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Novi Ligure - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Caleb Ewan (Australia / Team Lotto Soudal) pictured during 102nd Giro d’Italia (2.UWT) - stage 11 from Carpi to Novi Ligure (206KM) - photo Tommaso Pelagalli/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2019

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

The style of Caleb Ewan might not be beautiful, but it’s effective. We catch up with the Giro d’Italia and the OVO Energy Tour Series in Britain. Battle of words between Ackermann and Démare, and Campenaerts and Wiggins – Top Story. Loads of other news: Preview of this weekends Hammer Series in Stavanger, new contracts for Tolhoek, Kuss and Bouwman with Jumbo-Visma, plus Nathan Van Hooydonck with CCC and Andreas Leknessund with Sunweb. Plus Mikkel Honoré and James Knox talk of their first Giro d’Italia. EUROTRASH espresso per due?

TOP STORY: Disagreement Time!
The Giro seems to have started some arguments, first up is between the sprinters: Pascal Ackermann of Bora-Hansgrohe and Groupama-FJD’s Arnaud Démare.

The battle for the points jersey is open again after Tuesday. Pascal Ackermann started the stage to Modena with a comfortable lead of 52 points. After his crash in the finalé the victory went to the German’s competitor, Démare, but Ackermann saved the ‘Maglia Ciclamino’ by 1 point.

It seems that Ackermann did not take this scenario into account, according to a reaction from Démare afterwards. The Frenchman criticized the attitude of Ackermann in La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Ackermann rides well, but is a bit arrogant”, said Démare. “He asked me: ‘Why are you sprinting in the intermediate sprint? Let’s stay in the pack. If you win the sprint later, I will be second and the difference between us will still be forty points’. A Grand Tour is long and now he only has a 1 point lead.” Démare took over the points competition lead the next day, Wednesday.

The other storm in a tea-cup comes from Hour Record holders; Bradley Wiggins and Lotto Soudal’s Victor Campenaerts.

Victor Campenaerts disagrees with some statements made by ex-Hour Record holder, Bradley Wiggins in his podcast. Wiggins commented on the unfortunate bike change of Campenaerts during the time trial to San Marino, accusing the Lotto Soudal team of having less than perfect methods.

Campenaerts unfortunately had to change from his time trial to his normal road bike and could not get into his pedal and his mechanic did not push him. It was clear to Wiggins that Lotto Soudal had lost stage win right there. While the retired British rider sees teams such as Ineos and Mitchelton-Scott go to extremes in terms of details and professionalism, he pointed out that the Belgian team is: “disorganization on days like this”, and “Campenaerts deserves better, this is terrible.”

Campenaerts spoke to Sporza before the eleventh stage of the Giro. “I also read and saw it. What can I say about it? I think he has not seen the team here how we have set the hour record. We broke his fucking hour record, didn’t we? We may indeed look more like a traditional team, but a lot of progress has been made, certainly in terms of time trial since my arrival.”

“And with Kevin De Weert we have taken very big steps. The hour record was the perfect proof of that.” Campenaerts ends his contract with Lotto Soudal after this season and there is no news about a new contract yet. He said: “I focus on the Giro. After a Grand Tour you have to train less and then there is time for negotiations. It wouldn’t be bad if something came out of the bus, but there is still time.”

Giro d’Italia 2019
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ), the winner of the 2016 Milan-Sanremo, claimed his first ever stage victory of the Giro d’Italia in a crash-marred finale that took out the Maglia Ciclamino, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) at the end of Monday’s Stage 10. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounded out the podium. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) came home safely and retained the Maglia Rosa for another day.

The break of the day was not doing to stay away, but Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF) and Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizané) gave it a good try. The duo were only allowed a 2 minute advantage and were caught with 30 kilometers to go. The sprinter’s teams took over and the speed lifted for the finalé. With 1K to go there was a crash that involved Ackermann and around a dozen other riders. Lotto Soudal led the sprint out, but Démare jumped on the opposite side of the road to take the win from Viviani and Ewan.

