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Ronde van Spanje (Vuelta) Bejar-Avilla, 19e etappe, foto Cor Vos ©2002 Sfeer

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

The 2019 Vuelta a España starts on Saturday and we have all the team news from Spain. Will the Giro d’Italia climb Mount Etna on gravel roads? – Top Story. Race reports and results from the Tour of Denmark, Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic and GP Stad Zottegem. In other cycling news: Tour of Britain riders, rider contracts and transfers, gravel racing in New Zealand and Bianchi’s final tribute to Felice Gimondi. Viva la Vuelta!

TOP STORY: Giro d’Italia to climb Etna?
“Mountain time trial to 2850 metres altitude on the gravel slopes of Etna technically feasible”

In 2010 the Giro d’Italia had a mountain time trial on unpaved roads up the Kronplatz, now a second mountain time trial on gravel roads seems to be on the Giro menu. According to Meridionews, volcanologist Marco Neri says that an uphill time trial on Mount Etna is technically possible. The riders could climb a 27 kilometre chrono to 2850 meters above sea level, with the final 8.7 kilometres of the climb on a dirt road.

With the exception of the Giro’19 start in Hungary, little is officially known about the route of the 103rd Tour of Italy. But it is very likely that the pink Tour will visit Sicily again next year. For Sicily – which may host the Grande Partenza in 2021 – three stages are on the program. Capo d’Orlando and Palermo are mentioned as places where the race will pass, and there is also rumour that there will be a finish on Mount Etna.

The Etna stage should be a very special climb according to the Sicilian newspaper. The volcano has been used several times in the past as a finish in the Tour of Italy, but ‘only’ toping out at 1736 meters. For the time being, the Passo dello Stelvio (2757 meters above sea level) is the highest climb in a Grand Tour, but if it was up to Sicily, that would change.

The TT route is to be presented to Giro organiser, RCS Sport, will be 27 kilometres long with the finish line at 2850 metres with the last 8.7 kilometres on rough road with ramps of 22%. The volcanologist Marco Neri, researcher at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania said: “from a volcano logic point of view it is technically feasible.”

“If there is no volcanic activity, the route along the northeastern rift can be considered safe,” he wrote in a detailed report. “This road has been used for decades to bring tens of thousands of tourists to the top of the volcano every year.” The last eruption there was in 2002. Neri also indicates that clear signals precede any eruptions, so an alternative route could be found in time if an eruption was likely.

Giro’18 heading for Etna:

PostNord Danmark Rundt – Tour of Denmark 2019
Lotto Soudal rider Tiesj Benoot finished off an impressive display of teamwork during the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark today. In a lumpy stage, which was originally marked as one for the sprinters, a seven-rider group escaped on the final ascent of the day, at five kilometres from the finish. Both Lotto Soudal riders Tiesj Benoot and Jasper De Buyst were part of that move. As the front group approached the final kilometre, it was Tiesj Benoot who went to the front and created a gap, teammate De Buyst played it out perfectly. Benoot persisted in his effort, finished solo in Silkeborg and delivered Lotto Soudal its twentieth victory of the season. Jasper De Buyst made it a one-two for Lotto Soudal as he won the sprint for second place moments later. Benoot also leads the general classification following his impressive stage win. Tomorrow, the 25-year-old Belgian will be the last rider to roll down the start ramp in the 17 kilometres long time trial.

Stage winner and overall leader, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal): “Of course, it is a nice feeling to be able to win today. The team was really strong, even though we are only with six riders. Everybody did his part in my victory today. We knew beforehand that the local laps in Silkeborg would be quite tricky. Yesterday, we did a recon of the local circuit and that is when we decided that we would try to attack today. Already on the gravel section, at about fifty kilometres from the finish, we took the initiative ourselves to make the race harder, because it would be difficult to beat a rider like Merlier in the sprint. With Jasper De Buyst, I had the perfect teammate alongside me in the breakaway, everybody looked at him, so I could take advantage of that. When I rode to the front at one and a half kilometres to go, I had a gap without attacking. And that is what Jasper De Buyst also shouted through the radio. When you have such a gap so close to the line, you can’t hesitate for a second. I went full gas until the finish and that was enough to take the victory. Of course, I want to keep the leader’s jersey. Tomorrow’s time trial is flat, so there won’t be any tactics involved. It will be about giving it all from start to finish. The course is not my favourite one, but if you want to do well in stage races of one week, you need to manage that discipline. There are still some nice stages to come this week. Friday’s stage to Velje immediately crosses my mind, in which I finished third in 2014, riding for the team as a stagiaire. But also for the other guys, there will still be chances the coming days.”

PostNord Danmark Rundt – Tour of Denmark 2019
1. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:54:48
2. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
3. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Niklas Larsen (Den) Team Coloquick
5. Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
6. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
7. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Denmark
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) Corendon-Circus at 0:04
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels
10. Herman Dahl (Now) Joker Fuel of Norway

PostNord Danmark Rundt – Tour of Denmark Overall After Stage 1:
1. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 3:54:48
2. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:04
3. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 0:06
4. Niklas Larsen (Den) Team Coloquick at 0:10
5. Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
6. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
7. Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Denmark
8. Torstein Traeen (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team at 0:11
9. Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor) Uno-X Norwegian Development Team at 0:12
10. Tim Merlier (Bel) Corendon-Circus at 0:14.

Denmark’19 stage 1:

Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic 2019
Zakkari Dempster (Israel Cycling Academy) won the Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic on Wednesday. The Israel Cycling Academy rider was part of a large leading group that formed 110 kilometres from the finish line. Dempster, Martijn Budding and Nick van der Lijke held off the others to the finish in Veenendaal.

It was a nervous peloton that rode the first hours of the race as no early escape was given the full blessing of the peloton. Nils Sinschek, Rick van Breda, Marijn van den Berg, Alex Paton, Justin Mottier, René Hooghiemster, Daniel Abraham Gebru tried, but couldn’t stay clear after 80 kilometres. Not long afterwards, 14 riders managed to escape the peloton. These riders had a serious chance of staying away.

Sprinters such as Arvid de Kleijn and Wouter Wippert were in the leading group, also Israel Cycling Academy had Dempster and August Jensen, BEAT with Martijn Budding and Piotr Havik and Roompot-Charles had Nick van der Lijke and Oscar Riesebeek. Arne Peters (Alecto), Sven Burger (SEG), Adriaan Janssen and Martins Pluto (Monkey Town-à-Bloc), Clément Russo (Arkéa Samsic), Alex Paton (Canyon) and Nils Sinschek (Sunweb Development) completed the leading group with 75 kilometres to go, had a 2 minute lead on the peloton.

The 14 out front rode hard, which caused Paton to be dropped. The remaining 13 started the final lap of 40 kilometres with an increasingly reassuring lead of 3:30. On the last lap, the cooperation disappeared, as the peloton came closer and closer under the leadership of Vital Concept. After the last passage of the Grebbeberg, 20 kilometres from the finish, the front riders had less than 2 minutes.

In the last 10 kilometres the leaders started to play poker the victory with failed escapes, until Dempster, Van der Lijke and Budding succeeded and they soon had a lead of 25 seconds. Burger tried to cross, but could not reach the leading group. In Veenendaal, Dempster had the fastest sprint.

Race winner, Zakkari Dempster (Israel Cycling Academy): “I don’t win that much, so it’s good to finally win. Yesterday I was close, but I am so happy that I was able to win today. A lot has to come together to take a victory. The races like this are good for us [the Israel Cycling Academy]. We have several cards to complete the game and we are in good shape, so it is important that we do not race monodimensally. It is difficult to explain how it went. You feel those moments. There were many attacks and each time small groups rode away. I felt it was time to go and we worked well together. I started the sprint fairly sneaky at 500 meters from the line, after which I won. I’m sure of it!”

Veenendaal-Veenendaal Classic Result:
1. Zak Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy in 4:11:38
2. Martijn Budding (Ned) BEAT Cycling Club
3. Nick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Charles
4. Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Charles at 0:09
5. Sven Burger (Ned) SEG Racing Academy
6. Piotr Havik (Ned) BEAT Cycling Club at 0:13
7. Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Metec-TKH Continental Cyclingteam p/b Mantel at 0:19
8. August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy
9. Adriaan Janssen (Ned) Monkey Town-à Bloc C at 0:22
10. Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles at 0:28.

