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De Panne - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie pictured during the Driedaagse De Panne cycling race with start in Brugge and finish in De Panne on March 21, 2018 in De Panne, Belgium, 21/03/2018 - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round up Thursday!

The peloton is moving north to hit the Belgian cobbles – EUROTRASH news from Gent-Wevelgem, E3 Harelbeke and De Panne plus the Volta a Catalunya. We talk Sanremo with Bahrain-Merida DS, Alberto Volpi – Top Story. Other cycling news: André Greipel, Petr Vakoc and Scott Thwaites up-dates, Tour of Yorkshire teams, Astana sponsor, Nippo-Vini Fantini join Velon, Giro del Belvedere, Joaquim Rodriguez rides the Cape Epic and you can join the #TheWolfpack Community.

TOP STORY: How Vincenzo Nibali won Milan-Sanremo
Alberto Volpi was the DS in the Bahrain-Merida team car behind Vincenzo Nibali as he took his first victory in ‘La Primavera’ – Milano-Sanremo on Saturday. Thanks to the Associazione Italiana Direttori Sportivi we have some words from Volpi. When Nibali attacked 6,900 meters from the finish line on the Via Roma in Sanremo, Alberto Volpi shouted on the race radio: “Go, if you feel it’s time” and Vincenzo triggered his powerful shot at victory and held off the peloton by a matter of meters at the finish.

Alberto Volpi, how did you launch Vincenzo Nibali towards the triumph?
“First of all he launched himself with the legs of Nibali. As a DS, you light the fuse, but if the gunpowder is wet, you can be the number 1, but nothing happens.”

Tell us about Milan-Sanremo from the team car.
“I will steal the sentence of a politician: ‘A good tailor if he has a good cloth and is not a distracted tailor, can make a good dress’. The good stuff in this case is called Nibali. Winning in Sanremo is not just luck but also a question of tactics and everything must turn in the right way. We had discussed an attack on the Poggio, if it had not gone well it would have been to Sonny Colbrelli. The tactic was this: Free Nibali to go from the Cipressa, but on the Cipressa we did not make a move because we had too strong a head-wind. The other teams also had a wait-and-see tactic. As soon as the race passed the Cipressa and the wind calmed a little, Vincenzo gave me his thoughts on the situation, his form and his thoughts on how to attack. He reassured me that he was fine. He feared Sagan would try before him and so he preferred to anticipate the three times world champion. He saw that another rider had attacked. He chased him and Sagan did not react, as Nibali thought, and then Vincenzo forced on the pedals. A peremptory shot.”

What were the problems for the last kilometers?
“We had two problems to manage from the team car. Manage the last 2 km and 200 meters from Poggio’s base and manage the descent from the Poggio. Nibali made two masterpieces. Attacking at 6,900 meters he made the vacuum, keeping a few seconds of a gap, which still allowed him to manage the advantage, even if it was narrowed. A normal rider would not have kept that little space between him and the group. A race against himself. We feared they could come back from behind and take it back a few hundred meters from the finish line. He has made the race against himself. And he won it. In the end, Sanremo is always decided when there are less than seven kilometers to go to the Via Roma banner.

Our job is still to bring the athlete, in this case Vincenzo Nibali, in optimal conditions. Like Colbrelli, who was supposed to be the man for the Sanremo, he or Vincenzo. Riding a 300-kilometer race, starting in the rain, is not easy. Everyone must know exactly what their tasks are. And every rider in his own department must be a leader. You have to make everything fit in a busy day like the Sanremo, with rain and cold. In 300km of the race you have to know how to dose your strength, teach how to manage the power, give indications from the team car when to be relaxed or when to attack by putting the leader in the group. Remind the riders how to manage the bike gears to get the maximum efficiency from the legs as possible so as not to feel tired, and the collaboration of all the riders in the team’s race, the relationships between teammates is fundamental. Then the difference is still the champion who knows how to manage well. And even more the difference is made by the details. And Nibali is a maniac of details. And on days like Saturday, Nibali’s details made the difference.”

The emotion of a DS?
“Let’s say that I closed 2017 with the stratospheric victory of Nibali at the Giro di Lombardia and I reopened it winning the Milan-Sanremo from the team car. Sanremo brings me luck. In three editions I helping three captains win, Gianni Bugno, Giorgio Furlan and Gabriele Colombo. And twice in the team car, first with Alessandro Petacchi and now with Vincenzo Nibali. Yes, I can say that it is a race that I like.”

Bahrain-Merida DS, Alberto Volpi:
Dubai Tour 2017 - 5th Meraas Stage - Dubai - Dubai - 124 km - 04/02/2017 - Alberto Volpi (Bahrain - Merida) - photo Roberto Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2017

Volta a Catalunya 2018
Alvaro Hodeg is on fire! Brimming with confidence after nailing his first pro victory at the Handzame Classic last week, the 21-year-old made it into the spotlight once again, this time at the Volta a Catalunya in Stage 1, the fourth oldest stage race in the world, where Quick-Step Floors’ sprinter took an undisputed victory in Calella, where he became the first Colombian rider in five years to put his name on the winner’s list at the Spanish event.

The 152.4km loop around Calella was animated by a six-man breakaway who took off after the start and got caught on the first slopes of Port de Collsacreu, a third-category climb averaging 4.7% over three kilometers which didn’t do any damage in the peloton, despite an attack of Wilmar Paredes (Manzana Postobon), who was easily reeled in by an unforgiving pack.

Quick-Step Floors moved to the front with two kilometers to go, on a short downhill section, where Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels ramped up the speed to 65 km/h and stretched the field before peeling off with 800 meters left, when Michael Mørkøv took over and expertly delivered Alvaro Hodeg, who put three bike lengths into runner-up Sam Bennett (Bora-hansgrohe) and nabbed a superb victory, which moved him into the leader’s jersey at the Volta a Catalunya. The fourth Colombian rider in history to top the general classification at the Spanish race and the first neo-pro to grab a WorldTour win this season, Hodeg praised his teammates for their flawless job on Monday afternoon.

