair and genuine voice in decision-making and the future economical perspective, holding firm their belief that this should be equally balanced with the interests of other stakeholders in the sport.

The protection of the look and feel of the team’s identity versus a growing number of mandatory jerseys, rider’s safety and stability for riders and teams are examples, alongside many more important decisions potentially impacting the future of teams and their riders, of which they deserve a fair voice. The team appreciates the dialogue with the UCI about this subject.

“I fully support the team’s efforts to improve our position as riders and as a team,” Dumoulin said. “The kit looks really great and is balanced, I will certainly wear it with pride this year.”

Tom Dumoulin will also debut his Giant Trinity Advanced Pro time trial machine with an updated rainbow color scheme to match his new Etxeondo kit.

Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 - 20/02/2018 - Tom Dumoulin (NED - Team Sunweb) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos ©2018

A Glimpse Behind our Travels
How important it is to have a good rest as part of the training for a Pro Rider? Come with us to get a glimpse behind our travels on Emirates.

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