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Patrick Lefevere’s Jakobsen/Cavendish Tour dilemma – TOP STORY. All the action from the UAE Tour. Rider news: Annemiek van Vleuten dedicates victory to Amy Pieters and soigneur, Tom Dumoulin questions corona protocols, Marc Hirschi returns after hip surgery, Wout van Aert to ride Omloop with ambition, Lizzie Deignan pregnant, Soudal and Quick-Step together till 2027, Geraint Thomas not riding Flemish Classics, Nairo Quintana to miss Ardèche Classic and Mathieu van der Poel increases his training. Team news: Mathieu van der Poel to ride the Giro d’Italia? Alejandro Valverde resumes racing, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, AG2R Citroën, DSM and BikeExchange-Jayco to the opening weekend. Race news: Teams and riders for Paris-Nice and Critérium du Dauphiné teams and route. Plus a bit of onboard highlights from the UAE Tour. Where is that coffee?

top story
TOP STORY: Lefevere’s Jakobsen/Cavendish Tour Dilemma
Fabio Jakobsen was told before the season that he will be Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s sprint ace in the Tour de France. And Mark Cavendish, the winner of 34 Tour stages is on the reserve bench, but team manager Patrick Lefevere certainly doesn’t rule out that the British sprinter will participate in the French Grand Tour this year.

Jakobsen, who is back after his horror crash in the Tour of Poland and has won four times already this season, will make his first appearance in the Tour this year. In an interview with WielerFlits, Jakobsen said about Cavendish: “He knows that the Tour is my goal and that he will ride the Giro. But he is ready as a reserve. He can do that like no other. And I think he’s happy with that role. But uh… His contract was of course only signed at the end of December. Then the first planning had already been made. Although Patrick had said it before, of course.”

Lefevere was again asked on Monday, after Cavendish’s victory in the UAE Tour, about the team for the Tour de France. The Belgian team boss is still considering a scenario in which Cavendish will participate in the Tour. “I do know that Fabio said on the media day in Calpe at the beginning of January that he should go to the Tour, but I have a long list. I don’t like to answer such questions today,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

“I am not Madame Soleil (a French fortune teller),” continues Lefevere. “So much can still happen. See last year… The best goes to the Tour. Cavendish is already on the list of the Giro. Then we’ll see. Let’s start another part of the season this weekend,” referring to the Flemish Opening Weekend.

Brian Holm, who is in his final year as a sports director with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, spoke about the problem with Velonews. “Nothing is certain yet. Fabio is first on the list, but that is also because Cavendish decided quite late to sign. We even thought for a moment that he was going to stop. For now, Fabio, who is actually flying at the moment, is scheduled for the Tour. But now Cavendish is back. It remains to be seen who will have the fastest legs. Look at what happened to Sam Bennett last year. Nobody expected that.”

Jakobsen or/and Cavendish to the Tour:
jakobsen cavendish


uae tour

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UAE Tour 2022
Mark Cavendish won the Second Stage of the UAE Tour on Monday. In Abu Dhabi he managed to hold off Jasper Philipsen in the bunch sprint. Pascal Ackermann crossed the line in third place and Olav Kooij was fourth.

uae 22 st2

The second stage was as flat as a billiard table, so there were opportunities again for the fast finishers. The stage took place in and around Abu Dhabi City, with the start on the island of Al Hudayriat and the finish at Abu Dhabi Breakwater. After a long battle, three men were able to form the break of the day.

The three riders were all from the Gazprom-RusVelo team: Pavel Kochetkov, Czech champion Michael Kukrle and Dmitry Strakhov, third in the general classification and leader of the intermediate sprint classification. They managed to take a 2 minutes on the peloton. After 45 kilometres, INEOS Grenadiers and Israel-Premier Tech lifted the speed and a few riders were in trouble at the back, but within 10 kilometres peace returned and most of the dropped men were able to return. After 62 kilometres another attempt was made to cause echelons, but again everything came together. These accelerations brought the gap for the three down to 1 minute. The peloton eased off and the escape soon had 2 minutes again. At 90 kilometres from the finish, Jumbo-Visma along with some other teams, started a proper chase.

In the final 50 kilometres the gap started to narrow and with just under 40 kilometres to go the lead was only 30 seconds, Kochetkov, Kukrle and Strakhov, who had taken 6 bonus second, were prepared to be caught, which happened at 36 kilometres out. Alpecin-Fenix ​​was in control, but the speed was low, due a strong headwind containing desert sand. With 32 kilometres to go, Groupama-FDJ took the lead, but there was still not a lot of speed. At 20 kilometres from the finish, the peloton suddenly got organised and the sprint preparations began. The lead-out trains took their positions for their leaders. The wide roads towards Abu Dhabi Breakwater were taken at a fast pace. After the quiet technical final, Cavendish started a long sprint and managed to hold Jasper Philipsen off. Philipsen remains overall leader.

uae 22 st2

Stage winner and 3rd overall, Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl): “Being in Abu Dhabi always feels special and winning a stage here it’s even more so. I knew I was capable of getting more wins, and this victory, my first World Tour one of the year, gives me a lot of confidence not just for the remaining stages of the UAE Tour, but also for the next races. I want to thank the team for their work today. We have a young squad here, with two neo-pros, but we all believe in each other, and all the guys did a great job in bringing me to the finish as fresh as possible. It was again very hectic, but we remained calm, and feeling that good allowed me to launch my sprint from 250 meters to go, despite the headwind. I had the energy to maintain my sprint all the way to the line and I’m happy with the way things went for us today.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix): “I was missing just a few watts today. I was a bit far back at the end but I just had to go. I knew it was going to be a tough sprint because of the headwind and Mark was the fastest today. I’m a bit disappointed but we’ll try to go for the win again in the next sprint.”