First win at the Giro for Arnaud Démare. It’s his second victory on Italian soil after the 2016 Milan-Sanremo and his first win this year. It’s victory number 65 at the Giro for French riders. The first one was by Jean-Baptiste Dortignacq on 20 May 1910 in Bologna, the last one was by Thibaut Pinot on stage 20 to Asiago in 2017. The last French sprint victory was by another FDJ rider, Nacer Bouhanni, who won three stages in 2014. Fifth Maglia Rosa for Valerio Conti, just as many as Primoz Roglic who led the Giro from stages 1 to 5. It’s the second podium for Rüdiger Selig at the Giro. The German came second in stage 3 to Cagliari in 2017.

Ed Hood’s ‘Rest Day Up-Date’ HERE.

Full PEZ Stage 10 Race Report HERE.

Stage winner, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “I knew it would be a fast sprint with the last 20km very nervous. To avoid any crash, I asked my team-mates to keep me in the first ten or fifteen positions. They have been excellent. Ramon [Sinkeldam] has been very strong and Jacopo [Guarnieri] exceptional. A sprint like this, at full speed with no need to brake, was perfect for me. I and my team would have liked to win a sprint earlier in the Giro. I was always placed but I wasn’t winning. It’s a relief today. My goal is to reach Verona. If I have the legs to overcome the mountains, I’ll be there till the end.”

Race leader, Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates): “In some stages of this Giro we rode very hard but it wasn’t the case today. I don’t like this kind of racing because it makes the finale more dangerous as many riders are still fresh and too many believe they can win. I don’t want to take unnecessary risks. I repeat that I want to keep the Maglia Rosa as long as possible. My biggest fear is the attacks of Vincenzo Nibali. They’re unpredictable.”

2nd on the stage, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I jumped out from Ewan’s wheel and powered ahead straight down the middle of the road, but Demare was strong and could keep his speed until the end, despite putting in a long sprint. We have another opportunity on Wednesday and I hope to be again up there and fight for victory.”

3rd on the stage, Rüdiger Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe): “We didn’t have a lot of luck today. We were still tucked away in the peloton with 50km remaining, to save our energy, and then we came further up in the main field afterwards. We then came right to the front with Pascal and Schwarzi and at the 1 kilometer mark it got quite tight, and I had to brake. I heard the crash and turned around where I saw that he was on the ground. I wasn’t quite sure if I should stop or ride on. I then tried for the sprint, but it’s tough to get a result against Démare or Viviani. I can’t really be so happy because Pascal was in good form. It’s annoying, but it can happen.”

Crash victim and points leader, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I recovered on the first rest day and had good legs again. We wanted to play a bit of poker on the stage, so that more pressure would be on the other sprinter teams. During the last 5 km, we came to the front. At the 1000m to go mark, everything went by so fast, so I don’t really know what happened, and I could not react in time. The crash was heavy, and I sustained a few abrasions and contusions, but thankfully I can continue to ride. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but these are the demands of a Grand Tour, and you just have to take such setbacks as they come.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 10 Result:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 3:36:07
2. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
6. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8. Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane
9. Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:02
10. Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ at 0:04.

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 10:
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 39:45:10
2. Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:50
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
4. José Rojas (Spa) Movistar at 2:33
5. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC at 2:34
6. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:36
7. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 2:39
8. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 3:27
9. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 3:30
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 3:32.

Giro stage 10:

On Stage 11 Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) took his second stage win at Novi Ligure in the home of the super champions (campionissimi) Fausto Coppi and Costante Girardengo as he out-sprinted Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) who swapped positions in the lead of the points competition with the Frenchman now 11 points ahead of the German. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) retained the Maglia Rosa for the sixth day running.