Veenendaal’19 podium:

GP Stad Zottegem 2019
In Zottegem, Belgium, Piotr Havik has won the first professional race of his career. This also means the first professional victory for the BEAT Cycling Club road team. After a tough race Havik reached the finish line on his own, few seconds in front of Andre Greipel (Arkéa Samsic) and the peloton. With this victory, Havik tops the successful season of the BEAT road team with the most important road victory in the history of the club.

The first kilometres of the race were extremely nervous, but all escapees were caught within the first 20 kilometres. A crash split the peloton in several pieces, which led to the formation of a 35 riders leading group. Piotr Havik represented BEAT in this group, which was led by the ProContinental teams Wanty-Gobert, Corendon-Circus and Israel Cycling Academy. André Greipel was another favourite present in the lead group.

In the final the first attack was launched by Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert), who was riding a home race. The Belgian rider quickly saw his attack come to an end. A more impressive attack was launched by Gianni Vermeersch (Corendon-Circus), Zak Dempster (Israel Cycling Academy) and Benoit Jarrier (Arkéa Samsic). On the cobbles, Benoit Jarrier quickly had to let go his fellow escapees while Havik was torturing the members of the following group.

Just before the end of the cobble street, Havik managed to get away from his group. He quickly made the jump to the two remaining leaders. Vermeersch stuck to Havik’s wheel, but another attack by the dutchman, one kilometre away from the finish line, was too much for him. Havik flew through the final kilometre, straightened his jersey and raised his hands in the sky. Four seconds later, André Greipel passed the finish line in second place.

Race winner, Piotr Havik (BEAT): “The final cobble section caused an immense chaos. Our luck was the fact that Greipel still was in the following group. Nobody dared to get us back if that meant that they would ride to the finish with him. Three years ago, I started riding for this team. I’ve always gotten the chance to slowly grow and improve as a rider. I’m very happy to now get the honour of celebrating the first 1.1 victory with BEAT Cycling Club.”

BEAT DS, Egon van Kessel: “We rode a perfect race today, of course because of Piotr’s amazing legs. I can think of all sorts of tactics, but in the end the riders have to do the work. Piotr rode very smart and patient. I did not think he would manage to lose Gianni Vermeersch in the end, but he did. That shows how strong Piotr is, and at what level he can ride.”

GP Stad Zottegem Result:
1. Piotr Havik (Ned) BEAT Cycling Club in 4:30:32
2. André Greipel (Ger) Arkéa Samsic at 0:04
3. Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Joeri Stallaert (Bel) Corendon-Circus
5. Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
6. Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Corendon-Circus
7. Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy
8. Aksel Nõmmela (Est) Wallonie-Bruxelles
9. Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
10. Cyrille Thièry (Sui) Swiss Racing Academy.

Zottegem’19 podium:

Vuelta a España 2019
World Champion Alejandro Valverde will Wear Number 1
The brilliant world champion, Alejandro Valverde, will be honoured in La Vuelta 19 by wearing bib number 1. The 22 teams that will commence the 74th edition of La Vuelta on the 24th of August at the Salinas de Torrevieja have already submitted their pre-registration forms to the organisation.

Alejandro Valverde won La Vuelta ten years ago. This year, he will start La Vuelta 19 as one of the three ex-winners of the race competing for a new title, along with Fabio Aru (2015) and Nairo Quintana (2016). The Movistar Team has a solid team – with several possible leaders in its midst – among them, the Giro 2019 winner, (Richard Carapaz) and the winner of the Paris-Nice 2018 (Marc Soler) as spearheads. They will ride supervised by an elite duo consisting of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana.

The Spanish Grand Tour’s 74th edition will also have an important list of South-American candidates with options to win the race: Miguel Ángel López (Astana Pro Team), 3rd in 2018; Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), 3rd in 2016 and the potent EF Education First trident formed by the young Daniel Martínez and Sergio Higuita, who will ride with the experienced rider, Rigoberto Urán.

On paper, Movistar Team’s main threat came from Jumbo-Visma, represented by Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruijswijk, third in the last editions of the Giro and the Tour, respectively. On flat stages, they will be protected by Tony Martin and in the mountains by George Bennett, Robert Gesink and Sepp Kuss.

Jakob Fuglsang, winner of the last editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and of the Critérium du Dauphiné, had to abandon the last Tour de France due to a fall, and is now seen as Astana’s second card to play. Rafal Majka, 3rd in La Vuelta 15, returns with Bora-Hansgrohe accompanied by the Austrian Tour of Turkey winner (Felix Großschartner). Wilco Kelderman will lead Team Sunweb. Pierre Latour, best young rider in the Tour de France 2018 and practically absent this season following a long convalescence, will lead AG2R-La Mondiale. The Team Ineos opts for the British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart, who will have the opportunity to recoup following his Giro fall.

Tireless rouleur and stage winner in the three Grand Tours, Thomas De Gendt, prepares to face his 3rd three-week race this season following a spectacular stage win in Saint-Étienne in this past Tour de France

Highlights among the sprinters are Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ), Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) and the champion from the Netherlands Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck-Quick Step).

Last, but by no means least, is the presence of the Slovenian diamond in the rough, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), winner of last year’s Tour de l’Avenir and the Tour of California this season. La Vuelta 19 will be the first grand tour for this promising rider.

World champion Alejandro Valverde – 2019 Vuelta a España No.1:

Movistar Team Announces La Vuelta Squad
Eusebio Unzué’s outfit to take Torrevieja’s start (Saturday 24th) with two previous winners of the race (Valverde and Quintana), as well as Giro d’Italia victor Richard Carapaz, in the final Grand Tour of 2019.

The Movistar Team confirmed on Monday its eight-man lineup for the 74th edition of the Vuelta a España (Saturday 24th August – Sunday 15th September). The squad managed by Eusebio Unzué will take the start in the Alicante province with a lineup composed by Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, Richard Carapaz, Marc Soler, Imanol Erviti, Nelson Oliveira, Jorge Arcas and Antonio Pedrero.

José Luis Arrieta and Pablo Lastras will be the sports directors of the Blue squad, which will fulfil in 2019 its 40th consecutive appearance in the Vuelta since 1980. In all this time since their debut under Reynolds’ sponsorship, the Abarca Sports organisation has notched up four overall victories, 12 podium finishes, 61 stage wins and 10 team GC triumphs (Stats).

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA Line Up a Strong team for their eight consecutive Vuelta
Once again, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA looks forward to its main sporting challenge of the season: the Tour of Spain. The team has not missed this race since 2012, showing combativeness and attitude in each of their participations.

However, the green squad does not want to lose their hallmarks for their eighth consecutive Vuelta, with a young and strong lineup and many riders formed in the elite and sub 23 team. Of the eight cyclists who make up the alignment, three count 24 years or less. The most veteran will be Pardilla, who faces his sixth Tour of Spain aged 35. However, the staff has not had it easy to select the eight men for the great Spanish round, leaving out riders who have shown very good level in recent weeks.

The line up of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA for the Vuelta 2019 comprise: Jon Aberasturi, Álex Aranburu, Sergei Chernetskii, Domingos Gonçalves, Jonathan Lastra, Sergio Pardilla Cristian Rodríguez and Gonzalo Serrano.

Three riders have passed through the feeder team of the Professional-Continental squad (Lastra, Rodríguez and Serrano). Furthermore, the 2019 edition means the debut in this race for two of them: Gonçalves and Serrano.

José Miguel Fernández (sports director): “We arrive with our eight most qualified riders to face a race like La Vuelta a España. It is a very compensated team to try to perform well in all areas. On the one hand, we have Aberasturi or Aranburu, who have proven to be at a very high level In the last Tour of Burgos. Jon is a purer sprinter, while Alex is better at the finals with more demanding climb. On the other hand, Lastra, Serrano, Chernetskii or Gonçalves will take care of give us presence in those breaks that may reach and will reach the finish line. Finally, Cristian and Pardilla are our climbers, which will surely shine in the mountain stages.”