3rd on the stage and 5th overall, Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates): “It was a nervous start with a lot of wind so it was important to move together as a team and stay protected. After we survived the crosswind we worked towards the sprint. Richeze did a great job and brought me up perfectly to the wheel of Cavendish. Unluckily I couldn’t finish it off because I got a bit blocked but I’m happy that we were able to be up with the other sprinters and it gives me confidence for the last two sprints that are coming. Now we’ll work towards the GC for the next couple if days.”

4th overall, Sam Bennett (BORA-hansgrohe): “It was a nervous day in the peloton due to the wind conditions. Because I’m not yet at full fitness, I had to be careful here. The guys were really amazing. Ryan, Shane and Danny did an incredible job to set me up for the finale, and they brought me into a good position. However, when it came down to the last moment, I just wasn’t able to launch my sprint as I had hoped. But we’re here to practice and we’re already working very well in our second race together, so it’s only up from here.”

UAE Tour Stage 2 Result:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in 4:20:45
2. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates
4. Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Gazprom-RusVelo
7. Emils Liepins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
8. Tom Devreindt (Bel) Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert
9. Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Lotto Soudal
10. Marijn van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 2:
1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix in 9:03:03
2. Dmitry Strakhov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo at 0:04
3. Mark Cavendish (GB) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl at 0:06
4. Sam Bennett (Irl) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:10
5. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) UAE Team Emirates at 0:12
6. Elia Viviani (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers
7. Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF-Faizane
8. Michael Kukrle (Cze) Gazprom-RusVelo
9. Xandres Vervloesem (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:14
10. Pavel Kochetkov (Rus) Gazprom-RusVelo.

UAE Tour’22 stage 2:


World time trial champion, Filippo Ganna, didn’t win the Stage 3 race against the clock, but Stefan Bissegger took the honours. The Swiss time trial specialist was 7 seconds faster than the Italian top favourite after a flat 9 kilometres. Tom Dumoulin finished in third place and was the best placed of the GC riders.

uae tour 22 st3

Tuesday’s stage was a pan-flat time trial over 9 kilometres in Ajman. The course was very fast, with a U-turn at the halfway point, an ideal course for Filippo Ganna. Artyom Zakharov (Astana Qazaqstan) was the first to roll off the start, but didn’t set the world on fire. Mikkel Bjerg rode an excellent time trial, but he has been World champion three times in this discipline. With a time of 10:07 he took his place in the hot seat, but the top men had still to start.

Stefan Bissegger was the best in a race against the clock last year in Paris-Nice and the Benelux Tour and also managed to set a time of 9:43, 24 seconds faster than Bjerg and set the bar high for the other TT specialists. Ganna has already been the best in two time trials this year, in the Étoile de Bessèges and the Tour de La Provence, but today the two-time World champion received a rare defeat. At the first intermediate point the difference was very small, Ganna had only lost 1 second on Bissegger, but the Italian surprisingly lost another 6 seconds in the second part of the time trial, for a finishing time of 9:50. The only rider that might better Bissegger was Tom Dumoulin.

The reigning Dutch champion got off to a good start, recorded a good time at 4.5 kilometres and 9:57 at the finish. He was 13 seconds slower than Bissegger, but is looking good for a possible overall victory. Overall leader Philipsen ​had no illusions, although he did ride an excellent time trial. With a time of 10:11, he finished 10th on the day, but lost the leader’s jersey to Bissegger. Dumoulin took 4 seconds from defending champion Tadej Pogačar (10:01). João Almeida (10:05) and Aleksandr Vlasov (10:08) also managed to limit their losses, as did Adam Yates (10:12). Romain Bardet (10:29), Jai Hindley (10:35) and Jan Hirt (10:44), have probably lost their overall chances.

uae tour 22 st3

Stage winner and overall leader, Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-EasyPost): “I had a really good time trial today. I was pretty confident that I had good power and could do a good time. You never know in time trials how good your opponents are until the end though. I’m happy to race here as I had a rough winter recovering from a broken bone. For the moment I’m the leader in the GC, we’ll see about tomorrow.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers): “I put in a good performance. The average power was more than planned and in the end I can only say, chapeau Bissegger: that was a nice ride. I felt good and also in the coming days I will be ready to help Adam (Yates). Starting on the climb of tomorrow.”

3rd on the stage and 4th overall, Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma): “I am definitely satisfied with this performance. I end up behind two absolute specialists. So I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The course was tailor-made for them. I personally prefer a slightly longer trail with more hills. All the more happy I can be with today’s result. It’s good to race on a track like this once in a while. It gives me confidence that I was able to ride the other GC riders over a small gap. There are a lot of guys who are right behind me, but today I put myself in a good position for the rest of the week. I look forward to the coming days with a good feeling.”

4th on the stage and 5th overall, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “It was a really fast course with a big tail wind on the way out and then on the way back it was just down to raw power. I did my strongest 10 minutes ever so I’m pretty happy, it was a good day out and we’re looking strong for the next days. Joao and Mikkel were well up there today also so in the team the guys are all up around the top. We’re all feeling good and in fine shape for the rest of this race. Tomorrow the first mountain stage will be another big test.”