Just like yesterday, the break went early. Marco Frapporti (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Damiano Cima (Nippo-Fantini-Faizanè) took a maximum lead of 6 minutes. At the intermediate sprint Démare took the points ahead of Ackermann for the lead. The break was caught 26K out from the finish and sprinter teams took over. A late attack by Christian Knees (Ineos) failed as CCC pulled him back. Groupama-FDJ took over 3k out, but they were swamped by Bora-Hansgrohe. Ackermann started the sprint, but Caleb Ewan came past on his right for the win. Démare finished in second place, Ackermann was third and Elia Viviani finished in fourth place. Valerio Conti still has an overall lead of 1:50 over Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Nans Peters (AG2R-La Mondiale) is third at 2:21.

Third stage win at the Giro for Caleb Ewan after stage 7 to Alberobello in 2017 and stage 8 to Pesaro this year. It’s the 33rd victory for Australian riders at the Giro. The last Australian to win two stages in a single Giro was Michael Rogers in 2014 on stage 11 to Savona and stage 20 to Monte Zoncolan. Caleb Ewan is the first Australian to win three stages of the Giro before turning 25. Michael Matthews got two: stage 6 to Montecassino in 2014 and stage 3 to Sestri Levante in 2015. Six days in the lead of the Giro d’Italia for Valerio Conti, it’s the same number as Luigi Ganna, the first ever winner of the Giro in 1909.

PEZ Stage 11 Race Report HERE.

Stage winner, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal): “Just like yesterday, today’s stage wasn’t too hard to ride. It takes a little bit out of the legs but compared to some of the other stages, it was still an easy day. We did not choose for a full lead-out because we knew there was going to be a headwind sprint. So we decided it would probably be better to come from behind. I like to do my sprints like that so it was ideal. My teammates got me into a good position and I really have to thank them for that. But Roger Kluge and Jasper De Buyst were still important today because they had to make the final kilometers as easy as possible for me and that’s what made the difference today, I think. Because of the headwind, it maybe felt like a long sprint but it was really well-timed. To get your timing right was crucial today, more so because of the headwind than of the slightly uphill finish, so I really wanted to wait as long as possible. I don’t think it was really uphill at all, to be honest. I am happy that I came to the Giro, the succession of the long and sometimes challenging stages will have done me good, condition-wise. Of course, I am going home with a great feeling. I came into the Giro and I really wanted to win one stage. To get two is more than I expected, so I am really satisfied with that and I am happy with how the team rode as well. I finished inside the top four on seven occasions. On day two, our lead-out was perfect, two days later I was beaten by a strong Carapaz in Frascati and on day eight, I could raise my arms in the air for the first time. This Giro was also very important to optimize the collaboration with Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge and we certainly got the chance to do so. Besides, the rest of the team also cooperated very well. I think it makes sense that the sprinters leave the Giro prematurely. From now on, there are virtually only tough stages left, so not very suited to us. I think that the organization prefers to have to best sprinters at the start. Although they do not finish the Giro, it still guarantees some nice battles in the flat stages. I will take some days of rest now and then go on a training camp to prepare for the Tour.”

Overall leader, Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates): “My goal last winter was to prepare for one-week races and I did well at Vuelta San Juan in Argentina and second at the Tour of Turkey but the third week of the Giro is an unknown for me. I’ve never ridden for GC in a Grand Tour. To make the top 10 overall would be an important thing but firstly, I have to defend the Maglia Rosa tomorrow.”

2nd on the stage and points competition leader, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “The difference was a headwind today, and there was a narrowing of the road with 750m to go. That is where it became difficult for my lead-out men to take me to the line. The jersey is a consolation prize. Now we will start another Giro. In the mountains it will be a different task to defend the jersey.”

3rd on the stage, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I’ve obviously had better days on the bike. In the morning I had a lot of pain, and in the race it was a little bit better, but I really suffered out there. In the end, I wanted to prove that I was able to be competitive. The guys did a perfect job. Perhaps I went a bit too early in the headwind, but I am really happy with this third place. It was hard fought for and I’m happy to still be here.”