See the photo gallery on PeloPics.

Calella - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Alvaro Jose HODEG CHAGUI (Columbia / Team Quick - Step Floors) pictured during 98th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (2.UWT) - stage 1 (152,3KM) - photo Luis/Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors): “The entire team stayed with me and protected me today. On the descent, I was somewhere in the middle of the bunch, but Michael gave me a lot of confidence by telling me to stay calm and pacing me back to the front, where Bob showed an insane power in the last kilometers. Many teams wanted to be there, but thanks to these fantastic guys we were all the time in control, they made the difference today and I thank them for that. It’s a dream come true! Last week I was celebrating my first pro victory, and now I won a World Tour race against many big and more experienced riders. It is really crazy when you think of it. I was strong today and wanted to get the win for this amazing team who had faith in me. The leader’s jersey is a bonus, one which makes me very proud. It’s just the beginning of the week and hopefully other good results will soon come for the Wolfpack.”

2nd, Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe): “What can I say, the team worked really good. I want to thank my teammates for the support the whole day. Due to illness I left Paris – Nice and now I am missing some race kilometers. I felt good today but I hadn’t the legs to go for the victory but I am satisfied with my second place.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 1 Result:
1. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 3:39:31
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors
5. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
9. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
10. Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 3:39:21
2. Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:04
3. Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 0:05
4. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:06
5. Michael Mørkøv (Den) Quick-Step Floors at 0:10
6. Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
9. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
10. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida.

Catalunya stage 1:

On a finish line where Alejandro Valverde took a magnificent solo win three years ago – the long, uphill straight leading to the sports arena of Valls (Tarragona) named by the late Xavi Tondo – Valverde raised his arms victorious again on Tuesday. The Spaniard took the stage win plus the GC lead after only two days following his overall victory in the event last season.

The work by the Telefónica-backed squad over the 175km Stage 2 was again flawless. Erviti, Anacona and Pedrero protected their team leaders against the wind – which caused a delay nearing one hour behind the average timetable scheduled by the organizers – and picked up the pace when things seemed more dangerous for them, even helping out Valverde and Nairo Quintana to take 2 seconds and 1 seconds bonus at the day’s final intermediate sprint. At the decisive climb of Lilla (Cat-2), just 10km from the finish, the rhythm by the Movistar Team and Mitchelton-Scott dropped race leader Álvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) and after lead-outs from Bahrain-Merida and Bora-Hansgrohe, Valverde swooped past Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) and Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe) for the win.

PeloPics photos HERE.

Valls p Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE (Spain / Team Movistar) - Daryl IMPEY (South Africa / Team Mitchelton - Scott) - Jay MCCARTHY (Australia / Team Bora - hansgrohe) pictured during 98th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (2.UWT) stage 2 from Mataró to Valls (175.6KM) - 20-03-2018 - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “We spent the whole day at the front of the bunch because of the strong winds, which could have caused some splits as we saw in previous years. After the break was caught, a window opened for us to go chase the bonus seconds, so we went for them. However, it wasn’t on the team’s plans to aim for the stage win, not at all. It was just that Scott got through the final climb at a really strong pace, and with the bunch strung out and many sprinters dropping, it was easier for us to seek for a good position into the main field – that was where we chose to go for the win. The finish was slightly uphill – I knew it well, and I kept in mind that it was good for me – and the work by José Joaquín from the summit of the climb was phenomenal, he kept me at the front at all times. I’ve won here in Valls with a solo attack, into a sprint… It’s always beautiful to take a victory in this town and make a tribute to our friend Xavi Tondo, one we always remember wherever we go. It’s also a victory for my son Iván, who broke his collarbone last weekend while playing football. I was so sad not to be able to support him at home – hope this victory brings some joy and strength to him. Tomorrow’s stage will be really hard, especially for my team-mates. It’s tough to take the GC lead so early in the race, because you receive a lot from the rest of the team. Hopefully, on roads quite narrower than today’s, as long as we keep the front it should be easier. I already had pressure on my shoulders before this victory, so it doesn’t change really much – it just gives you more confidence to see things going so well. It’s time to ride calm and safely, and do our best!”

2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott): “It was always in the plan to light it up on the last climb. First priority was to keep our general classification ambitions in tact during the crosswind section and then for me to have full support in the end. The boys did an amazing job, Rob really put everyone in the hurt locker and Carlos and Jack delivered me to where I needed to be in the end. I took Valverde’s wheel but had to break after a rider dive bombed into the final corner. I had to make up ground and sprint through some traffic on the right which was ideal but Valverde is a class act and to lose to him is not bad. Like I said, we will keep trying and tomorrow will be an exciting day in the mountains for us. I felt good which is a shame after all the great work the boys did, I am still proud we took the race head on which shows the team has confidence in me.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The boys did an awesome job the whole day. Especially Gregor did a great lead-out for me. I was on the 4th wheel, as we came out of the last corner but unfortunately the sprint was too long for me to go for the victory. Valverde and Impey were able to pass me on the final meters. I am looking forward to help Gregor and Davide in the upcoming mountain stages.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 2 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 4:41:50
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
5. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
6. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. José Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar
8. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) Sky
9. Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
10. Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 2:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 8:21:09
2. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:04
3. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:06
4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:11
5. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida at 0:12
6. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
7. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
8. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9. Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis
10. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky.

Catalunya stage 2:

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) claimed another memorable victory. The Belgian rider successfully finished off a day in the breakaway on Stage 3 of Volta a Catalunya. He managed to hold off an elite group and finished solo in Camprodon. During the stage De Gendt had already conquered the KOM jersey and at the finish he had enough advantage left to take over the overall lead too! It’s the third stage win ever at Volta a Catalunya for De Gendt.