8th on the stage and overall, Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe): “I finished in the top 10 and I think that’s a good result for me. This was the first time trial of this year and so I can be pleased with my performance. It was tough today as I had headwind on the way back which made the race challenging, so I know I had to try to save some energy for the finale. All in all, however I am very satisfied with today’s result.”

UAE Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-EasyPost in 9:43
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:07
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 0:14
4. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 0:18
5. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:22
6. Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates at 0:24
7. Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana Qazaqstan
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:25
9. Johan Price Pejtersen (Den) Bahrain Victorious at 0:26
10. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:28.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-EasyPost in 9:13:02
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:07
3. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:12
4. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 0:14
5. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates at 0:18
6. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:22
7. Stefan De Bod (RSA) Astana Qazaqstan at 0:24
8. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:25
9. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:28
10. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:29

UAE Tour’22 stage 3:


The first mountain stage of the UAE Tour was won by Tadej Pogačar on Wednesday. On the final climb to Jebel Jais on Stage 4 it came down to a sprint from a select group and the Slovenian convincingly beat Adam Yates and Aleksandr Vlasov. Tom Dumoulin was dropped and Pogačar also took the overall leader.

uae tour22 st4

Wednesday saw the first of two uphill finishes in the UAE Tour. A flat run of about 160 kilometres would be followed by the climb of the Jebel Jais. This well-known climb is about 20 kilometres long and has an average gradient of around 5%.

The early break consisted of just two riders: Trek-Segafredo’s Jakob Egholm and Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè’s Luca Rastelli. The peloton did not consider the duo a danger and gave them a large lead. It wasn’t until they were close to 8 minutes that EF Education-EasyPost picked up the pace. While Mark Cavendish and Michael Mørkøv had to return after a crash, in which Cavendish was injured, the gap slowly but surely narrowed. Forty kilometres from the finish, Egholm and Rastelli had three pursuers: Jasper Philipsen, Jonas Rickaert (both Alpecin-Fenix) and Dmitry Strakhov (Gazprom-RusVelo). Philipsen had taken the points at the intermediate sprint and rode on with his companions, but in the end the trio were caught. Egholm and Rastelli were the first to start the final climb. They only had 30 seconds lead and were caught with 18 kilometres to go. On the climb to Jebel Jais, UAE Team Emirates took over from EF Education-EasyPost. First Mikkel led Bjerg, then George Bennett pushed on. The pace of the New Zealander narrowed the peloton bit by bit. When Bennett stopped chasing with 8.5 kilometres to go and Rafał Majka pulled through, it went even faster. Tom Dumoulin was dropped because of the acceleration. He eventually lost minutes and now has no chance for the overall victory.

Dumoulin cracking was the signal for Tadej Pogačar to attack. After a short attack, the Slovenian dropped back into the group. Then some other riders tried. While Bissegger had to pass, Filippo Ganna held on strongly, a group drove away including Luke Plapp, Thymen Arensman and again Majka. The Pole was also there when, after the failure of this attempt, a new group of six men drove away. Chris Harper (Jumbo-Visma), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education-EasyPost), Gino Mäder (Bahrain Victorious), Andreas Leknessund (DSM) and Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) were also present. This leading group also did not last long as the rest returned, Taaramäe moved to the front for Jan Hirt. When the Czech took over, a group emerged with the main favourites for the stage win, including Pogačar, Adam Yates and Aleksandr Vlasov. However, it fell silent again, so that they started the last kilometre with a group of about 20 riders. In that last kilometre Luke Plapp tried to go solo, but João Almeida and Majka made sure the Australian was caught, giving Pogačar the opportunity to sprint for the win. With an impressive final jump, he not only took the stage victory, but also the leader’s jersey. Surprisingly, Filippo Ganna is now in second place overall, 2 seconds behind Pogačar.

uae22 st4

Stage winner and overall leader, Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates): “I always like to win, having succeeded makes this day beautiful for me and for the team. As a team we rode well, also trying to move with João and Rafal: the latter was the strongest climber of the group today. João and Rafal were also excellent in the final in launching me towards the sprint, the victory pays off all the work done in the past months, it’s great to start the season like this. Despite all the attacks that followed one another uphill, I saw that practically all the big names of the race remained in the leading group, so I checked that we reached the final with the compact group, since I knew it would not be possible to go solo I decided to wait for the sprint. Already in training, even after recovering from Covid-19, the sensations were very good, but in the race everything can be different; the period of the illness was not so heavy for me thankfully . I had the support of the team, they helped me and gave me peace of mind: also for this reason, today’s result is the result of an overall work of the whole team. Having a team like this gives you goosebumps.”

2nd on the stage and 4th overall, Adam Yates (INEOS Grenadiers): “Ganna in second! A top ten of climbers and then the big fella. We did a really good race. But to be honest on this climb, it’s pretty hard to get it right. With a 5% average the whole way and the wind plays a factor so we tried to be conservative today. Plappy did a great job closing moves and then his attack was impressive in the final trying to chip off for the win. And the big fella was still there! So it’s been a good day. I was with Pogacar but he’s pretty quick on this type of finish hey? It was the best we could do but we gave it a crack. Like we’ve said all along, Saturday will be the critical climb.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrohe): “When the field became reduced, I had Jai with me for support. He was really strong and countered the early moves. I felt good today and remained focused on Pogačar so as to not lose time to him. The climb wasn’t hard enough to make a big difference. But Saturday’s stage looks like a good chance and perhaps an option to attack if I have good legs there. So I think I’m in a good position now, and am pleased with how the race has gone so far.”