“We have a plus of confidence thanks to the performance in Vuelta Burgos. The Vuelta is a very different and much more demanding race than Burgos, but these last results always make us dream a little stronger with a stage victory in La Vuelta a España This will be the main objective for us and we will fight every day, without forgetting that we must be protagonists as much as possible.”

The mountain marks again the route of la Vuelta
Unipublic has opted another season for a spectacular route that begins Saturday 24th with a team time trial in the Salinas de Torrevieja (Alicante). Until the arrival to Madrid on September 15th, we will have nine mountain stages, six with a hill finish and a ITT in Pau (France).

As usual, the mountain will arrive soon (Javalambre, 5th stage). It will be only a prelude to two other mountain stages: Ares del Maestrat and Mas de la Costa. The Pyrenees will leave an explosive day with outcome in Cortals d’Encamp, the end of the first block of the race.

After the ITT, the riders will face a nervous stage with arrival to Urdax-Dantxarinea and the finish in Bilbao, which will surely become one of the most vibrant days of this edition. Without rest, they will climb Los Machucos, one of the hardest ports of the Vuelta. There will be another four days of mountain remaining: two in Asturias (Acebo and La Cubilla) and another two near Madrid (Becerril de la Sierra and Plataforma de Gredos).

Team INEOS Announce 2019 Vuelta a España lineup
Team INEOS has announced its lineup for the Vuelta a España, which starts in Torrevieja on Saturday (August 24th).

Tao Geoghegan Hart and Wout Poels will be joint leaders of the Team, which is made up of a true blend of youth and experience.

After taking our youngest-ever Grand Tour lineup to the Giro d’Italia in May and one of our most experienced to the Tour de France in July, the Vuelta offers an opportunity for our next generation to learn from those around them in Spain.

Where Geoghegan Hart can look to Poels as a leader and learn from the Dutchman, Grand Tour debutant Owain Doull will benefit from riding alongside the experienced trio of Vasil Kiryienka, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard.

The full Team INEOS lineup is: Owain Doull, Kenny Elissonde, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Sebastian Henao, Vasil Kiryienka, Wout Poels, Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard.

Lead Sport Director Nicolas Portal said: “I believe we have a really talented blend of youth and experience in this Team. The opportunity for Tao to learn from Wout as they lead our Team is a special one and we have faith that both of them can leave their mark on this Vuelta.

“We are also delighted for Owain, who is riding his first Grand Tour for the Team. He’s been building up to this moment and it’s a great opportunity for him to ride alongside the likes of Ian and Vasil over the next three weeks as he takes the next step in his career.”

Portal added: “The Vuelta is always a really tough race, but one that we always look forward to. We love racing in front of the Spanish fans and have had some fantastic success over the years. It promises to be a hard-fought edition this year with some very tough climbs as always and we are looking forward to the start on Saturday.”

Team INEOS 2019 Vuelta a España lineup
Owain Doull
– British – age 26
Making his Grand Tour debut in Spain, Owain Doull has enjoyed an impressive season which saw him chalk up his first professional victory at the Herald Sun Tour, followed swiftly by second place at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The Welshman has proved more than capable in a stage race support role this year, playing a role in four victorious squads. Doull is a strong lead-out man and can provide key help on the flat.

Kenny Elissonde – French – age 28
A Vuelta a Espana stage winner in 2013, Elissonde has been a regular at the Spanish Grand Tour throughout his career. On his day the Frenchman is one of the finest climbers around and supported Chris Froome to his Giro d’Italia win in 2018. Now set to race his eighth Grand Tour, he has enjoyed a consistent 2019 and is fresh off the back of an impressive ride in support of winner Ivan Sosa at Vuelta a Burgos.

Tao Geoghegan Hart – British – age 24
Tao Geoghegan Hart has quickly forged a reputation as one of the most talented up-and-coming stage racers in the peloton. Twelve months after making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta, the Brit returns with added experience in a leadership role. A character-building Giro appearance this season, coupled with strong overall results at the Tour of the Alps and Tour de Pologne, should ensure Tao is motivated for another tilt at the Vuelta GC.

Sebastian Henao – Colombian – age 26
Set for his first Vuelta start after tackling five of the last six editions of the Giro d’Italia, Henao will take another step in his career in Spain. No longer the youngster of the team, the Colombian has built a dependable reputation in stage races over the years and will provide valuable assistance in the medium to high mountains.

Vasil Kiryienka – Belarusian – age 38
Few riders enjoying riding hard on the front of the peloton as much as Vasil Kiryienka. A cornerstone in so many successful teams down the years, Kiry is all set for a milestone 20th Grand Tour appearance. The Belarusian won a Vuelta stage for the team in 2013 and two years later took the world time trial title. He is also a superb climber, able to sustain a high tempo in the medium mountains.

Wout Poels – Dutch – age 31
With 13 Grand Tours to his name, Wout Poels has made a name for himself with his heroics in the high mountains. The Dutch climber has played a vital role in six of the Team’s Grand Tour victories and Poels has pedigree in this race too, with a stage win on the iconic Angliru to his name as well as a sixth place overall finish in 2017. He enjoyed a fine win at the Criterium de Dauphine earlier this season, before helping Egan Bernal to Tour de France success in July.

Salvatore Puccio – Italian – age 29
Completing the Giro / Vuelta double for the third year in succession, Salvatore Puccio enjoys the challenge of riding two Grand Tours in a season. The Italian will turn 30 during the race and brings experience to the lineup, in addition to strong all-round attributes. Puccio knows what it takes to win the race, after helping Chris Froome to 2017 success, followed up immediately by helping Froome to his Giro victory in 2018.

Ian Stannard – British – age 32
Lining up for his 10th Grand Tour start, Ian Stannard brings power and experience into the squad. Able to support his leaders on the flat, in the crosswinds and in the medium mountains, the Brit’s versatility makes him a key squad member. No stranger to the Vuelta, Stannard was part of Chris Froome’s successful campaign in 2017, in addition to three Tour de France victories.

La Vuelta Ciclista a España
Luke Roberts – Team Sunweb coach: “This year’s edition of the Vuelta a España once again has a varied parcours, with lots of opportunities throughout the race. We bring a motivated squad that want to show themselves during the three weeks. Our main goal will be to target a good GC result with Wilco and we bring some strong support for him with Nicholas, Robert, Michael and Martijn. In the flat sprints we will work to set up Max who will be taking aim at stage success, and he will be backed up by Grand Tour debutant Casper and our road captain Nikias.”

Nikias Arndt (GER), Wilco Kelderman (NED), Casper Pedersen (DEN), Robert Power (AUS), Nicholas Roche (IRL), Michael Storer (AUS), Martijn Tusveld (NED), Max Walscheid (GER).

Nicholas Roche will be looking for stage success

Sports Director Mario Aerts Explains Vuelta Line-Up
From Saturday 24 August onwards, Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Tomasz Marczyński, Tosh Van der Sande, Brian van Goethem, Harm Vanhoucke and Jelle Wallays will represent Lotto Soudal in the three-week Vuelta a España. Last year, Lotto Soudal animated the final Grand Tour of the season with numerous attacks, which were eventually rewarded with a stage victory for Jelle Wallays and the mountains jersey for Thomas De Gendt. Sports director Mario Aerts explains Lotto Soudal’s Vuelta line-up and the ambitions for this year.

Mario Aerts: “With this team of attackers, the goal is again to join breakaways in order to obtain stage victories, something four riders within our line-up already did. Carl Fredrik Hagen will be at the start of his first Grand Tour – which he will ride without any pressure to perform – but races like Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné have proven that Carl is not the kind of rider that rapidly cracks. In this respect, Carl will be granted all the freedom to see how far he can go in the general classification.”

“It is not always the case that – compared to other Grand Tours – the Vuelta offers more chances for the escapees. The 2017 edition – in which we took home four stage wins – was an excellent Vuelta for attackers. On paper, it looks like there are enough possibilities this year, but a lot depends on the list of participants, how the race unfolds, how long sprinters can hang on during the tough stages,… The course difficulty of this year’s Vuelta is comparable to the one of previous editions. There will already be a lot of clarity, GC-wise, on the second rest day, both stage fifteen and sixteen are relatively short but really hard.”