The third stage was shortened due to snow on Vallter 2000, the original finish location. The stage started in Sant Cugat del Vallès and finished after 153 kilometers in Camprodon. There were two official climbs on the route: one of the first category and one of the second category. Perfect for Thomas De Gendt. The Lotto Soudal rider established an early breakaway together with Bizkarra, Chevrier, Mas and Torres. De Gendt was the first to cross the top of Coll de Bracons (1st category), already securing the KOM jersey. He had gone solo on the climb, but Bizkarra and Mas could join him again.

A few kilometers before the second and last climb, with top thirteen kilometres from the finish, De Gendt attacked again. His advantage over the bunch increased up to 2:20 until Mitchelton-Scott raised the pace. Mathias Frank, Thibaut Pinot, Nairo Quintana and Simon Yates attacked from the peloton, reducing the lead of De Gendt to half a minute in the uphill final kilometres. A very strong De Gendt managed to hold them off. At the finish he had twenty seconds advantage left over Simon Yates who finished second and Silvio Herklotz who got third. De Gendt takes over the leader’s jersey from Alejandro Valverde over which he now has 23 seconds lead. Daryl Impey is third overall at 29 seconds.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) crashed with one kilometer to go and could not finish the stage.

You can see more photos on PeloPics.

Valls p Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Thomas DE GENDT (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during 98th Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (2.UWT) stage 3 from Sant Cugat to Camprodón - 20-03-2018 - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal): “The headwind at the end of the stage was lethal, but I survived. The tactics of the GC riders were an advantage for me. Quintana for example stopped pulling in the chasing group. I only had to pedal hard. The closer I got to the finish, the more I wanted to win. The last twenty kilometres were very hard nonetheless. It was only in the last three kilometres that I started to believe that I could win. The road went uphill until one kilometer from the finish and there was that strong headwind. I knew that if someone would attack from the bunch it would soon be over for me, because I had nothing left in the tank. The way I win, is one of the greatest performances of my career. This morning I was twelve seconds behind on GC, just like most of the peloton. At first I kept riding at the front to conquer a place on top ten, even if I would get caught. That’s why I also grabbed bonus seconds along the way. I thought it would be good that our team car would move up in the caravan for tomorrow’s mountain stage. At the end I did start thinking about becoming GC leader. I had no plan for today, but I just felt like joining the breakaway. With the headwind it was actually pretty dumb to be in the break as I had told before the stage. We kept a steady pace, because we knew the bunch wouldn’t let us get further away than three minutes. On the first climb I wanted to take some lead for the descent and that’s why I distanced the others. By crossing the top first I was almost certain of conquering the KOM jersey. It’s always nice to wear a KOM jersey on a race, but it will be a different jersey after all. It’s the third time that I can wear the leader’s jersey in a WorldTour race and that’s something to be proud of. It will be difficult to maintain the leader’s jersey tomorrow, with a summit finish on La Molina. I only have a small lead. As a team we have achieved our goal of winning a stage and we have a nice bonus. I will try to hang on as long as possible tomorrow, but I assume I will lose the jersey. Which wouldn’t be a disgrace considering the riders in this peloton. It will also be difficult to win the KOM jersey here, because there are a lot of points to win tomorrow but as a leader I won’t be allowed to join the breakaway. I’ll see the day after tomorrow what’s still possible in the KOM classification.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 3 Result:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:14:48
2. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:20
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar
6. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7. Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
8. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky
9. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
10. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 3:
1. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 12:34:54
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:23
3. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:29
4. Simon Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:31
6. Jay McCarthy (Aus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:33
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 0:35
8. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
9. Bob Jungels (Lux) Quick-Step Floors
10. Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias.

Catalunya stage 3:

Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne 2018
Despite the race format being changed, Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne continued to attract many important names at the start for the 42nd edition, which began from the beautiful Grote Markt, where the Ronde van Vlaanderen used to start between 1998 and 2016. The 202.4km-long course packed five climbs, including the infamous Kemmelberg, and three cobbled sectors, all of which featured in the first half of the race.

A breakaway comprising six men – Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon), David Boucher (Tarteletto-Isorex), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Ylber Safer (Tarteletto-Isorex) and Brian van Goethem (Roompot) – formed soon after the start and built a nine-minute advantage, which prompted a response from Quick-Step Floors, who sent Dwars door West-Vlaanderen winner Rémi Cavagna at the front of the peloton to control the leaders’ gap.

No splits occurred in the field on the hilly section of the race, but the status quo changed with 66 kilometers to go, as several teams decided to lift the pace in the crosswinds, hoping they will catch some favorites off-guard. Elia Viviani, together with two of his Quick-Step Floors teammates, made the cut, but a lack of collaboration allowed the chasing group to come back, just before entering on the first of the two laps around De Panne.

Ten kilometers from the finish, the pack was down to 50 riders and the escapees close to being reeled in, when a sudden acceleration blew the race apart and left around 15 riders at the front, including three of Quick-Step Floors. Eventually, the race once again came back together in De Panne, where Davide Martinelli, Florian Sénéchal and Maximiliano Richeze controlled the peloton and brought Elia Viviani to the front going into the final bend.

The 29-year-old Italian got himself into the perfect slot, carefully bided his time and waited for his opponents to make the first move, before coming around Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) with 100 meters to go and taking his sixth victory of the year, which makes him one of the few riders to have won at least one race in each month since the start of the season.

De Panne - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  VIVIANI Elia  (ITA)  of Quick - Step Floors celebrates the win in front of ACKERMANN Pascal  (GER)  of Bora - Hansgrohe pictured during the Driedaagse De Panne cycling race with start in Brugge and finish in De Panne on March 21, 2018 in De Panne, Belgium, 21/03/2018   - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors): “It’s my first European victory of the year and it gives me huge joy, as I was disappointed after Milano-Sanremo. When you start as the main favorite, there’s always more pressure, and I’m happy that I finished off my teammates’ fantastic job! It’s also my first Belgian win for a Belgian squad, and that’s also important. This success comes as confirmation of the good form I have been enjoying since the start of the year, in Australia, and then in the Middle East. We proved how strong we are and this bodes really well ahead of our next races.”