Luke Plapp (INEOS Grenadiers): “It was… I don’t have the words! It was good fun. I thought we controlled it pretty well. But it was too easy to ride tempo up that climb I think. Once you had a gap it was too easy for the group to ride it back. But we gave it a crack and Adam got second so it keeps us in the fight for the final day and anything can happen there. We’re still in the hunt. I had some pretty good legs today. For the first time I didn’t know where that would sit in the WorldTour, so I was pretty happy with that. But ride of the day – Pippo. It was awesome to see him do that and so nearly take the jersey.”

UAE Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 4:49:24
2. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:03
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:15
4. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:03
5. Damien Howson (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM
7. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe
8. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën
9. Jan Hirt (Cze) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
10. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious.

UAE Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 14:02:34
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:02
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:13
4. Adam Yates (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:15
5. Neilson Powless (USA) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:23
6. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates at 0:28
7. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 0:35
8. Oscar Rodriguez Garaicoechea (Spa) Movistar at 0:38
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-EasyPost at 0:40
10. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:41.

UAE Tour’22 stage 4:


Annemiek van Vleuten Dedicates Victory to Amy Pieters and Deceased Soigneur
Annemiek van Vleuten was the overall winner of the Setmana Valenciana Fémines last week. After her successful attack for the overall lead on Saturday, her team successfully controlled Sunday’s stage. The Dutch rider dedicated her victory to Amy Pieters and soigneur Gary Baños, who passed away a year ago.

Van Vleuten (Movistar) rode the last stage with ‘Stay strong Amy’ written on the right shoulder of her orange leader’s jersey and ‘Gary’ on the left. “Our soigneur Gary Baños passed away a year ago today, so that’s why I had Gary on one arm and then ‘Stay strong Amy’ on the other for Amy Pieters, who is still in the hospital. I just wanted to think about them both and dedicate my jersey to them.”

In the final stage, the Dutch rider was successfully kept out of trouble by her team and crossed the finish line in the peloton, while the sprinters fought for the win. “It was great to have the whole team around me. We never panicked; we started riding as soon as Grace Brown pulled away, kept it under two minutes and it was fine. It was really a team effort.”

She saw that her team has made a step forward compared to last year. “For some here it was the first time they defended a lead in the standings. I now see that my teammates are getting more and more experience, because they have won other similar races like Ardèche, so it’s good to see that the team is better able to defend a jersey and know how to do it.”

For Van Vleuten, the overall victory was a boost after she suffered several fractures four months ago in a heavy crash in Paris-Roubaix. “To be able to do this already… It’s so nice to start the season this way. It’s also nice to take the pressure off my shoulders, to show that both myself and the team are back. It’s also a Spanish race, which makes it an extra big goal for the team.”

The Spanish stage race is also good preparation for her goals later in the season, the Giro d’Italia (1-10 July) and the Tour de France (24-31 July). “It’s more fun to start here in the sun than in the temperatures of the Classics. You can work with the squad for four days, keep learning, process goals – which is important to learn lessons for the Giro and the Tour de France. All in all a great way to start the 2022 season!”

This weekend Van Vleuten will appear at the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and she is already excited at the thought. “I am so looking forward to racing with Emma (Norsgaard) in the Omloop! It’s really cool to ride with her, with her talent for the sprint and on a course with shorter hills than here in Valencia. But it’s also nice to see the whole team again so quickly and to get into the rhythm for the Classics.”

‘Stay strong Amy’ and ‘Gary’
valencia22 st4


Tom Dumoulin Questions Current Corona Protocols
The corona virus still has the cycling world in its grip. Due to the contagious Omikron variant, many riders have tested positive for covid, rider have not had ideal preparation for races and teams have had to start races with missing riders. Tom Dumoulin is critical of the current covid protocols.

Covid remains a hot topic through out the world and within cycling. Due to the Omikron variant, there is a significant increase in the number of infections and the cycling world is also being ravaged by the virus. Not a day goes by without a report that a rider cannot participate in a race because of an infection, which causes problems for many teams.

In conversation with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Dumoulin wonders whether the current approach is still the right one. The Jumbo-Visma rider made his statements at a press conference the day before the UAE Tour. “If you test positive here (in the United Arab Emirates), you have to be in isolation for ten days. As a result, your preparation falls into the water, just like spring. Even if you don’t suffer from symptoms. There are still more or less the same rules as two years ago, when the virus was much more deadly and there were no vaccines yet. That is strange to say the least. It can cause problems,” said Dumoulin, who also realises that it is not easy to adjust the protocols. “It has more to do with the guidelines of different countries/states. I don’t know if the cycling world can really change anything.”

Filippo Ganna also had his say on the subject, but the Italian from INEOS Grenadiers kept a little more subtle. “Fortunately, it seems that most corona cases are asymptomatic. That’s important, but it’s not our job to set the rules. We stick to the guidelines. In the future there will be room to map out whether we have made the right choices. The decisions that are made are made for the good of society. And not for the good of the individual.”