“Sander Armée took a stage victory in 2017. He never loses heaps of time in the mountain stages and he is the kind of rider that gets better by racing hard, every day. He is able to obtain a nice overall result, but the main goal for Sander will be to aim for another stage win. For Thomas De Gendt, the Vuelta will be his third Grand Tour of the year. After some rest following the Tour de France, he again built up towards the Vuelta , so we will have to wait and see whether Thomas is already in good shape during the first week or if he will get up to speed during the second or third week. A rider like Thomas De Gendt really needs no introduction, if the legs are good and if he sees some opportunities, he will for sure grab them with both hands.”

“Jelle Wallays is again growing towards his best form after bad luck in the beginning of the season. He was already good at the ZLM Tour and he also went for a week of training at altitude after the Tour de Pologne. As a non-sprinter or non-climber, it is never easy to win a stage but Jelle will do everything he can to repeat last year’s exploit. Jelle knows how to win a race and is gradually building a nice palmarès. Tomasz Marczyński will again aim for success in the stages that contain a lot of altitude metres, with the same recipe that proved successful two years ago.”

“This year’s Vuelta includes a couple of finishes which – if they end in a sprint – suit Tosh Van der Sande really well, but he can also join a breakaway. We have to see how far Carl Fredrik Hagen can hang on uphill, but of course, Carl can be part of a break if there will be chances to do so. When Sander Armée went to the Vuelta with slight GC ambitions two years ago, he could eventually win a stage.”

“For climbers like Harm Vanhoucke, there aren’t too many ideal races in this period of the season and that is why Harm will make his Grand Tour debut in the Vuelta. It will be one big discovery and learning process for him. If he would be out of energy after ten days, he can of course quit. For Brian van Goethem, the Vuelta will definitely be a challenge but he is part of our line-up because of a clear goal. Every rider gets stronger by riding a Grand Tour and we hope Brian can reap the benefits during next year’s spring Classics. Brian did not race too much the past months, so he will be quite fresh. Moreover, the stages Jelle Wallays has marked, can also suit Brian.”

Line-up La Vuelta Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Thomas De Gendt, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Tomasz Marczyński, Tosh Van der Sande, Brian van Goethem, Harm Vanhoucke and Jelle Wallays.

Tosh Van der Sande:

Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Vuelta a España
Riders who between them have won more than a dozen races this year will line up at the start of the season’s final Grand Tour.

Vuelta a España kicks off on Saturday in Salinas de Torrevieja, with a team time trial, and once again concludes in Madrid, after three gruelling and energy-sapping weeks that put on the table a mountainous route covering almost 3300 kilometres. The race – which this year will see the leader’s red jersey celebrate a decade – will include eight uphill finishes, five of which are new, six days for the sprinters and a 36km-long individual time trial in Pau, host of a stage against the clock also at the Tour de France.

At the previous 16 participations, Deceuninck – Quick-Step have won a total of 26 stages and two secondary classifications with no less than 16 different riders. Now, our outfit comes at the start as firm leader of the UCI World Team Classification, which we top since March 2018, keen on being again one of the main protagonists and leaving an indelible mark over the three-week event.

Eros Capecchi, Rémi Cavagna, Tim Declercq, Paris-Roubaix winner Philippe Gilbert, Dutch Champion and Grand Tour debutant Fabio Jakobsen, James Knox, Argentinean Champion Maximiliano Richeze and Zdenek Stybar, one of the season’s performers in the Spring Classics, will make up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s roster for the 74th edition of La Vuelta (24 August – 15 September).

“We have a nice mix of young and experienced riders, and our goal will be to go for stage victories. Fabio is making his first Grand Tour appearance and with the help of Max we hope he’ll be there in the bunch sprints, while James will take it day by day and see what he can do in the mountains. Rémi is also capable of some nice things, as he has shown earlier this year in California, while Tim will do what he does best and work hard at the head of the peloton to bring back the break”, said sports director Wilfried Peeters. “Another experienced rider is Eros, who can help in the mountains and guide our young guys. Last but not least, Phil and Styby have what it takes to win a stage and will look for opportunities over the next three weeks.”

24.08–15.09 La Vuelta ciclista a España (ESP) 2.UWT

Eros Capecchi (ITA), Rémi Cavagna (FRA), Tim Declercq (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Fabio Jakobsen (NED), James Knox (GBR), Maximiliano Richeze (ARG), Zdenek Stybar (CZE).
Sports Director: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Urán captains EF Education First Pro Cycling Vuelta team
Carthy, Craddock, Docker, Higuita, Martínez, Owen and van Garderen round out roster for season’s final Grand Tour.

It is not long now until the final Grand Tour of the season, la Vuelta a España, will be upon us. Once again the Spanish race organisers have created a parcours that will have fans sizzling with as much excitement as the sun-baked asphalt along the Costa Blanca, where the race starts.

“This is the spirit of the Vuelta,” EF Education First Pro Cycling sport director Juanma Garate says. “It’s such happiness, because the Spanish people are still on their summer holidays in August, so the first eight stages are along the coast of the Mediterranean and there are so many people there. In fact, they make you feel a bit jealous because they are on the beach enjoying themselves, watching the race and everyone is happy.”

Our EF Education First crew heads in with high hopes — a high general classification showing for Uran, and hunting stages with a number of riders. The Vuelta is always exciting — that much we know.

The 74th edition of the race starts in Torrevieja on Saturday with a team time trial then continues to wind around Spain, Andorra and France over 3,290 kilometres, with the final stage once again held in Madrid.

This race is renowned for its steep climbs, but Garate says the organisers have cut back on some of the overly harsh pitches. Still, he thinks it’s one of the hardest Vueltas he’s seen on paper in years.

“I think this year’s race is one of the hardest we’ve had in the last 10 years, because we have so many climbs every day. It’s going to be really tough. There are less big mountain climbs, but we have more climbs in general,” Garate explains.

Read on about the 2019 Vuelta team here:

Rigoberto Urán: “The Vuelta is a beautiful race. I have won stages here but never been on the podium. That’s a huge motivation going into it. This year has been a bit of an unusual year. I’ve had very few days of racing, and I felt good at the Tour, so I see a great opportunity here at the Vuelta, especially with the strong team we have racing.”

Lawson Craddock: “My feeling going into the Vuelta is good. I enjoyed a little bit of recovery at the beginning of July and then really turned my focus on training and recovery and nutrition over that six week period to make sure I was as fit as possible. The Vuelta is a lot different than the Tour, the pressure is a lot higher at the Tour, and whilst there is still pressure at the Vuelta, it’s definitely more relaxed. You can see the Spanish lifestyle and culture shine through and influence the race.”

Sergio Higuita: “To race the Vuelta is a childhood dream come true. There have been many years of longing and sweating just so one day I would arrive at this point and be able to race this race. I just want to enjoy it, right up to the finish line of the 21st stage. I want to spend the race fighting for my team and learning with them.”

Logan Owen: “It was really cool getting the call saying that I was going to the Vuelta. I have been working hard in training, with a really focused effort from Ken [Vanmarcke], to give myself the opportunity to race a Grand Tour. My selection feels like the culmination of all the work we’ve done together this year to allow me to arrive at a place where I’m ready to race for three weeks straight. This is going to be a huge learning experience for me, especially with the team that we have going. It’s an honour to work with those guys and to be included.”

Hugh Carthy: “The last time I did the Vuelta I didn’t have the greatest of experiences. It was my first Grand Tour and it was a baptism of fire. So coming back now, I’m a different rider to what I was then, more developed, more mature. In some ways it’ll be such a different experience for me, it will be like doing a race I’ve never done before. Last time I just rode around counting the days down. This year it feels good to be going there to actually race it and have a defined role and goals.”

Mitch Docker:
“As road captain at the Vuelta, my role is about trying to connect this group of people together. We have a climber-heavy team, so it’s going to be vital getting everyone to work well together. If we can do that, then we have the potential to go out there and achieve a great result.”

Dani Martínez: “It’s going to be emotional racing the Vuelta this year for me, because it’s a race that I’ve always dreamed of doing but have never raced it before. It’s also a great opportunity for me after not being able to ride the Tour because of my accident. I feel a bit nervous because I haven’t raced that much going into it, but I think we’re well prepared.”