2nd, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “Big thanks to the whole team for their efforts today. They really supported me with everything they had, and in the end, it was my turn to finish this off. I am happy with my result, even my timing was maybe not 100%. We can be proud how we presented us as a team on the final lap I think. Of course, it’s about winning, but Viviani is one of the top guys. I had already plenty of good results this season, and if I am able to hold my level, also the first victory will come.”

5th, Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal): “The team has done an excellent job and we were attentive on all the crucial moments. There were two options for this race: or an attack would be successful or it would be a sprint and then it was up to me to aim for victory. We had decided to assess the situation after the hill section. We were very attentive in De Moeren and helped to make the selection. I was too far behind in the last corner. I didn’t have the perfect position to start the sprint and there was some pushing in the run-up to the last hectometres. I wasn’t able to beat Viviani. The third place might still have been possible today, but the victory definitely not. I can’t complain about my condition. It’s just a pity that it didn’t yield me a top result. I normally won’t be riding E3 Harelbeke on Friday. My next race is Ghent-Wevelgem on Sunday, a race that suits me. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne Result:
1. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick – Step Floors in 4:41:08
2. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Hagens Berman Axeon
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7. Roy Jans (Bel) Cibel-Cebon
8. Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis
9. Adam Blythe (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
10. Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini.

De Panne:

Gent-Wevelgem 2018
The WorldTour moves on to the Northern Classics: Gent-Wevelgem is on Saturday, but we have the E3 Harelbeke to wet our appetite on Friday. Some say that the race to Wevelgem is for the sprinters, but the Flemish Classic quite often finishes with a sprint from a small group. The wind, rain and cobbles play a large part in the result.

See the full PEZ Gent-Wevelgem preview HERE.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem
Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Elia Viviani are just some of the riders who’ll take on this weekend’s races.

In the past 25 years, no other team has been as successful as Quick-Step Floors in E3 Harelbeke, one of the most prestigious cobblestone races on the calendar and a good indicator on the riders’ form with one week to go to De Ronde van Vlaanderen. The outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere took five victories at E3 Harelbeke and six other podiums, most recently at the 2017 edition, when Philippe Gilbert came in a close second.

The 2012 World Champion will be again at the start, ready to resume racing six days after a race incident prevented him from getting in the mix in the final kilometers of Milano-Sanremo, the season’s first Monument. Two other riders who have finished on the podium of the Belgian Classic – Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra – will also be part of the Quick-Step Floors team for Friday’s race, which will be completed by Tim Declercq, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal, at his first outing for Quick-Step Floors in a classic.

Starting and finishing in Harelbeke, E3 will take the peloton for a trek into the Flemish Ardennes, where 15 hills will season the 206.1km route and make up for some spectacular racing. Last four of these are the Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat and Tiegemberg, the 1000m-long ascent averaging 6% and topping just 16 kilometers from the finish, which is better known for being the first ever climb used by De Ronde, 98 years ago.

Two days later, Keisse will be replaced by Elia Viviani, the most successful sprinter of 2018. The Italian has clocked up six wins so far, most recent of which came Wednesday, at the Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne, where he got his first European victory of the season. For Viviani, this will be his fourth appearance at Gent-Wevelgem (250.8 kilometers), which this year runs its 80th edition, one that includes no less than 11 climbs, the most iconic being Kemmelberg, a savage hill with 20% maximum gradients and a key strategic point in the race.

“E3 Harelbeke is one of the hardest races in the world, but one without secrets, in which the team tactics will play a major role. We worked hard in the past months to arrive in the best condition for this important time of the year and we want to be up there, not only because it will be a good repetition for Flanders, but also because it’s a very important and beautiful race”, said sports director Tom Steels, a double winner of Gent-Wevelgem in the ‘90s. “Concerning Gent-Wevelgem, everything should be decided on the Kemmelberg, but we could have echelons in the second part of the race, and even earlier, after just 50 kilometers. Everybody will look at us knowing we have options for every scenario and we are aiming for a good result, but we’ll keep our cards close to the chest.”

23.03 Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (BEL) 1.UWT

Tim Declercq (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Florian Sénéchal (FRA), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED)
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

25.03 Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields (BEL) 1.UWT

Tim Declercq (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Florian Sénéchal (FRA), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Elia Viviani (ITA).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Philippe Gilbert:
Dour - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - GILBERT Philippe (BEL) of Quick - Step Floors during the 50th Grand Prix Samyn cycling race with start in Quaregnon and finish in Dour (200 kms) on February 27, 2018 in Namur, Belgium - foto: VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

#PinkArgyle ready for E3 Harelbeke and Gent Wevelgem
Cobbles season continues on Friday as Flanders Classic week opens with E3 Harelbeke. The race sees the peloton barrel into a block of racing up the hellingen of Belgium and over the pavé of northern France.

The EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale team sends a hearty roster to the northern classics of Belgium, with the aim of supporting Sep Vanmarcke and responding to the turmoil of the cobbles. Vanmarcke has already proven his mettle this season with a strong ride for third place at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Joining Vanmarcke at E3 are Matti Breschel, Mitch Docker, Sebastian Langeveld, Taylor Phinney, Tom Scully, and Tom Van Asbroeck. Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem sees a slight change, as Sacha Modolo and Dan McLay replace Docker and Van Asbroeck.

“E3 is a hard and honest race,” said Vanmarcke. “The many hills on a short period make it very hard. The distance from those sections until the finish is still 30-40km, so it’s not easy for attacking on the hills and staying in front. That’s where it gets interesting for sprinters as well. If they can survive, they still have a chance to come back.

“It’s one week before the Tour of Flanders, so you have to be strong in E3,” Vanmarcke added. “The opening weekend was good. Everybody did his job. There is always space for improving, but also, the condition of everybody should be on its best by now, so that should give the extra we need.”