Domoulon wants change:


Marc Hirschi Returns After Hip Surgery in Settimana Coppi e Bartali
There is a chance that Marc Hirschi will start his season at the end of March in the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. The UAE Team Emirates Swiss rider is currently recovering from hip surgery he underwent late last year.

In preparation for the season, Hirschi, who suffered a painful hip last autumn, announced that he would be sidelined until March due to the operation. “If I were to race before that, the risks and consequences of a possible crash would be too great,” he said at the beginning of January.

Sources at UAE Team Emirates told La Gazzetta that Hirschi is working towards his competition form in the Sierra Nevada. He is there with some teammates on training camp. The Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali (March 22-26) has been cited as the race where he may make his comeback, but there are other options. It is not yet known whether Hirschi can start the hilly classics in April.

Marc Hirschi returns soon:
Marc Hirschi


Wout van Aert: “We Start in Omloop with Ambition”
Wout van Aert wants to be at his best in Milan-Sanremo. To continue that possible top form up to and including Paris-Roubaix. But that does not mean that he will start in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday without ambition. “A lot depends on the race. If we race like last year and a large group goes to the finish, we have chances.”

“My goals are later,” said Wout van Aert in an interview with WielerFlits. “I have opted for a broader base, in the hope that after the first races (Omloop and Paris-Nice) there will be some explosiveness, so that I will be at my best at Milan-San Remo.”

But that does not mean that the Belgian champion will take it easy between Gent and Ninove on Saturday. “Guys who already have two smaller stage races in their legs will have a little advantage in the opening weekend, I think. The effect of our altitude camp comes a little later and should give us that little bit extra later. The Omloop is more of a test for us to see how we can race together.”

“Of course we want to get a result. We start with ambition, but absolutely not with the knife to the throat that it should immediately be bingo. The Omloop is also a special race. Last year a large group rode to the finish. If that is also the case this year, then I assume that we will still be there with a number of guys and we will still be able to take a shot at winning. If it turns into a battlefield, we might be just that little bit short.”

Van Aert refers to last year’s Strade Bianche, which was his first road race of the spring. “I’m usually at a reasonable level after an altitude training camp, but I noticed in the Strade that I still needed that race to be at my best. I expect to be at the appointment on Saturday, but that’s a difference with winning.”

Van Aert at the opening weekend with ambition:


trek segafredo
Lizzie Deignan Pregnant with Second Child, Trek-Segafredo Extends Contract
Elizabeth Deignan is pregnant again. After she gave birth to a daughter in 2018, the British rider is expecting a second child in September. She will no longer compete in 2022, but has extended her contract with Trek-Segafredo until 2024, the team said in a press release.

“There is a baby in mummy’s tummy!” Lizzie, who is married to ex-pro Philip Deignan, wrote on her Instagram with a photo of her daughter with a pregnancy test. “We are so grateful and excited that our family is growing, baby number two is due on Orla (Deignan’s daughter) her birthday in September.”

After Deignan, nee Armitstead announced her first pregnancy in March 2018, she was out of action for the rest of the season. She returned to the peloton in April 2019, in the Amstel Gold Race. The 33-year-old rider will not be in action this year, but she does plan to race again in 2023. The winner of the first edition of Paris-Roubaix for women has extended her contract with Trek-Segafredo until the end of 2024.

“Having the opportunity to combine these two things makes me very proud. When I talked to Trek and told them about my pregnancy, I got their full support. I am a professional athlete in a professional cycling team, but the support feels very personal and I am very grateful for it,” Deignan said in the press release.

Lizzie Deignan – Second child and second Roubaix?


Patrick Lefevere: “Soudal and Quick-Step will Remain Until 2027”
Patrick Lefevere’s team will have a new main sponsor from next year. Lefevere confirmed in conversation with Het Laatste Nieuws that Soudal will make the switch to his team in 2023, as was announced during last year’s Tour de France. Soudal and Quick-Step both have a contract until the end of 2027.

The initiative to conclude a deal did not come from Lefevere, but from Soudal, who contacted Quick-Step. “I thought: what is happening now? Soudal said that they would act very correctly with Lotto, but that they did not want to continue with this team after 2022. They wanted to stay in cycling. I said I wouldn’t participate unless Soudal signed a sponsorship deal for at least five years. Everything was finished in an hour,” said the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team manager.

In 2021 Lefevere lost Deceuninck, who is now a co-sponsor with Alpecin-Fenix. Soudal will replace Deceuninck, and will remain on board until at least 2027. Because Quick-Step has also signed a similar length contract, there is certainty for a long time. “I have agreed with my sponsors that we will meet in March 2026. Then I want to hear how the sponsors see the future. If someone is not satisfied, he can leave at the end of 2027. And then I still have 21 months to decide what happens next.”

Whether Lefevere will continue after 2027 is also uncertain. “I will be 72 then. Do I go any further? Or does it stop there? Have I found people capable of continuing the squad? I already know that it will not be one person who will succeed me. Or let me put it differently: today I don’t see that one person.”

Long term security for Patrick Lefevere:


Geraint Thomas Not Riding the Flemish Classics
Geraint Thomas stated in November that he was open to the idea of ​​riding the Flemish Classics this spring. The 2015 E3 Harelbeke winner wouldn’t mind doing anything other than the Grand Tours. After the Volta ao Algarve, however, he has abandoned these plans.

According to Thomas, it was not an easy decision to ignore the Flemish Classics, he said in conversation with Het Laatste Nieuws. “A decision with a heavy heart, but due to an injury this winter, my condition is not yet good enough for the cobbled classics. I only want to race there if I’m good enough,” he explained.