4th on the stage, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I am disappointed, it has not been a success. I don’t know why it doesn’t work. The first stages I felt strong, but then I lost something. I probably need some rest. I found it very nice to be with the fans during the Giro start and to experience the presentation, but when I got on my bike something was wrong. It is not my Giro. That declassification certainly plays a role, one hundred percent. I was strong and confident to get through it. But because of all the talk around it, I had a lot on my mind. I have to rest now. My Giro is now done. I am disappointed: if you have set a goal and you cannot achieve it, then you better stop and work towards the next goal.”

Giro d’Italia Stage 11 Result:
1. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal in 5:17:26
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
5. Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
6. Simone Consonni (Ita) UAE-Team Emirates
7. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
8. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
9. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC
10. Sean Bennett (USA) EF Education First,

Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 11:
1. Valerio Conti (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 45:02:05
2. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma at 1:50
3. Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:21
4. José Rojas (Spa) Movistar at 2:33
5. Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 2:36
6. Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar at 2:39
7. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC at 3:05
8. Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 3:27
9. Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani-CSF at 3:30
10. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Astana at 3:32.

Giro stage 11:

Canyon dhb retake OVO Energy Tour Series Lead on Wirral
Matt Bostock snatched his first ever OVO Energy Tour Series race win to propel his Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes team back into the lead of the Series with two rounds to go. The Isle of Man cyclist sprinted to victory ahead of teammates Robert Jon McCarthy and Ollie Wood as the team snatched four of the top five spots on Hamilton Square in Birkenhead.

21-year-old Bostock headed home a bunch sprint after 36 laps of flat out racing around 1.3 kilometer Birkenhead circuit with the high pace proving a war of attrition under the sunny Wirral skies. Victory in the team competition moves Canyon dhb p/b Bloor Homes back into the OVO Energy Green Jerseys on count-back over Madison Genesis with two rounds remaining.

Earlier in the afternoon Rebecca Durrell has claimed her second OVO Energy Tour Series race win, denying Jo Tindley (Campinense Velo Performance) a first win by just 0.023, with Durrell only discovering she had won on completing her warming down lap.

Durrell’s victory moved her Brother UK Tifosi p/b OnForm team two points clear of Team Breeze with the impressive form of Tindley’s Anglo-Portugese squad Campinense Velo Performance keeping them third, five points off the pace.

The penultimate round of the men’s and women’s OVO Energy Tour Series takes place in Salisbury city centre on Thursday 23 May, with a 1.5 kilometer circuit centered on the historic Market Square. The OVO Energy Tour Series then concludes on Saturday 25 May with the final men’s and women’s races at the famous Brooklands location in Surrey, where the first mass start cycle races took place in 1907. Racing in the OVO Energy Tour Series will take place on the Brooklands Community Park circuit.

Highlights of the OVO Energy Tour Series are screened on ITV4 and broadcast around the world. Action from the Birkenhead event will be shown at 18:00 on Thursday 23 May, with the program also available on demand via the ITV Hub catch up service.

Hammer is Back! Stavanger Preview and How to Watch
This Friday, the Hammer Series returns for the first event of the 2019 season as 16 of the best teams in the world line up in Stavanger, Norway.

Unlike traditional racing, the Hammer Series is a unique race format with no individual rider ranking. At Hammer, it’s all about the collective performance as the teams go all-out in the Hammer Climb, Sprint and Chase disciplines. You will find all the teams’ line-ups for Hammer Stavanger right here.

Last year, Mitchelton-SCOTT won Hammer Stavanger before going on to win the overall Hammer Series as well. Deceuninck – Quick-Step finished second overall, while Team Sunweb took third place. Click here to see the 2018 results.

As usual, the Hammer Series will be streamed live and free worldwide on HammerSeries.com and its social media channels.

For all information about the event, go to the Hammer Series website or click here.

Hammer Stavanger 2019:
Friday, May 24, 19:00 – 21:00 CET:
The opening day of racing – the Hammer Climb – takes place on an undulating 8.9 km circuit with a steep finish on Grisabakken, which is covered nine times. The actual ascent isn’t very long but with gradients over 20%, it will make for spectacular views as the riders fight their way towards the top to score points for their teams.