Tejay van Garderen: “I am really excited about the Vuelta. I’m happy the team is giving me a second chance at a Grand Tour after the way the Tour de France ended for me. We are bringing a super strong team, and I’m ready to fill whatever role the team requires from me.”

Rigoberto Urán:

UAE Team Emirates Full of Confidence as it Reveals a Solid Squad Ahead of the Vuelta a España
With less than a week to go until the 74th edition of the Vuelta a Espana begins, UAE Team Emirates has revealed its eight man squad for the last Grand Tour of the season.

The group is packed full of experience, with 45 Grand Tours between the riders – 14 of which have been earned at the Vuelta. It will be led by Fabio Aru and Fernando Gaviria, who will have support from a well-rounded team, including the up and coming Slovenian talent Tadej Pogacar who will earn his first ever Grand Tour cap.

The squad is topped off with the Italian trio of Valerio Conti, Oliviero Troia and Marco Marcato, as well as the Columbian duo of Sergio Henao and Juan Sebastian Molano. The riders will be guided by Andrej Hauptman, Bruno Vicino and Paolo Tiralongo – along with team GM, Joxean Matxin.

Matxin: “At the Vuelta we will be able to count on a very strong team, which offers us many possibilities depending on how the race unfolds. We will be able to aim for the sprint stages with Fernando Gaviria who we know can do well there. For the general classification there will be Fabio Aru, whose condition has grown a lot and approaches the Vuelta with great concentration and determination. The choice was made also that the talented Tadej Pogačar will make his debut after proving this year that he is not only a contender for the future but for the present also. Along with the remaining riders, we believe we have a complete and balanced team to give the necessary support to achieve our goals”.

The 21 stages of this year’s Vuelta will kick off with a 13.4km Team Time Trial in Torrevieja on Saturday and run until the final sprint stage in Madrid on 15th September. Along the way there are six flat stages, a 36.2km Individual Time Trial, three lumpy stages, and nine mountain stages – eight of which feature summit finishes.

Gaviria: “I am happy to make my debut in an important race like the Vuelta, the only Grand Tour I have never participated in. There aren’t many stages for the sprinters, and we’ll have to take our chances when we can – this is what makes the Vuelta even more challenging and stimulating”.

Aru: “As always, the Vuelta a España represents an important and stimulating challenge, both in terms of the route and the quality of the start list. I’m excited and ready to race, especially since the operation I had four months ago. The goal is to compete at high level but also to be consistent”.

Pogačar: “I am really excited to be able to participate in my first Grand Tour, I can’t wait to be on the starting ramp of the team time trial and start this new challenge. I will be in Spain with the aim of learning as much as possible, understanding how to move in the bunch in such an important race and how to manage it over the three weeks. It’s the only way I can start building something good for the next few years”.

Katusha-Alpecin for the Vuelta’19
Daniel Navarro is by far the most experienced rider at Katusha-Alpecin at the 2019 Vuelta a España. For the Spaniard this will be his sixth participation in his home Grand Tour, he finished 10th in 2014, although it has been a while since he was competing for an overall placing. Enrico Battaglin could show himself again on an uphill finish. It will be a great opportunity for young riders Steff Cras and Matteo Fabbro to gain experience in a Grand Tour.

Katusha-Alpecin for the Vuelta a España 2019:
Enrico Battaglin (Ita), Steff Cras (Bel), Matteo Fabbro (Ita), Ruben Guerreiro (Por), Pavel Kochetkov (Rus), Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus), Daniel Navarro (Spa), Willie Smit (SA).

Daniel Navarro:

Vuelta a España
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka is delighted to announce its 8-rider roster that will take on the final grand tour of the season, La Vuelta Espana.

After last year’s memorable Vuelta a Espana, that saw Ben King take two emphatic stage wins for our team, the American will return to the Spanish grand tour with similar stage hunting goals.

Joining King in the quest for stage honours will be our Norwegian star, Edvald Boasson Hagen. The 32-year-old has only once started the Vuelta a Espana previously, in 2013, but this year he will look to become part of an exclusive club, for riders who have won stages in all 3 grand tours, as he targets the group sprint stages of La Vuelta.

We will then have a talented trio of climbers: Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier, Louis Meintjes and Ben O’Connor ready to impress when we hit the big mountains. While Meintjes has grand tour top-10 experience and O’Connor came agonisingly close at last year’s Giro, it is Ghebreigzabhier that could very well be our surprise package of La Vuelta.

After completing the Giro d’Italia this year, the Eritrean claimed a National time trial title before successive 3rd place finishes on the Queen climbing stages of the Tour of Austria and Vuelta Burgos netted him top-10 GC results in both.

Nicholas Dlamini will be one of two grand tour debutants for us at La Vuelta. This will be the next step in the career of the young South African from Capricorn Park whose incredible journey to the top level of the sport underpins our team’s core belief that bicycles can indeed change lives.

Rasmus Tiller will be our second debutant and despite still only being in his neo-pro season, the Norwegian has shown strength beyond his years as well as a wide range of versatility, that has earned him his spot.

Completing our team will be the ever reliable Jaco Venter. Now starting his 7th grand tour, the 32-year-old South African will be tasked with supporting Boasson Hagen in the sprints before looking after our climbers later in the race.

Ben King“I’m feeling strong after the Tour de France and I’m excited to return to the Vuelta with good memories. We have a relatively young but very talented team. Having a card to play on every type of stage will guarantee that there’s never a boring stage for us!”

Edvald Boasson Hagen“It will be nice to return to the Vuelta Espana and I look forward to this different approach to the end of my season. I really enjoy racing in Spain, even though it does not happen so often, but there are some nice stages at the Vuelta this year, so we hope to do well.”

Nicholas Dlamini“I really look forward to the Vuelta, I’m super excited and nervous at the same time. It’s a special one for me as it’s my first grand tour so I don’t know what to expect really, but I look forward to racing and adding good value to the team. I have had a reduced racing program, so I’ve been training really hard for this Vuelta.”

Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier“After finishing a very difficult Giro d’Italia this year, I have come into the 2nd half of the season with some good strength and so I have very high motivation now. Last year it was my first Vuelta Espana and in the 3rd week I could still achieve a top 10 result. This year I think I am stronger and have a little more experience, so I hope to be able to do a good result for me, the team and Eritrea.”

Burgos-BH Vuelta a España Riders
For Burgos-BH, a wildcard team for the Vuelta a España, the home Tour is always an important appointment. The Spanish formation is starting with an experienced team, Óscar Cabedo is the only rider under 25 years old. The purple and red team will be seen in the breaks, and Dutchman Jetse Bol should be up there. At the end of July he showed good form in a few Spanish one-day races.

Burgos-BH for Vuelta a España 2019:
Nuno Bico (Por), Jetse Bol (Ned), Óscar Cabedo (Spa), Jorge Cubero (Spa), Jesús Ezquerra (Spa), Ángel Madrazo (spa), Diego Rubio (Spa), Ricardo Vilela (Por).

Euskadi-Murias Vuelta Team
The team from the Basque Country will undoubtedly want to show itself again, after Óscar Rodríguez won the thirteenth stage to La Camperona last year. The Spaniard turned out not to be a one-day wonder and this season he already achieved good results in the Vuelta a Murcia, La Route d’Occitanie and the Vuelta a Burgos. With Fernando Barceló and Héctor Sáez, the team has some interesting names on board.

Euskadi-Murias for la Vuelta a España 2019:
Aritz Bagües (Spa), Fernando Barceló (Spa), Cyril Barthe (Fra), Mikel Bizkarra (Spa), Mikel Iturria (Spa), Óscar Rodríguez (Spa), Sergio Samitier (Spa), Héctor Sáez (Spa).

Óscar Rodríguez:

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA Commemorates 10 Years with a New Jersey for la Vuelta
Ten years among the professionals is not met every day. For this reason, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA and Gobik wanted to design a commemorative jersey to celebrate this date. This is a limited edition that will be used only during the next Tour of Spain.

White colour replaces much of the black that occupies the jersey used during the rest of the season, giving greater prominence to the spaces on the shoulders, chest and back.