Thomas’ next race, who saw his teammate Daniel Martínez race to the podium in the Volta ao Algarve, will be Tirreno-Adriatico (7-13 March). “After that, the focus will be on the Flèche Wallonne (April 20), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 24) and the Tour de Romandie (April 26-May 1) to finish me via the Tour of Switzerland (12-19 June). Steaming for the Tour de France (1-24 July).”

No cobbles this spring for Geraint Thomas:
flanders 15


Nairo Quintana to Miss Ardèche Classic
Nairo Quintana will not continue his strong season in the Faun Ardèche Classic. The Colombian, who won both the Tour de La Provence and the Tour du Haut-Var this spring, was on the list of participants for the French one-day, but now opts for a training camp. The Arkéa-Samsic rider hopes to be in top condition at the start of Paris-Nice and the Tour of Catalonia, he told Ciclismo Internacional.

“We have decided to skip the Faun Ardèche Classic so that I can do training and maintain my good form,” said Quintana. “If I were to do that race (the Ardèche Classic), I would not be guaranteed to be at an optimal level for Paris-Nice and the Tour of Catalonia.”

In the same interview, the 32-year-old climber also talked about his good start to 2022. “I had a good preparation, until I got corona. But it is true that the start of the season was very good. I haven’t felt this way for a long time.”

His good performance has several reasons, Quintana said: “I’ve been in the team for three years and we understand each other well now. I speak the language better, which allows me to communicate my needs better.” At the moment Quintana is of great value to the French team, given the large number of UCI points he is raking in. “The team has a clear interest in getting a WorldTour license next year.”

What also played a role in his latest results, according to Quintana, is his improved descending skills. “We have always trained on descending. But I used to go down less well, I was more careful. If you’re in good shape, you’re less affected and your reflexes are better,” he explained.

Quintana is in good form at the moment:


alpecin fenix
Mathieu van der Poel Increases his Training in Spain
Mathieu van der Poel is training in Spain, but “not yet with a view to a return”, sports director Philip Roodhooft recently told Telenet at the cross in Oostmalle. But the Dutchman is quietly increasing his training.

Van der Poel has been uploading his training to the cycling app Strava in recent weeks, and his training rides have been getting longer and harder. Two weeks ago, the Alpecin-Fenix ​​rider did 267 kilometres in 8 hours, a week later it was more than 500 kilometres in 17 hours. Last week, the Dutchman recorded 851 kilometres in almost 27 hours. There were also a few training rides with Victor Campenaerts and Florian Vermeersch, who will be at the start of the opening weekend this weekend, unlike Van der Poel.

The Dutchman had to rest for more than a month due to his back injury, which kept him sidelined since the cross in Heusden-Zolder at the end of December. On February 2, Van der Poel rode outside for the first time.

Mathieu van der Poel’s Training Schedule (14-20 February):
Monday: 162km, 2949metres in 5:03
Tuesday: 123km, 2198metres in 3:54
Wednesday: 132km, 2008metres in 4:10
Thursday: 145km, 2433metres in 4:39
Friday: 179km, 3428metres in 6:01
Saturday: rest day
Sunday: 108km, 1348metres in 3:09.

Spanish training for Mathieu:
van der poel


alpecin fenix
Giro d’Italia Speculates on Mathieu van der Poel’s Participation
It remains unclear when Mathieu van der Poel can start racing again, but La Gazzetta dello Sport is thinking ahead. According to the Italian sports newspaper, it is an option that the Alpecin-Fenix ​​rider will make his debut in the Tour of Italy this year.

La Gazzetta dello Sports journalist Ciro Scognamiglio, currently working in the UAE Tour, emphasises that nothing is final yet, but that Van der Poel’s participation is on the table as a possible scenario. But this sounds very premature, because there is no team plan yet for Van der Poel.

The 105th edition of the Giro d’Italia starts in just over two months on Friday 6 May in Hungary and ends on Sunday 29 May with a time trial in and around Verona. If Van der Poel indeed opts for the Italian tour, it would be his first participation in the Tour of Italy. For Van der Poel, however, everything is now dominated by his recovery.

Van der Poel in Italy?
van der poel


Alejandro Valverde Resumes Competition in New Spanish Race
Alejandro Valverde had to miss his last scheduled races because of the health protocol of his Movistar team, but the 41-year-old Spaniard will pin a race number next Thursday. Valverde is probably the top rider in the new Spanish stage race; Gran Camiño.

The Movistar leader had to miss the Vuelta a Murcia in his home region, plus the new gravel race; Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior and the Ruta del Sol. Movistar previously reported positive corona cases within the team that rode the Tour of Valencia. All riders who rode the stage race were kept at home, including Valverde.

The Murcian, who is in his last year, will be back in action this week. Movistar announced via social media that Valverde will participate in the Gran Camiño, a new four-day stage race in the region of Galicia in the north of Spain. With stages on the very steep Mirador de Ézaro (1.9km at 13.6%) and to Luintra with two first category climbs, it promises to be a tough race.

The organisers of the 2.1 stage race managed to attract four WorldTeams: Movistar, Cofidis, Israel-Premier Tech and EF Education-EasyPost and nine ProTeams for the first edition. The provisional entry list includes the names of Mark Padun, Alberto Bettiol, Magnus Cort, Iván Sosa, Gorka Izagirre, Jesús Herrada, Benjamin Thomas, Simon Geschke, Marco Canola and Giovanni Visconti.