Saturday, May 25, 16:15 – 18:15 CET:
The Hammer Sprint takes the teams on an action-packed trip around the city center of Stavanger. The nine laps on the 9.3 km flat circuit, will favor the fast riders as they sprint for points on the finish line of every lap.

Sunday, May 26, 15:50 – 18:05 CET:
The big finale comes with the Hammer Chase, a team time trial pursuit taking place over three laps on a 16.3 km scenic circuit around Stavanger. It includes all the major landmarks and has a longer passage alongside Hafrsfjord, showing off the iconic Swords in Rock monument. The first team to cross the finish line will win Hammer Stavanger.

How to watch:
The Hammer Series is free to watch worldwide at the following sites:

Hammer Series website: https://www.hammerseries.com/watch-live
Hammer Series on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HammerSeries
Hammer Series on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HammerSeries
Hammer Series on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HammerSeriesAllOut

Hammerseries, 02-06-2017 Vaals , climbstage

UAE Team Emirates for the First Round of the Hammer Series
The Hammer Series is back, the new Velon race format, which also for 2019 will feature 3 different races for each event.
The UAE Team Emirates will line up on May 24 to 26 in Stavanger, Norway.

The races include:
May 24, Hammer Climb, test for climbers – 80 km.
May 25, Hammer Sprint, 87.3km sprint test.
May 26, Hammer Chase, 48.9km team pursuit.
This is the formation of the Emirates team:
Bystrøm Sven Erik (Norway), Ferrari Roberto (Italy), Kristoff Alexander (Norway), Mirza Yousif (UAE), Mori Manuele (Italy), Riabushenko Aleksandr (Belarus).
Sports Director: Simone Pedrazzini (Switzerland).

The UAE Team Emirates captain will be Kristoff, racing at home. He said, “It’s my home race, I know all the roads and possible weather problems, as well. The Hammer Series is difficult to prepare for because it is totally different from other races. It’s a hard and intense commitment, but also a good opportunity for the team to improve and try something new, as well as a show for all the fans”.

Sunweb to Hammer Stavanger
Arthur van Dongen – Team Sunweb coach: “Hammer Series is a really important race for us as a team and after finishing second here last year, we’re even more motivated and hungry to take the win this year. The kick off in Stavanger later this week will be a tough first test, but we’ve got a great team to hopefully bring us a solid result. We aim to be in a strong position after the Climb and the Sprint, ultimately going for the top result in the Chase on the final day. Our huge motivator is the thought of doing it completely as a team, and getting to stand on the podium all together as one.”

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN), Nikias Arndt (GER), Marc Hirschi (SWI), Casper Pedersen (DEN), Michael Storer (AUS), Max Walscheid (GER).

Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Hammer Stavanger
Yves Lampaert and Remco Evenepoel will be in action at the first Hammer Series appointment of the season.

Hammer Stavanger kicks off this Friday, in Norway, where over three spectacular days, the second edition of the event will once again pit five-man teams against each other to determine the best squad. The first race will take place over an undulating course, starting at Madlaveien, just outside of the Stavanger Forum, and finishing at Grisabakken (20% maximum gradient), an 8.9km-long hill climb circuit comprising of nine and a half wearing laps.

On the second day, which will give the fast men the chance to score vital points and help their outfits, the peloton will head towards the Stavanger city center and take on a slightly downhill parcours. The first appointment of the third Hammer Series season will conclude on Sunday, when a hard team time trial held over a rolling terrain, in which the start order will be based on the points accumulated over the previous days, will determine the final general classification.

UCI World Team Ranking leader Deceuninck – Quick-Step will be at the start again, with a solid five-man squad consisting of neo-pro Remco Evenepoel, Alvaro Hodeg, Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Davide Martinelli and Petr Vakoc.