During this ten years of work, the team have created new opportunities for a big number of riders. For example, 63 cyclist have obtained a professional contract after being part of the feeder squad, twenty-nine of them went directly to the professional roster of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Four Time Tour de France Stage Winner Dylan Groenewegen Headlines First Riders Revealed for OVO Energy Tour of Britain
Four-time Tour de France stage winner Dylan Groenewegen will return to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain this September for his third appearance in the UK’s biggest professional cycle race.

The 26-year-old Dutchman has ridden in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain twice before winning stages on both occasions, in Builth Wells in 2016 and Cheltenham in 2017, as well as taking the Cetaphil Points classification on his first appearance.

Joining him on the provisional start list are two further OVO Energy Tour of Britain stage winners, Matteo Trentin and Cameron Meyer of Mitchelton-SCOTT.

Groenewegen won stage seven of the Tour de France this summer, as well as helping his Jumbo – Visma squad to victory in the race’s team time trial.

The remaining five members of the Jumbo – Visma team for the OVO Energy Tour of Britain will be confirmed closer to the race, but could include Laurens De Plus, who claimed his maiden stage race victory at the weekend by winning the BinckBank Tour in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Another rider clinching stage race success at the weekend ahead of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain was Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) who won two stages and the overall of the Tour of Utah.

The 33-year-old Belgian comes to the race on a strong run of form that saw him win the Tour of Austria in July for the second successive year, and finish runner-up in the Adriatica Ionica Race in Italy in early August.

Former European champion Trentin won Stage Six of the 2015 in Nottingham, while Australian rider Meyer took Stage Two in Barnstaple last September.

Already confirmed for the OVO Energy Tour of Britain is multi-talented Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), who continued his stellar 2019 season by winning the opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway last week.

Further rider announcements will be made over the coming days in the build up to the OVO Energy Tour of Britain, which begins from George Square in Glasgow on Saturday 7 September and concludes for the first time in Greater Manchester on Saturday 14 September.

The OVO Energy Tour of Britain is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event, giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep and helping to build a great cycling nation.

ITV4 will once again screen live free-to-air coverage flag-to-flag of each stage in the UK, along with a nightly highlights programme of the best of the action.

Tour de France stage winner, Dylan Groenewegen:

Philippe Gilbert Returns to Lotto Soudal
Lotto Soudal is pleased to announce that Philippe Gilbert will strengthen the team from next season. The 37-year-old Belgian, currently riding for Deceuninck – Quick Step, signed a three-year agreement. That way, Gilbert returns to the team in which he celebrated his first big successes, such as Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Tour of Lombardy, the Amstel Gold Race and the Tour de France opening stage (2011). The world champion of 2012 discusses the choice for Lotto Soudal and is looking forward to starting a second chapter with the team.

Philippe Gilbert: “I still wanted to race, without any doubt. When I learned that I could prolong at my current team for only one year, it was clear to me that I wanted to change. The clearest interest and project was the one of Lotto Soudal. Of course, I know the team, a lot of riders and staff are no strangers to me, I know the spirit and I will again be part of a Belgian project.”

“I am very happy that we reached an agreement quite quickly. I know John Lelangue from my period at BMC as a person who highly values organisation and discipline. I achieved my first big successes together with sports manager Marc Sergeant. Primarily, my goals are to be found in the one-day races and the big Classics. Lotto Soudal gets stronger and stronger, we need to fight against the absolute top teams, not by expressing big ambitions beforehand, but by getting results.”

“The past few years, I watched the team from outside and I think they maybe lacked a real leader in those races. I want to try to lift the team to a higher level, by performing myself but also by making other riders better. It gives me just as much pleasure if they would show themselves important or if they would be able to win. I know a couple of guys from the national team, others like Wellens and Ewan live nearby. Maxime Monfort and I almost have the same age and I have been racing against some others for several years.”

“Discipline and joy are the key factors to stay a pro cyclist for so long. I still leave for training at the same hour, I do what I have to do, I don’t skip training rides,… That and a strong body help to stay competitive at a high level. At the BinckBank Tour, the Vuelta, the World Championships and the Tour of Lombardy, I want to conclude my time at Deceuninck – Quick Step as good as possible, preferably with a victory.”

Sports manager Marc Sergeant is of course happy with Philippe Gilbert joining the team. According to Sergeant, Gilbert his role within Lotto Soudal will be twofold. On the one hand, sharing his wide experience with the teammates, on the other hand, to get nice results himself, for the team.

Sports manager Marc Sergeant: “Of course, we know Philippe from his first period at the team. At that time, I was urging for a transfer to the Lotto team, almost on a yearly basis. He laid the foundations for the rider he did become with us, an achievement that, mainly, only he needs to be credited for. Afterwards, he further built his impressive career and palmarès. In the first part of his career, he mainly targeted the Walloon Classics, but when you see that he also added the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix to his palmarès… Chapeau! That is important as an example towards others and without any doubt, a lot of people will admire him.”

“Meanwhile, he has so much experience, he won all Monuments, except for one, and he can pass on his experience to the current team, which is hungry for new success. His age is a relative term, you are as old or fit as you feel. He still has that big urge to prove himself and he is go-getter, that is his secret. In terms of race schedule, it has always been a rider who is active from February till October. Certain Flemish and Walloon Classics are perfectly compatible, to play a decisive role himself or to pass on his experience and strengthen the team.”

John Lelangue, general manager at Lotto Soudal, mentions several reasons why Philippe Gilbert means an important addition to the team.

General manager John Lelangue: “There are several reasons why Philippe Gilbert is an important transfer for us. Firstly, he is a complete leader, with his palmarès, with the evolution he made throughout his career and with his personality. That is why we really wanted him with us, to highlight the DNA of the team more clearly in the one-day races. Of all the active riders, he has the biggest one-day races palmarès; he knows what it takes to win.”

“I worked with Philippe at BMC and I got to know him as a charismatic but human leader of the group and a motivator for the young guys. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to pass on his extensive experience to Bjorg, but other riders can learn a lot from Philippe. He gives his teammates a lot of advice and tries to lead the way for them. And his offensive way of racing is of course also an important factor.”

“Everybody knows that we want to keep on taking a prominent role in the one-day races and during the stages of the longer races, and Philippe has already proven countless times to be successful there. After his crash in the Tour last year, he worked really hard to again reach the highest level, with the victory in Roubaix as the reward. We want to strive for podium places and victories, that’s what it’s all about, nothing else matters. That is why we have to build a team that can do so. And Philippe can be an important factor towards meeting those ambitions.”

Philippe Gilbert
Nationality: Belgian
Date of birth: 05/07/1982 – Verviers
Living in Monaco
Turned pro in 2003 with La Française des Jeux
1m79 – 69kg

75 pro victories

World champion road cycling – Valkenburg 2012

Paris-Roubaix (2019)
Tour of Flanders (2017)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (2011)
2x Tour of Lombardy (2009, 2010)
4x Amstel Gold Race (2010, 2011, 2014, 2017)

3x stage victory Giro d’Italia
1x stage victory Tour de France
5x stage victory Vuelta a España

2x Belgian road cycling champion
1x Belgian time trial champion

Flèche Wallonne (2011), Flèche Brabançonne (2011, 2014), Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (2006, 2008), Clásica San Sebastián (2011), Paris-Tours (2008, 2009)…

More to come from Philippe Gilbert:

Jakob Fuglsang Extends with Astana Pro Team
Astana Pro Team is happy to announce a new 2-year agreement with one of the team’s leaders Jakob Fuglsang. Thus, the Danish rider will continue defending the Astana colours in 2020 and 2021.

“I am happy to stay with the team as I feel here like at home. I’ve been with Astana for 7 years already and I am happy to continue. As everyone could see this year, I’ve really found my spot and I had a great support team around me, from riders to staff and sports directors. This year is my best season ever so far and I am still motivated to show more. In the next days I am going to start La Vuelta where I’d like to go for the stages and to try to find the legs for the last part of the season. I am happy that everything worked out perfectly and we are going ahead together with the team for two more years. I hope to be able to deliver more big results for the team in the future,” said Jakob Fuglsang.

Jakob Fuglsang, 34, is one of the true leaders of Astana Pro Team. In 2019 he is living the best season of his career so far. Jakob has spent a phenomenal spring with the Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory and two big podiums at the Amstel Gold Race (3rd place) and La Flèche Wallonne (2nd place). Also, he won a stage at the Tirreno-Adriatico, finishing 3rd in the overall classification, won the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and did second at the Strade Bianche. In June, for the second time in his career Jakob won the general classification of the Critérium du Dauphiné.