Vanmarcke recently raced Tirreno-Adriatico. He’s spent the last week at home in Anzegem, a few kilometers from the Tour of Flanders course.

“I had a week of recovery and specific training,” said Vanmarcke. “I should be on a good level again.”

For fans, there is no doubt the upcoming races are some of the most special of the season. That translates to the riders, too.

“These races are the most beautiful and interesting races of the year for me,” Vanmarcke said. “Hard, honest, history, drama, and of course — cobbles, which suit me very well. I already have a lot of experience, so I know how to go into the races. For sure, I’m always very excited, but I’m not nervous anymore. Years ago, I sure was. Now it’s just some good tension and focus.”

The races offer another chance for the updated classics squad to ride together ahead of the upcoming monuments and for directors to see how the team is riding together.

“In my opinion we did well at Omloop. But of course, you can always do better if you didn’t win. However, the step from how we performed to get a victory isn’t that big anymore,” sport director Andreas Klier said. “Therefore we will start with the same motivation into the northern classic campaign as we did at Omloop and Kuurne. Obviously, Sep is in good shape and we will see how those races develop. We shouldn’t forget that we have Sacha as a backup, and therefore we are not forced to make an early decision. Let’s see what influence the races, the circuit and the weather will have on tactics.”

Tom Scully enters his second cobbled campaign with the team. In one short year, he’s gone from a new rider to one of Vanmarcke’s trusted cobblestone lieutenants.

“I’m looking at it much the same as last year: eyes wide open and writing the important bits down. I don’t have to look far to find a truckload of experience around me that I can tap into, so I find this is a settling environment,” Scully said. “Already at opening weekend, I’m remembering key moments in the parcours and how our leaders want to be positioned and when. My role is to be there for our leaders, to support them as deep into the race as possible. It feels pretty powerful, looking around the bus, pinning race the numbers on with this classics team. You know the guys beside you and the whole organization behind us riders has worked so hard. Each one of us have a job to do during the race and each of those jobs is crucial for the success of the team. That’s motivating stuff.”

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 E3 Harelbeke:

Matti Breschel (DEN), Mitch Docker (AUS), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tom Scully (NZL), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Directors: Andreas Klier (DEU) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale for 2018 Gent-Wevelgem

Matti Breschel (DEN), Dan McLay (GBR), Sacha Modolo (ITA), Sebastian Langeveld (BLD), Taylor Phinney (USA), Tom Scully (NZL), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).
Sport Directors: Andreas Klier (DEU) and Ken Vanmarcke (BEL).

Sunweb for Gent-Wevelgem
Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef (NED): “Gent Wevelgem takes place in different area to the other Flemish races and is a race where the Kemmel typically plays a crucial role. We tackle the Kemmel two times in the final and in between the passages there are some new gravel sections. This will be the decisive place of the race and we need to come out of these sections with as many numbers as possible to be able to fight for a result from all of the possible scenarios. For this race we have Edward and Michael as our leaders, and a strong team to support our aims of a top result.”

Gent Wevelgem Line-up:
Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Michael Matthews (AUS), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Edward Theuns (BEL).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Edward Theuns:
Meerbeke - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Edward THEUNS (Belgium / Team Sunweb) pictured during the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 a one day cyclingrace WC between Gent and Meerbeke on 24-2-2018 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2018

UAE Team Emirates for Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars door Vlaanderen
UAE Team Emirates will make a strong outing in Belgium in the next days with a team captioned by Alexander Kristoff, who placed fourth in Milano-Sanremo on Saturday.

The team races E3 Harelbeke on Friday, a sort of mini Tour of Flanders over many of the same climbs. And on Sunday, March 25, the sprinters classic Gent-Wevelgem. The first phase ends with the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, March 28.

“We are going in Belgium to do well, I expect some good things from Kristoff, and also from our second line Ben Swift, who was particularly strong in Milano-Sanremo,” said Sports Director Mario Scirea. “Then we will look for some strong efforts from Bystrøm and Consonni, young riders that have the right characteristics for these types of races.”

Alexander Kristoff (Nor), Filippo Ganna (Ita), Ben Swift (GB), Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor), Marco Marcato (Ita), Oliviero Troia (Ita), Simone Consonni (Ita).
Sports Directors: Mario Scirea (Ita), Philippe Mauduit (Fra).

Stijn Vandenbergh: “After racing Milan San-Remo, I feel ready to begin this new period of the Flandrian classics. For me, these are the three most important weeks of the season. The team is really motivated to get a great result after the way the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne played out last month. We have no complexes regarding other teams. In addition to Oliver (Naesen), we have seen that Julien (Duval) is riding well, as are “Bagdo” and Nico Denz. We can also rely on an experienced rider like Tony Gallopin. I hope to start off this first weekend well, coming the week before the Tour of Flanders. I lived in Oudenaarde, and for me that means a lot. One time I came to the finish fighting for the victory (4th in 2014). It is the race of my dreams.”

Van Avermaet Returns to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem as Defending Champion
After claiming an impressive double victory at Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in 2017, Greg Van Avermaet will return to the start line this week eyeing back to back victories on home soil.

Van Avermaet will be supported by an experienced team, including Jürgen Roelandts who has finished in the top ten at both races on numerous occasions, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said. “Greg Van Avermaet is, of course, our outright leader and he is ready to go. Now with only seven riders per team it is harder to control the race and we have to be ready for different scenarios. We will race for Greg but we also have strong riders like Jurgen Roelandts and Stefan Küng who can take opportunities,” Baldato explained. “The parcours for both Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem are more or less the same as previous years so the key moments will be the same. We have a strong team around Greg and we are confident that we can make a nice result this weekend and start the next phase of the classics well. We know he can win these races so we will do everything we can to put him on the podium again.”

After testing his legs in Italy, Greg Van Avermaet is looking forward to racing on his home roads. “There is always pressure because these are some of the most important races of the year for me. I always want to perform well and of course last year was amazing winning Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. This was unexpected and now I’m lining up as defending champion at both of them,” Van Avermaet said. “I hope to do the same again this weekend but it would be nice to have a result in at least one of the races. It will also be important to have a good feeling coming out of the races and to be well prepared before Ronde van Vlaanderen.”