“The first two days will be very important to get into a good position for the Hammer Chase. For the Hammer Climb, we can play our cards with several riders, before going for points with Alvaro and Davide, twenty-four hours later, in the Sprint. The 48.9km time trial on the last day won’t be easy, especially as we have to race it with just five riders, but we are confident that we can pull off a nice result at the end of the weekend”, said sports director Tom Steels.

24.05–26.05 Hammer Stavanger (NOR) 2.1

Remco Evenepoel (BEL), Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (COL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Davide Martinelli (ITA), Petr Vakoc (CZE).
Sports Director: Tom Steels (BEL).

Remco Evenepoel:

CCC Team Motivated for a Strong Start at Hammer Stavanger
The Hammer Series gets underway this Friday (May 24th) with the three-day Hammer Stavanger, where CCC Team will be motivated to score as many points as possible in the innovative and action-packed race.

Hammer Stavanger, the first of three Hammer Series races this year, features the three Hammer disciplines – Hammer Climb, Hammer Sprint, and Hammer Chase. The former two are points races, which take place on a hilly and flat circuit respectively and in which riders attempt to score points for their teams. The latter is a team time trial pursuit, with the first team to cross the line crowned the winning team. The higher the team is on the leaderboard after the first two disciplines, the higher they are placed on the start line of the TTT.

CCC Team is sending a strong and motivated roster to Norway, with some punchy and explosive riders, Sports Director Jackson Stewart explains. “I think we have a strong and motivated group going into the Hammer Stavanger. The Hammer Series format is very unique and with this style of racing it’s always difficult to predict what will happen but, I believe we have a versatile lineup to tackle the specific demands of the different events. In both Hammer Climb and Hammer Sprint we will have to be aggressive in order to obtain points for the start order in the Hammer Chase. There have not been too many team time trials this year so, I don’t know what to expect in Stavanger but, we know the course, and we have great equipment so, we are motivated to do well in the closing race.”

Serge Pauwels will make his debut in the Hammer Series and is very excited to see how he can help the team in this format. “I had a little break after the Tour de Yorkshire but, I also had a good block of training going into Hammer Stavanger. I am looking forward to take on this race and kick off my second part of the season. Even though the race in Stavanger will be my first Hammer Series and the concept is quite new to me, I think we will see some aggressive racing and this is something that I like. We are bringing strong riders with a lot of horsepower to Stavanger so, this should help us in all three events, especially in the team time trial, in which we want to perform exceptionally well,” Pauwels said.

Hammer Stavanger will play a significant role in Łukasz Wiśniowski‘s preparation for the next part of the season. “I’m coming to Norway straight from Sierra Nevada, where I spent one week, training at altitude, and Hammer Stavanger will be an important part of my preparation for the next races. The short and intense efforts that await us in the upcoming days will come in handy later in the season and will help me improve my form. I’ve never raced the Hammer Series, so I’m looking forward to such an interesting and unique type of racing,” Wiśniowski explained.

Hammer Stavanger (24-26 May)
Rider Roster:

Serge Pauwels (BEL), Szymon Sajnok (POL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Łukasz Wiśniowski (POL)
Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart

Serge Pauwels:

Preview Hammer Series Stavanger and Tour of Norway
The third edition of the Hammer Series begins in the Norwegian city of Stavanger, from Friday 24 May until Sunday 26 May. This three-day event is an innovative race in which not an individual rider, but a team will win. Last year, Lotto Soudal finished ninth in this part of the Hammer Series. Sports director Mario Aerts explains the concept of this race and also the line-up of Lotto Soudal.

Mario Aerts, sports director at Lotto Soudal: “The Hammer Series consists of three parts: the Hammer Climb, the Hammer Sprint and the Hammer Chase. The goal is to score as much points as possible as a team during the first two days. Each lap the first ten riders earn points and in laps three, six and ten, double points are awarded. Based on the points classification after two days, the teams will start the team time trial in reverse order on the final day. This will be split up in an A-final and a B-final. The team that wins the A-final, takes the overall win of the Hammer Series Stavanger.”