“I am really happy that Jakob Fuglsang stays in Astana Pro Team. He is passing a great season so far, but also the last few seasons showed us that he is still in a great age to achieve more in cycling. Jakob was super strong during the first half of the year and he just missed some luck at the Tour de France. However, now he is going to start at La Vuelta, where, I am sure, he will turn his luck back. In the next years we will continue supporting Jakob as one of team’s leaders and I think he will reach the new height of this sports,” said Alexandr Vinokurov, general manager of Astana Pro Team.

Jakob Fuglsang:

Lotto Soudal Strengthens team with John Degenkolb
Lotto Soudal welcomes John Degenkolb to the team next year. The 30-year-old German trades Trek-Segafredo for Lotto Soudal and signed an agreement until the end of 2021. Degenkolb turned pro in 2011 and evolved into an excellent Classics rider, whose strong sprint is an extra trump card at the end of a tough race or on a technical finish. In 2015, he triumphed in both Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix, which saw him add two Monuments to his palmares. Early 2016, ‘Dege’ had to miss his beloved spring Classics due to a serious collision with a car. However, the German fought his way back to the top, claiming an emotional win at the Tour de France stage nine, which finished in Roubaix, as the absolute highlight. Degenkolb now opts for a new adventure with Lotto Soudal and already looks ahead.

John Degenkolb: “The talks with Lotto Soudal have revealed that there are many similarities between the team’s goals and mine. It makes sense that a Belgian team with a long history in cycling wants to excel during the Classics. That will be the aim for the first part of the season. In addition, I’m not slow at the finish, especially after a tough race. Of course, I also look forward to working with Caleb Ewan, who will undoubtedly be our number-one sprinter for his specific goals. But with my experience, I can provide added value for him and for Lotto Soudal. The team is often active on two or three fronts, which increases the chance to obtain nice results.”

“I am firmly convinced that I have reached the age to earn good results on the highest level and to keep performing during the most important races. I know the races, the courses and I have the physical capacities. I already look forward to preparing the 2020 season and to getting to know everybody. Me and Philippe Gilbert can make a complementary duo. We get along really well, I admire him as one of the best Classics riders and with his style of racing, opportunities will come along for all of us. The coming weeks, my goals are to be found in La Vuelta and the World Championships, where I want to conclude my three-year period at Trek-Segafredo as good as possible.”

Marc Sergeant, sports manager at Lotto Soudal, is delighted that John Degenkolb will be part of the team next year.

Marc Sergeant: “With John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert, we managed to add two great riders to our team. John is fast after a hard race, which makes a big difference if you go to the line with, for example twenty riders. I hope that we will get to see the best Degenkolb the coming years and I am convinced that he is capable of doing so. As a team, you need certain riders as a signboard, which usually has a good impact on the other guys. John has gathered a lot of experience and a big credibility inside the peloton. He indicated that he wants to recognize and try to take opportunities, we will for sure be able to define some nice objectives, he is flexible in terms of his race schedule and he definitely wants to commit himself to Caleb Ewan. The fact that we are able to get a German rider on board, is a nice bonus for our partner Soudal, for whom the German market is very important.”

John Degenkolb

Nationality: German
Date of birth: 07/01/1989 – Gera
Turned pro in 2011 with HTC-Highroad
1m80 – 77 kg

47 pro victories

Milan – San Remo (2015)
Paris-Roubaix (2015)
Gent – Wevelgem (2014)
Paris-Tours (2013)
Vattenfall Cyclassics (2013)

Grand Tours:
1x stage victory Giro d’Italia
1x stage victory Tour de France
10x stage victory Vuelta a España

Other stage races:
Stage victories in: Critérium du Dauphiné (2x), Dubai Tour (2x), Tour de Pologne (1x), Paris-Nice (1x)…

John Degenkolb:

Deceuninck – Quick-Step Secure Services of Davide Ballerini
The 24-year-old versatile Italian signs with the team on a two-year deal.

A strong rider in nearly all conditions, Davide Ballerini showed early signs of a promising career with top 10 places at both the Piccolo Lombardia and U23 Ronde van Vlaanderen, before turning professional in 2017, when he immediately took first place in the Tirreno–Adriatico Mountains Classification, followed one year later by victories at the Memorial Marco Pantani and Trofeo Matteotti.

His quality was on display also earlier this season, when he captured the KOM jersey in another World Tour event, the Tour of California, as well as taking the win in the road race at the European Games held in Minsk. In addition to this, Ballerini has had some strong placings in bunch sprints, as well as several very impressive showings in the cobbled classics.

His love for the one-day races and enthusiasm to ride them was evident when he said: “For me, joining this team is a dream. When I spoke to Deceuninck – Quick-Step and heard that they wanted me to ride for them it was special, because when I was younger the first time I watched Lombardia it was when Paolo Bettini won it for Quick-Step, and I said to myself “ ‘Ok, now I go on my bike and I want to ride for that team!’ ”

“Now my dream has come true and I am very, very happy. I am in a good place in my career, where I am trying to become a champion but I am still learning and building, which I think I can do with this extraordinary team. I am looking forward to building with them and learning more about being part of a great squad and how we can be successful together.”

“It is great to have captured another hungry talent in Davide Ballerini. He is very enthusiastic and eager to learn, which is important, and he will work very hard for the team. We have seen how strong he is already and the versatility he possesses, and I hope we can help him grow even further. He is talented enough and has the right attitude to become a very important part of the Wolfpack”, said Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere.

Davide Ballerini:

BORA – hansgrohe Signs Lennard Kämna, Another Future German hope
Already from a young age, Kämna proved himself to be a great talent within German cycling. After his first years as a professional with Team Sunweb, where, amongst other achievements, he became a world champion in the team time trial discipline, the young rider from Fischerhude is now making the move to BORA – hansgrohe. He will wear the colours of the WorldTeam from Raubling until at least the end of 2021.

“I think it was time for me to take the next step. I’m very happy with my decision to move to BORA – hansgrohe. The team has an extremely professional environment and will no doubt offer me optimal opportunities to further develop. When one considers how BORA – hansgrohe has advanced to the highest level with young riders, one can only come to the conclusion that the team is doing a lot right. My years with Team Sunweb were incredibly valuable, and I’m grateful to them for bringing me to the WorldTour. That was the first step for me as a professional rider, and now the next one follows with BORA – hansgrohe.”Lennard Kämna.

“Lennard is undeniably a great talent and was certainly on the wish list of a number of teams. So, I’m all the more pleased that he decided to sign with us. It was particularly impressive to see how he performed in the last week of the Tour. Always active, always at the forefront, every day. From that, one can deduce that he can navigate challenges well and has a big motor. As a strong time triallist, he’s also very versatile. We will see where his journey will take him during the next few years. However, we will develop him just as carefully as we have already done with Emanuel and Pascal. He will receive his chances, but we will also proceed at a sustainable pace.”Ralph Denk, Team Manager.

Lennard Kämna following Simon Yates:

Fausto Masnada to Step Up to the WorldTour with CCC Team
Giro d’Italia stage winner Fausto Masnada is set to add depth to CCC Team’s roster when the Italian graduates to the Polish WorldTour team in 2020.

Masnada, 25, has signed a two-year deal on the back of a breakthrough first half of the 2019 season with two stage wins at the Tour of the Alps and a maiden Grand Tour stage win on stage six of the Giro d’Italia.

CCC Team General Manager said Masnada will increase the team’s ability to race well in the mountains and be competitive in stage races and Grand Tours.

“We are very excited to welcome Fausto Masnada to CCC Team and see him make his debut with a WorldTour team. We had our eye on Fausto for quite some time and his results this year confirmed that he is an incredibly talented rider. At just 25-years-old, Fausto has a long and bright career ahead of him and we are looking forward to helping him to develop further with us in the next two years,” Ochowicz explained.