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (23 March)
Rider roster:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).

Gent-Wevelgem (25 March)
Rider roster:

Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Stefan Küng (SUI), Jurgen Roelandts (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).

Greg Van Avermaet:
Kuurne - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) pictured during 70th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne 2018 (1.HC) - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2018

Back to Flanders Classic
It’s back to run on the Flanders’s roads. On Friday the E3, start and finish in Harelbeke after 206km, while on Sunday the Gent-Wevelgem’s 80th edition will be staged. The E3, also called the mini “Ronde van Vlaanderen”, deals with several Flemish “muur” such as the Kapelberg, the Patersberg and, with 38km to go, the Oude Kwaremont. It’s a very selective race that last year saw our Sonny Colbrelli arrived in 7th place.

Gent-Wevelgem is 250km long, of which the first 130 without particular difficulties except the insidious wind coming from the North Sea. The central part is all up and down with the Baneberg and the Kemmelberg with a maximum gradient of 22% and finally the last 30km are on flat roads and therefore a large group is expected to arrive.

Sport director Tristan Hoffman is optimistic: “The team is strong and we have more experience than last year. For the E3, our leader will be Sonny, but keep an eye on Heinrich Haussler who will be our race captain. The Oude Kwaremont will be the crucial point; we will have to be up in the front before this climb. For the Sunday race, I still expect Sonny and Heinrich helped by a team of young people like Per, Pibernik and Cortina and experienced rider like Koren and Bozic.”

Sonny Colbrelli returns to Flanders after the Italian races: “I am finally recovered from the bronchitis that had stopped me at the Tirreno-Adriatico. The 9th place at the Sanremo has confirmed me to be on the right road and the next two races I like very much. In other words, I am leaving convinced that I can do well.”

Heinrich also appeared last Saturday in great form: “I recovered well from the injury and above all I really want to show how much I’m worth. Flemish races are always a great love for me. I’ll be the race captain and I’m sure we will not be inferior to anyone. ”

Bahrain-Merida line-up:
Heinrich Haussler, Borut Bozic, Sonny Corbrelli, Ivan Cortina, David Per, Kristijan Koren and Luka Pibernik.

André Greipel Underwent Collarbone Surgery
Yesterday evening André Greipel successfully underwent surgery of his left collarbone. The unfortunate German crashed Saturday on the descent of the Poggio and is out for the rest of the spring. During the surgery – performed by doctor Toon Claes in Herentals – the complex fracture was fixed with a plate and ten screws.

André Greipel: “Doctor Claes said it was a difficult, but successful operation. The collarbone was broken into different pieces. I already could go home this morning. The upcoming week I need to leave the bike aside and afterwards, depending on the amount of pain I have, I can start riding on the rollers. The next weeks I can’t ride any races, so I try to be patient and not to rush anything.”

“I immediately felt my collarbone was broken. Scans in the hospital of Nice Saturday night confirmed that. As a rider you always hope for a miracle, so you can start in the Classics, but that hope disappeared quickly. The next weeks will be all about rest and rehabilitation and I will come and cheer for the team in one of the races. Unfortunately this is also part of a cyclist’s life.”

“I’m over the first disappointment, but it’s true that I had never climbed Cipressa and Poggio so smoothly. This time it wasn’t the ascent of the Poggio that eliminated me, but the descent. Despite a crash in the first feed zone and a pursuit on Turchino, I felt very good. Between Cipressa and Poggio we were still riding on the first rows of the bunch with five teammates to turn up the Poggio in a perfect position and after the top I still had Jasper De Buyst and Jens Debusschere with me.”

“Of course Nibali’s jump was a huge effort. Hats off to him for making it to the finish with such a headwind! But I would have loved to sprint on the Via Roma. The race was perfect for sprinters, the sun had come out in the last two hours of the race and I had never been in such a good condition for the Classics. But it wasn’t meant to be.”

André Greipel crashed in Milan-Sanremo:
Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Illustration picture of the peloton pictured during Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Petr Vakoc Update
After being hospitalized for several weeks due to a road accident in South Africa where he and teammate Laurens De Plus were clipped by a truck while training, Petr Vakoc has finally returned to his home in Prague for good.

The accident happened at the end of January and left Petr with several broken vertebrae that needed surgery, followed by a long period of complete rest, but since the past week, the 25-year-old Czech began a focused rehabilitation program, which he now looks forward to continue from his home in Prague.

“I can’t tell you how great it is to be back home after such a long time in the hospital, first in South Africa and most recently in Prague, at the Motol University Hospital. Of course, it is tough being sidelined with a view to a long rehabilitation period when all you want is to ride your bike, but I am feeling lucky knowing I will come back again”, Petr said.

“It will take some months before I return to competition, but I am really motivated and it is a great comfort knowing I am in good hands with the team and my family. I have just pedaled for the first time at my home, after hanging a bike from my ceiling and mounting it to a Tacx trainer. I am still not allowed to pedal seated but I am so happy I can start moving the legs and work to get back to the pack!”

Over the next period, Petr will continue his rehabilitation program, which looks to steadily build up his body strength again while limiting stress on the back, followed closely by the local specialists and the team’s medical staff, who confirmed that his physical condition is progressing well. It’s still too early to say exactly when a comeback in full competitive mode can be made but if everything stays on track, Petr and the team hope it will be before the end of the season.

“Since the accident, I have followed the races of my teammates and enjoyed their victories, so now I am even more eager and motivated to be back and do some great cycling races, thus giving you all a show as thanks for all the support and recovery messages I have received since the accident, which have meant a lot to me!”

Petr Vakoc:

Scott Thwaites
Scott Thwaites had an accident whilst out on a training ride.