Movistar squad Gran Camiño 2022 (24-27 February):
Jorge Arcas (Spa)
Gorka Izagirre (Spa)
Antonio Pedroro (Spa)
José Joaquín Rojas (Spa)
Gonzalo Serrano (Spa)
Iván Sosa (Col)
Alejandro Valverde (Spa).

Valverde back to racing:


Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl to the Opening Weekend
The Classics – Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s bread and butter – are back this weekend and the excitement is already bubbling up. Once again, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will open the show with a 204.2km course between Gent and Ninove. Containing 13 climbs and seven cobblestone sectors, Omloop remains one of the most important and prestigious one-day races out there and the perfect appetiser for what promises to be another exciting Classics campaign. Once again, the demanding Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg combo, which until a decade ago used to be Ronde van Vlaanderen’s salt and pepper, is expected to weigh heavily in the outcome of the race.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will come to the start Saturday morning with a team consisting of Ronde van Vlaanderen champion Kasper Asgreen – who will make his third consecutive Omloop Het Nieuwsblad appearance – Czech ITT Champion Josef Cerny, Iljo Keisse, 2020 runner-up Yves Lampaert, Florian Sénéchal, 2019 winner Zdenek Stybar and Bert Van Lerberghe.

One day later, Fabio Jakobsen – who so far this season has won four races – and Jannik Steimle will replace Kasper Asgreen and Josef Cerny for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, a 195.1km event which takes in more than a dozen climbs, including Mont Saint-Laurent, Kruisberg and Kluisberg. As the last of these is topped 52 kilometres from the finish, a regrouping is very likely, which would give the sprinters a chance to fight for victory.

“As a Belgian team, the Opening Weekend is always very exciting. The riders are looking forward to it, especially as it will be a good test for their condition. We have a lot of guys – Kasper, Yves, Florian and Zdenek – who can be there in the finale and fight for a good result in Omloop, but also one day later, when Fabio will be part of the team together with Jannik. In Josef, we have a new guy who maybe lacks some experience in this kind of races, but has a lot of horsepower and will be guided by Iljo, while Bert knows how to put our leaders in a good position before the crucial points on the course”, said Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels.

Tim Declercq won’t be at the start this weekend as he’s currently recovering from pericarditis.

26.02 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite (BEL) 1.UWT

Kasper Asgreen (DEN)
Josef Cerny (CZE)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Florian Sénéchal (FRA)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL), Tom Steels (BEL) & Rik van Slycke (BEL).

27.02 Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne (BEL) 1.Pro

Fabio Jakobsen (NED)
Iljo Keisse (BEL)
Yves Lampaert (BEL)
Florian Sénéchal (FRA)
Jannik Steimle (GER)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Bert Van Lerberghe (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL), Tom Steels (BEL) & Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Lampaert – Good for a win at the weekend?


ag2r cirtoen
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 26) / Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (February 27)
Olivier Naesen: “I had a great winter. I haven’t been sick, I haven’t had covid, I haven’t crashed. The lights are green. I built up my power differently from other years because the objective is to be in good shape starting with Paris-Nice and for the following classics. This plan is all the more judicious since the profile of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne are a little different from other years and they are more likely to end in a sprint. So, I prefer to be at my peak a bit later. However, these races are still a special time. I train all winter for this, and I know that on Saturday at the start, in Gent, I will have chills. Especially since the race passes practically in front of my house.”

On Thursday, the AG2R CITROËN TEAM will reconnoiter the last 80 kilometres of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad leaving at 10:30 from Strijpen.




bikeexchange jayco
Team BikeExchange Head North for ‘Opening Weekend’ of Classics Action
Team BikeExchange-Jayco will head north as they line-up for the opening weekend of cobbled classics racing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

The double-header marks the start of the classics season as teams tackle the famous Belgian roads in two one-day events. Australian Luke Durbridge will be keen to start his classics campaign with a strong showing, while fast finishing Dion Smith gives the squad options in reduced bunch sprint scenarios.

Italian Alexander Konychev will continue his classics development, with new signings Lawson Craddock and Jan Maas completing the five-rider team.

The first race of the weekend features a more demanding parcours, with 13 ‘bergs’ and 12 cobbled sectors, including the famous Kapelmuur and Bosberg inside the last 20km. Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne also features 13 climbs, with six cobbled sectors, the last of which comes with 35km remaining.

Team BikeExchange-Jayco Line-Up:
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Luke Durbridge (AUS)
Alexander Konychev (ITA)
Jan Maas (NED)
Dion Smith (NZL)

Luke Durbridge: “I’m looking forward to ‘opening weekend’, I’m coming off a good week at Ruta del Sol, a hard week, if I’m honest. I’ve never actually raced in Europe prior to ‘opening weekend’, it’s usually my first race in Europe and it’s usually a shock. I usually go into ‘opening weekend’ to get myself into the swing of things, but it’s too big of a race to use as a ‘build-up’ race, so I’m glad to get Ruta del Sol into the legs. It was a very challenging tour, but I think I came out of it well, so now it’s just about recovering and getting ready for the weekend. I thoroughly enjoy ‘opening weekend’ , it’s like a commencing of the classics with Omloop and then Kuurne, I’m getting excited, and we’ll have a small, fired-up squad ready to go for the first classics of the year.”