“Especially in the Hammer Climb, we are taking part with a strong team including Tim Wellens, Bjorg Lambrecht, Carl Fredrik Hagen and Sander Armée. For the Hammer Sprint, we count on the fast legs of Lawrence Naesen. I think we have a slightly stronger line-up than last year. Our main goal is reach the A-group on Sunday. I have been present at every edition so far and I like the concept. It is short and still exciting from start to finish. All riders with whom I spoke about this, were enthusiastic as well.”

The Tour of Norway is a race that is part of the Europe Tour. This new six-day stage race was created after the Tour of Norway and the Tour des Fjords merged. It takes place from Tuesday 28 May until Sunday 2 June, which is right after the Hammer Series Stavanger. That is why six out of seven Lotto Soudal riders also take part in this stage race, Rémy Mertz does not participate. The course stretches over the entire southern coast of Norway. Last year, Bjorg Lambrecht finished second in the general classification of the Tour des Fjords, after winning the final stage. Michael Albasini won the overall, while Eduard Prades won the Tour of Norway. Mario Aerts looks ahead and talks about Lotto Soudal’s ambitions.

Mario Aerts: “The course looks mostly the same every day. I suppose that it will often be a sprint finish or a sprint of a reduced peloton at the end. That perfectly suits local riders like Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alexander Kristoff. Who our sprinter will be, depends on how the race unfolds. Not only Lawrence Naesen is fast, but also Bjorg Lambrecht and Tim Wellens have a strong sprint after a tough day. On top of that, Nikolas Maes has a lot of experience in preparing bunch sprints. The last two stages seem to be the most difficult ones in theory, but I think that the final day in particular will be decisive for the overall. It will not be easy, but I think we should aim for that. The riders will pass through the beautiful Norwegian nature. The landscapes of mountains and water, seen from the car, are stunning. It is of course less enjoyable when it rains.”

“Tim Wellens had a rest period after the Classics and went to Dubai to test himself in the heat. I have no doubt that Tim will be in great shape, because he is actually good throughout the whole season. Bjorg Lambrecht had a busy race schedule with the Vuelta a Catalunya, the Itzulia Basque Country and the Ardennes Classics. Bjorg was in excellent shape at the end of that period, so he will probably be at the same level again soon. After a deserved break for both, they will be returning to competition now. Besides, Carl Fredrik Hagen will be proud to ride across his home country for a WorldTour team in front of his family, friends and fans. So it will surely be special for him.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Bjorg Lambrecht, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz (only Hammer Series), Lawrence Naesen and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Frederik Willems.

Tim Welens:

Tolhoek, Kuss and Bouwman extend contract with Team Jumbo-Visma
Team Jumbo-Visma has extended the contracts of three riders who are currently riding the Giro d’Italia. Antwan Tolhoek (25), Koen Bouwman (25) and Sepp Kuss (24) will all ride for the team of general manager Richard Plugge until 2021. In Italy, the trio is riding for the team’s leader Primoz Roglic, who’s now second in the general classification.

“I feel at home in this team”, Bouwman explains his contract extension. “Since the first race I rode as a professional, I have been part of this team.” Just like Bouwman, Kuss never considered to change teams. “They gave each one of us the confidence that we can make the steps to develop”, the American said. “It’s a really fair team. It makes sense to stay with that progression.”

Tolhoek agrees. “Everyone has been riding here for a long time already. That’s for a good reason. In this team, people work to make everyone better. That’s why I think we all want to stay. This results in us occasionally standing out. We hope to do that more often in the future”, the Dutchman, who rode the Vuelta and Tour before, said.

Plugge is happy with the contract extension of his pupils. “They’ve developed here and they’re showing amazing things. They are growing into sidekicks for one of the biggest contenders here in the Giro d’Italia. I think it’s very cool that this has grown so much in our organization.”