He sustained several fractures to his vertebral column, but fortunately there were no neurological injuries. He underwent successful spine stabilisation surgery on Tuesday night, without complication. He is currently stable and should be discharged in the coming days. We are continuing to monitor Scott’s condition closely.

Scott Thwaites:

Tour de Yorkshire 2018: Team Selection
With just over six weeks to go until the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire, organizers Welcome to Yorkshire and Amaury Sport Organization have announced a record 40 teams will compete.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity shared the news at Y18 – the UK’s largest tourism event – in Bradford on Wednesday and revealed 20 men’s and women’s teams will be in action, up from 36 in 2017. Of those, 10 teams will be taking part for the very first time.

The men’s race – which takes place between 3-6 May – will include six UCI WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental outfits and six British squads, plus the new Yorkshire-based (although Irish registered) Holdsworth Pro Racing making their debut alongside Astana, Euskadi Basque Country – Murias, Rally Cycling and Vital Concept.

The Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race on 3-4 May also boasts an expanded field. Seven of the 12 top-ranked teams in the world will be in action along with five further European and eight British squads. Of those, Boompods EDCo, Experza-Footlogix, Movistar Team, Parkhotel Valkenburg and Team OnForm are new additions for 2018.

Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “The demand from teams looking to compete in the Tour de Yorkshire is always high and that reflects the esteem in which our race is regarded. Reducing the number of riders per team from eight to seven in the men’s event meant we could invite more squads than ever before, and we also upped the number of women’s teams from 18 to 20 to ensure parity.

“Having the best teams in the business coming to Yorkshire is a massive coup and we’re delighted to have a record number of British-based teams pitting themselves against the world’s finest riders.

“Teams want to compete at the Tour de Yorkshire as they know they will be guaranteed massive crowds, exciting racing and an electric atmosphere.

“Last year 2.2 million spectators lined the route and the fourth edition promises to be the biggest and best one yet.”

The men’s and women’s team line-ups will be finalized in the fortnight before the race with a number of big-name attendees set to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Twenty cycling teams have been selected to take part to the 4th edition of the Tour de Yorkshire which will be held this coming 3-6 May.

6 UCI WorldTour Teams:
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
Team Dimension Data
Team Katusha Alpecin
Team Sky
Team Sunweb

7 Professional Continental Teams:
Aqua Blue Sport
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
Direct Energie
Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij
Euskadi Basque Country – Murias
Rally Cycling
Vital Concept.

6 Continental Teams:
Canyon Eisberg
Holdsworth Pro Racing
JLT Condor
Madison Genesis Team
One Pro Cycling
Vitus Pro Cycling

1 National Team:
Great Britain National Team.

Twenty cycling teams have been selected to take part to the Asda Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race which will be held this coming 3-4 May:

Ale Cipollini
Boels Dolmans Cycling Team
Boompods EDCO NRG
Canyon // Sram Racing
Trek Drops
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope
Hitec Products – Birk Sport
Sport Doltcini – Van Eyck Sport
Movistar Team Women Team
Torelli – Brother
Parkhotel Valekenburg
Storey Racing
Great Britain National Team
Team OnForm
Team Sunweb
Team Jadan Weldtite
Wiggle High5
WNT Rotor Pro Cycling Team

More information on www.letouryorkshire.com

Astana Pro Team and Massigen Expand Partnership
Starting with the day of the first cycling Monument of the season, the famous Milano-Sanremo, Astana Pro Team and the Massigen expand their partnership. As a part of this partnership, Astana riders will wear the cycling pants with Massigen logo at all big Italian races, including the Giro d’Italia as well as at the Tour de France.

“We have a good relationship with the Massigen company for a long time, but now we are happy our collaboration expands wider, beyond the limits of a simple technical partnership. We hope, both sides will gain from this collaboration. From our side I am sure, the products we are getting now and will get in the future, will help Astana Team riders in the process of recovery after the races or trainings,” said general manager Alexandr Vinokurov.

The Massigen will supply the Kazakh team with all kind of massage oils and cremes as well as with the complexes of vitamins and minerals.

“We want to join the best forces to achieve bigger goals on our way. This is the reason we decided to expand our collaboration with Astana Pro Team. Both, our company and Astana we consider that the team is a key factor in reaching the biggest results, so if you work as a team, you will get your goals. Astana is a very strong team of the highest level as well as our company is one of the leaders, so together we can do a lot of good things,” said Cesare Benedetti, the president of Marco Viti Farmaceutici, the titular company of the Massigen brand.

Massigen is a brand, created special for the world of cycling, but later it was developing into a big company both for sports and wellness. The wide range of products is dedicated to a perfect recovery of the athletes as well as to help the sportsmen to conserve all the organism energy for the physical healthiness. Massigen is a brand of Marco Viti Farmaceutici, a pharmaceutical agency founded in 1933 in Lombardy, Italy. Since 2001 Marco Viti entered the group of Zeta Farmaceutici.

NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini is a New Official Partner of Velon
The team and Velon started a collaboration in some races of the 2017 calendar. The partnership is now official, with the aim to bring fans closer to the cycling action and inside the race. The partnership will be active during all the World Tour races of the team calendar and in the innovative Hammer Series format.

NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini & Velon
The Italian-Japanese team has been the first Professional team worldwide to start a first collaboration with Velon during some races of the 2017 season calendar. From the 2018 season the team is officially part of the network of Velon, with the aim to bring fans closer to the action and inside the backstage of a Professional cycling team.

The Partnership
The agreements mean that the teams share in the Velon content position, their riders showcase their race performance with live data and video content, all of which is shared with the organisers, teams, race broadcasters and, most importantly, the fans. The data system shows speed, power (watts), cadence (revolutions per minute) and heart rate as part of the teams’ commitment to opening up the sport and building a fan engagement platform together with Velon, the marketing, media and technology company for pro-road cycling. A partnership between Velon and the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini team that has already started in Ruta del Sol, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico.
The partnership will continue in many important races, such as Milano-Sanremo, the Tour des Fiords (Nor), Hammer Stravanger (Nor), Hammer Limburg (Ndl) and Tour de Suisse (Sui).