“Fausto’s stage win and overall victory at the Tour of Hainan last year and two stage wins at the Tour of the Alps this year showed how well he can climb and his ability to win in a variety of situations. I think Fausto’s performance at the Giro d’Italia, with his win on stage six and another two top-five results, as well as numerous aggressive displays in breakaways, was a sign of what we can expect from him next year against some of the best riders in the world. We are looking ahead to the 2020 season with a lot of excitement knowing that our roster has been strengthened with the addition of Fausto and the other riders we have already announced.”

Masnada is ready to make the move to the WorldTour after three years at the Professional Continental level.

“Moving up to a WorldTour team was my goal since the beginning of the season, so I am really happy to join CCC Team next year. The years I have spent in Andiron Giocattoli-Sidermec helped me to grow professionally and obtain the necessary results to be noticed by a big team. To join CCC Team is my opportunity to reach the top level of cycling and I am ready and really excited for the new challenges that lie ahead,” Masnada said.

“I think CCC Team is a good fit for me because I already know some of the team members like Marco Pinotti, Gabrielle Missaglia, and the Italian riders like Jakub Mareczko and Alessandro De Marchi. All of the details and the organisation of the team are really impressive, including the material like the Giant bikes. I am really looking forward to joining the team, racing at the WorldTour level, and continuing to grow as a rider.”

Masnada’s consistency this year has seen the Italian place in the top ten in the General Classification at Tour de la Provence, Giro di Sicilia, where he claimed the KOM classification, Tour of the Alps, and Tour of Slovenia, as well as second overall at the Giro dell’Appennino.

Fausto Masnada:

Campenaerts Signs on for Exciting “New Adventure” with Team NTT
We are delighted to announce that Belgian star Victor Campenaerts will join our team in 2020 in what is a marquee addition, as we rebrand to Team NTT. The Team will complete the 2019 season under the Dimension Data brand and rebrand to wear the colours of NTT for the start of the 2020 season.

The time trial specialist boasts a stellar palmarès that also has the unique distinction of including the World One-Hour record, set in Mexico earlier in 2019, where he completed a distance of 55.089 kilometres.

It was an achievement that has been one of the highlights of the cycling season and, together with the team involved, underscores his attention to detail and meticulous level of preparation at every level. It is this degree of commitment Victor has demonstrated in putting into the goals that he sets himself that also perfectly aligns with the vision of our team, together with our technology and technical partners.

The 27-year-old turned professional in 2014 with Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise where he spent two seasons before stepping up to the WorldTour with LottoNL-Jumbo. Thereafter he will have spent two seasons at Lotto Soudal before stepping in this “new adventure” with Team NTT.

In 2013, before turning professional, he secured not only the Belgian u23 ITT title but also the European u23 ITT title. In 2016 he won his first senior national TT championships and the following year was crowned the European continental champion.

In 2018 he was third at the World Championships, along with being crowned once again both the European and Belgian champion.

In 2019, with his focus primarily on his successful World One-Hour record, Campenaerts also secured two impressive second place stage finishes during the Giro d’Italia, a second place on GC and a stage win at the Baloise Belgium Tour as well as winning the time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Victor Campenaerts: “I’m really looking forward to my new adventure with Team NTT next year. The contact that I had with the team earlier on (in the year) was immediately really positive – with riders at first, then with some of the staff and later on directly with Doug Ryder. The common interests were very positive for both parties, and we didn’t need talk too much in order for us to agree on working together.

“I had two super good years with Lotto Soudal, it was a really positive experience and it was really difficult to leave the team but I’m really looking forward to this new challenge. I’m sure that this is a step forward in my career and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Douglas Ryder – Team Principal: “Welcoming Victor into our team is hugely exciting. His pedigree is exceptional and, in particular, to have someone join us with his time trialling ability is a huge boost for the whole team and for our bike partner BMC as we continue to innovate together. Victor has huge ambitions for next year with which we believe through our partners NTT and ALE and how we use technology, we are able to achieve great things together.

“2020 is a big year which of course includes the Olympic Games in Tokyo as a major highlight for many riders. Our title sponsor, NTT, has its roots in Japan and so to prospectively have Victor challenging for a medal there will be a fantastic moment for us.”

Rubio, Alba, Patiño to Carry Colombia’s Flag at Movistar Team
Telefónica-backed squad inks contracts with 2nd and 3rd-place overall finishes in 2019 U23 Giro – Einer Rubio and Juan Diego Alba (21) – and extends commitment with Paula Patiño (22) through end of 2021 after brilliant maiden WorldTour season.

Paula Patiño

The Movistar Team is making a strong gamble on the new generation of Colombian cycling. The Telefónica-sponsored squad announced on Tuesday it has reached two-year agreements – contracts through the end of the 2021 season – with Einer Rubio (Chiquiza, Boyacá; 1998), coming from the Italian amateur squad Aran Cucine – Vejus, and Juan Diego Alba (Tuta, Boyacá; 1997), from Coldeportes Zenú, as it also extends for an identical, two-year period its commitment with current Blue rider Paula Patiño (La Ceja, Antioquia; 1997).

Rubio and Alba join the Blues after fantastic performances in the U23 Giro d’Italia held last June. Einer took runner-up overall, behind fellow countryman Camilo Ardila and brilliantly won the Queen stage to the Marmolada/Passo Fedaia, while Juan Diego finished 3rd in the GC with a solo victory in Aprica.

Einer Rubio

In turn, Patiño’s extension through 2021 is another boost of confidence for a rider of impressive skills for the hardest races of the calendar. Second best young rider in the 2019 Giro Rosa, she completed equally strong performances in top international races such as the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour – 5th + 6th at two stages – and claimed various podium finishes in Spain (2nd in La Rioja and Eibar; 3rd in Noja and Estella), which underline her dazzling progression.

Juan Diego Alba:

Gravel Racing in New Zealand
With gravel racing taking off around the world it’s no surprise to hear that New Zealand’s premier gravel race the UCI 1.2 Gravel and Tar Classic along with the women’s 1.2 La Femme plus their Gran Fondo challenge the Slicks and Stones 100 is back again for 2020 bigger and better than ever.

The 2019 Gravel and Tar was won by EvoPro racing’s Luke Mudgway and you can catch up on some of the action and amazing scenery of the Manawatu region in the video highlights package video below.

If you’re not an elite/pro male or female rider though you can still challenge yourself on the beautiful paved and unpaved roads around Palmerston North with the Slicks and Stones 100 challenge – 100km of undulating hills and gravel sections just like the pros. 25th January is the date to remember, plan your holidays and get your entries in now – Pez’s own Chris Selden is going to be there so head down under and meet him there! gravelandtar.com

Grazie Campione: Bianchi’s Final Tribute to Felice Gimondi
Bianchi and the whole cycling World are living intensely emotional days after the sudden passing of Felice Gimondi on Friday August 16th, aged 76.

A smiling Felice Gimondi at the presentation of the 2019 Granfondo Gimondi-Bianchi

One of the greatest in Italian cycling history, everlasting icon and ambassador of the Bianchi brand, with which he shared the majority of his life, both during his cycling career and beyond, Gimondi received his final tribute on Tuesday, August 20th at the Church in Paladina (Bergamo, Italy), surrounded by an overflowing display of affection.

“In Felice, the whole cycling World lost a great man, a good and loyal person. We at Bianchi owe him a special gratitude for everything he did over the years for the success and prestige of our brand,” an emotional Bianchi President Salvatore Grimaldi told.

“I think no other athlete in cycling history has ever been so strictly related to a brand the way Felice has with Bianchi: a legitimate value connection.”

“He was an extraordinary man and champion, but he always remained humble and relatable. That’s why he was so unanimously loved, and what made him even greater after his career ended,” Grimaldi said.

Felice Gimondi has achieved 118 wins in his professional career, including all three grand tours, Giro d’Italia (1967, 1969, 1976), Tour de France (1965) and Vuelta a España (1968), in addition to the Road World Championships (1973, Barcelona) and monument classics as Paris-Roubaix (1966), Milano-Sanremo (1974) and Giro di Lombardia (1966, 1973).

The whole F.I.V. Edoardo Bianchi and the Grimaldi Family again offer their mourning and sympathy to Felice’s wife, Tiziana, and his daughters Norma and Federica. Felice’s legend will live forever in the hearts of every cycling passionate.

Felice Gimondi in action at the 1977 Giro d’Italia:

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