CCC Team Extends with Nathan Van Hooydonck Through to 2021
Nathan Van Hooydonck will remain in CCC Team colors through to 2021 with the team adding an additional year to his existing contract, which was set to conclude at the end of the 2020 season.

The 23-year-old Belgian rider originally joined the team through the BMC Development Team program in 2015, before graduating to the WorldTour halfway through the 2017 season, from which point he has played an integral role in CCC Team’s Classics team.

CCC Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the decision to extend Van Hooydonck’s contract now, rather than next year, is a sign of the team’s confidence in Van Hooydonck and acknowledgment of his role in the team.

“We are pleased to announce that we have extended Nathan Van Hooydonck’s contract through to the 2021 season. Nathan’s growth and development from the BMC Development Team days to where he is now has led us to believe he is a rider with big talent and a great future ahead of him. He has consistently proved himself as a valuable domestique to Greg Van Avermaet during the Classics and is more than capable of going for his own result in these races,” Ochowicz said.

“We are looking forward to helping Nathan develop further as a rider and we are excited to see what he can do. Nathan has been with the team for a while now so it’s easy to forget how young he is. At just 23-years-old, Nathan has a long and bright career ahead of him and we believe CCC Team is a great fit for a rider of his caliber.”

Nathan Van Hooydonck is looking forward to spending the next couple of years with CCC Team.

“When Jim Ochowicz called me after Paris-Roubaix to tell me that the team wanted to extend my contract and asked me if I wanted to stay, I was really happy and it was an easy decision to make. I feel appreciated in the team for the work I do and with this contract extension, the team must see some potential in me which is a huge confidence boost,” Van Hooydonck explained.

“The main reason to stay with CCC Team is that it feels like home and the riders around me in the Classics group are so experienced, so I am in a great position to learn from them. This season, I already felt that I made a good step forward and in the next seasons I want to continue that and be with Greg Van Avermaet in the finals of the Classics. I would also like to go for my own result in the smaller races, that is my ambition and I hope in a few years, I can be a leader in the bigger races too.”

Nathan Van Hooydonck at Roubaix:

Team Sunweb sign Andreas Leknessund to the WorldTour program from 2021
Team Sunweb are pleased to announce the signing of Andreas Leknessund to the WorldTour program for 2021 and 2022.

An exceptional talent, Leknessund joins the team from Uno-X Norwegian Development Team. Initially he burst onto the scene as a first year junior where he delivered some strong results in 2016. However, it was his 2017 performances that really stood out when he claimed seven victories to his name; including both the Norwegian and European TT titles, along with the overall win at Tour du Pays de Vaud.

He has also proved to be a versatile rider, coming second at this year’s edition of the U23 Gent Wevelgem, then following up with second overall at the really tough Circuit des Ardennes stage race.

Leknessund said of the signing: “For me it’s an honor to have the opportunity to ride for this team. With the way that they work and the plan that they have for me, I can tell that it’s the best environment for me to develop as a young rider. Signing the contract this early shows their confidence in me and allows me to just focus on my development over the next couple of years, instead of stressing to find a team. Now I can relax and know that I have a good contract already in place and focus on what’s important.”

Team Sunweb coach and scouting coordinator Hans Timmermans added: “Andreas is a multi-talented rider, with his main strength being the big motor that he has. He can also climb well which makes him a well-rounded rider and one that can challenge on a multitude of terrain. He was close to the win this year at U23 Gent-Wevelgem which highlights just that: his diversity as a rider. We have had our eyes on him since the junior ranks and Andreas has already joined a training camp with our team in 2018. We are confident in his talent and are all looking forward to working with him in the future.”

Andreas Leknessund:

Mikkel Honoré and James Knox: Discovering the Giro d’Italia
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Grand Tour debutants sat down to share their experience so far, talk of the rigors of a three-week race, the advice they’ve got from the other members of #TheWolfpack, and their hopes and objectives as they continue the journey to Verona, where the Corsa Rosa is set to conclude.

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