The Declaration
The General Manager of the NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini, Francesco Pelosi, declared: “The philosophy and the approach of our team match perfectly with those of Velon. Our common desire is to communicate cycling in a new and innovative way, bringing the fans inside the race and in the backstage of a professional team. For this reason we were the first Italian and professional team worldwide to collaborate with Velon at the beginning of the 2017 season in long-established Italian races and in brand new races such as the Hammer Series and the Tour of Guangxi. Our partnership with Velon, together with other top professional teams, is now official and together we hope we can reach a new public giving the fans always new chances to be inside the race with innovative communications.”

The partnership agreements signed so far for 2018 are with:
NIPPO Vini Fantini Europa Ovini (Italy)
Team Dimension Data (South Africa)
Bardiani CSF (Italy)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spain)
Gazprom-Rusvelo (Russia)
Israel Cycling Academy (Israel)
Team Cofidis (France).

Velon press release HERE.

Giro del Belvedere to celebrate its 80 editions in style
The Italian Cycling Federation President Renato Di Rocco guest of honor at the Easter Monday U23 classic’s vernissage on coming Friday. A special book emphasizes the 80th edition to be held on April 2nd.

The Giro del Belvedere gets ready for the 80th edition’s official vernissage to be held on Friday, March 23rd in Treviso’s nearby. The upcoming U23 International Classic is envisaged in high style: on Monday, April 2nd in Villa di Cordignano (Treviso, Northern Italy) the world cycling’s best prospects will tackle one of the most prestigious races of the season.

Italian Cycling Federation President Renato Di Rocco will be the guest of honor alongside 1983 and 1990 Giro del Belvedere winners, Silvio Martinello and Ivan Gotti, witnessing stories and memories of their early careers.

The event celebrates its 80th edition this year with a special book “Ultima curva a sinistra” (Last turn on the left), written by Valentina Covre, to retrace the history of the Italian race with insights and funny anecdotes.

2018 Giro del Belvedere will line up in Villa di Cordignano 35 teams, with 19 overseas outfits.

Riders in action on the 1993 Giro del Belvedere’s “last turn on the left”

Legendary Cape Epic is on Again!
“Each Cape Epic is an unexpected adventure,” said Joaquim Rodriguez, ambassador of BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team while preparing for the 2018 ABSA Cape Epic. Together with his experienced co-rider, legendary mountain biker Jose Antonio Hermida, he successfully started this year’s edition of a legendary race.

“I had a little more time to prepare this year and I also have a bit more experience in MTB. So I didn’t start from zero, which gives me more confidence and a good feeling,” was optimistic the retired road racing star Joaquim Rodriguez before the start of another spectacular Cape Epic. He added that the combination of mountain biking and gym sessions with a little more emphasis on cardio training proved to be his recipe for success so far.

The team, of course, aims to beat the astonishing 18th position over all that they achieved last year, fighting even for one of the top ten positions. “I am facing this race with more confidence in my riding and knowing that I can perform well from the technical point of view,” continues Rodriguez. “It is hard to make specific predictions because mountain biking is a sport that changes with every kilometer, but one thing is for sure though – we will have a lot of fun. And this is a good guarantee that we will make a good Cape Epic.”

Both riders in BAHRAIN MERIDA jerseys performed well on Sunday’s prologue, conquering the majestic slopes of Table Mountain. But a major part of the total 658 km with 13 530 m of climbing, including four consecutive days of over 100 km, is still ahead of them. Also the final stage will be far from an easy roll to the finish-line, taking riders from Wellington to Val de Vie over a testing 70 km with 2000 m of climbing. The riders will undoubtedly earn that precious finishers medal.

Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team Launches #TheWolfpack Community
With a goal of bringing its fans even closer to the squad, Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team launches a dedicated #TheWolfpack community, offering fans of the team access to content, deals on events and special #TheWolfpack clothing and items before anyone else. The first T-shirts have just landed in the shop and membership is free!

With #TheWolfpack, as visual symbol and nickname, Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team kicked off the 2018 season with a strong narrative, giving name to something that has been in the team for years: a pervasive team spirit and winning mentality.

Three months into the season, the established Belgian cycling team reveals it has bigger plans with the #hashtag, launching a #TheWolfpack community and inviting the Quick-Step Floors supporters from around the world to become part of the squad.

“For us, #TheWolfpack means unity and winning mentality, that is what we stand for. But the spirit lives beyond the team, our fans are part of #TheWolfpack, and with this initiative we want to embrace and give something back to the thousands and thousands of fans from around the world who have become a trademark for our team since its inception in 2003”, said Quick-Step Floors’ CEO Patrick Lefevere.

A new online community – which gives access to unique offers on #TheWolfpack items, new content before anybody else and invitations to special events – has just been launched. Over the season, new clothing and items will be made available to members first.

#TheWolfpack mugs and smartphone cases are ready to be shipped from the Quick-Step Floors’ HQ, and the cool #TheWolfpack T-shirts that Julian Alaphilippe, Bob Jungels and Fernando Gaviria have been modelling for are also made available in the webshop, in a limited first batch. The stickers, which can be seen on the riders’ Specialized bikes this season, will land in the shop soon.

“To be able to give something back to all the fans, who give us tremendous support and play a big part in everything we achieve here, makes me super, super happy. The fans belong to #TheWolfpack and I am sure they will love the great things the team has in mind for them, starting with the cool #TheWolfpack T-shirts”, Philippe Gilbert explained.

“I think everybody knows us as #TheWolfpack since years, long before we put the logo on the jersey and started using the hashtag, because that is how we race, win and act as a team, and our fans can relate to that. They know what the team represents and what they can expect from us year after year. I am proud we can invite all our fans to officially become part of us, of something bigger,” said Bob Jungels, winner of the Giro d’Italia white jersey for the last two consecutive years.

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