Tristan Hoffman (Sport Director): “‘Opening weekend’ is the first ‘Flanders Classic’ races of the season in Belgium, and we will face a fantastic style of one-day racing. As always, we can expect a very high level of racing and it will be important to be switched on and attentive from the start. It is also important to try to save energy where possible and we know positioning in the second part of the races will be crucial. We only have a small team of five riders, but together we are strong, so we will look to stick together. There are some sections that are different to last year, so the recons will be important before the weekend. For Kuurne there are a lot of smaller roads this year, particularly late in the day, but thankfully we should face good weather conditions all weekend, so that is one less thing to worry about.”

2022 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Race Details:
Saturday, 26th Feb: Ghent – Ninove, 204.2km.

2022 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – Race Details:
Sunday, 27th Feb: Kuurne – Kuurne, 195.1km.

Luke Durbridge will ride Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne:


Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite – FEB 26
Phil West – Team DSM coach: “We’re excited to get our classics campaign underway at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this weekend. It doesn’t seem like long ago we were at our first winter training camp, discussing how we would approach the race and here we are; everyone is really motivated for it. As always in the classics we expect some hard and tough racing and we want to ride well as a group throughout the day to create the best opportunities for us. The slight change of route could see more attacking racing so we need to be sharp from the flag drop. We want to try and play our numbers well with John and Nils, who have recently returned from a good altitude camp, our finishers for the day.”

Søren Kragh Andersen (DEN)
Nikias Arndt (GER)
John Degenkolb (GER)
Nico Denz (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (NOR)
Kevin Vermaerke (USA)

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad-vrouwen elite – FEB 26
Huub Duijn – Team DSM coach:
“Omloop marks the start of our classics campaign and we’re all looking forward to it. During the race we will look for opportunities through aggressive racing in the hill zone. With the Molenberg out of the parcours, then it could potentially be a bit of different race than we seen in recent years. Yet, it will be still hard enough to split things up, especially with the Muur and Bosberg combination deep into the final of the day. We believe our strength for the race is in the width and depth of our squad and we hope to create numbers, and as a result opportunities for us in the front, by being attentive and through aggressive racing.”

Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Charlotte Kool (NED)
Liane Lippert (GER)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED)

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne – FEB 27
Phil West – Team DSM coach: “Sunday sees us take on the second part of Opening Weekend at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, and another tough day out. Traditionally, the race is more likely to end in a reduced group sprint finish but like a lot of classics, the attitude of the peloton and any inclement weather can split the field up. Once again, we want to be present towards the front of the race and be attentive for any dangerous moves that might go clear, making sure our Team DSM jersey is visible through some good teamwork and kicking off our classics campaign with some aggressive racing, with John and Nils as our finishers.”

Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
John Degenkolb (GER)
Nils Eekhoff (NED)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Jonas Iversby Hvidberg (NOR)
Marius Mayrhofer (GER)
Casper Pedersen (DEN)

Omloop van het Hageland – FEB 27
Huub Duijn – Team DSM coach: “The route for Omloop van het Hageland has changed slightly this year, with a big 30 kilometre loop on stereotypical Belgian roads; with a lot of up and down, narrow roads and changes in direction. We will look to create opportunities in that section of the course and then see what the race situation is like after that. We have a strong group here who can ride aggressively at the front, but if the weather or attacking racing hasn’t split things up, then we will work towards setting up a sprint with Lorena as our finisher in the finale.”

Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR)
Franziska Koch (GER)
Charlotte Kool (NED)
Floortje Mackaij (NED)
Esmée Peperkamp (NED)
Lorena Wiebes (NED).

John Degenkolb to Het Nieuwsblad:


bikeexchange jayco
Team BikeExchange-Jayco Women Gear Up for Belgian Classics Double Header
Team BikeExchange-Jayco women will begin their classics campaign with the traditional Belgian double header of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland this weekend.

New recruit Kristen Faulkner will make her debut for the team as the American looks to start 2022 and the classics season with a bang. Australian Ruby Roseman-Gannon and Teniel Campbell will start both races, fresh off four days of action-packed racing at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.

Ane Santesteban, Georgia Baker and Arianna Fidanza will complete the squad for Saturday’s opener, as they all swap the sunny Spanish roads for the cobbles of Belgium. Urška Žigart and Chelsie Tan will line-up for their first races of 2022 – Tan will make her debut with the team – with Nina Kessler completing the six-rider roster for Sunday’s Omloop van het Hageland.

Saturday’s opener, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad boasts nine climbs and five cobbled sectors, including the famous Kapelmuur and Bosberg. Sunday’s race will see the peloton tackle a series of loops as the race winds through typical Belgian roads for 128.2km.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Line-Up:
Georgia Baker (AUS)
Teniel Campbell (TTO)
Kristen Faulkner (USA)
Arianna Fidanza (ITA)
Ruby Roseman-Gannon (AUS)
Ane Santesteban (ESP)

Omloop van het Hageland Line-Up:
Teniel Campbell (TTO)
Kristen Faulkner (USA)
Nina Kessler (NED)
Ruby Roseman-Gannon (AUS)
Chelsie Tan (SGP)
Urška Žigart (SLO)

Kristen Faulkner: “Nieuwsblad gives us a great opportunity to see how fit we are as individuals and how prepared we are for the season, but also for the team to see how we ride together and what we need to work on. I think a lot of teams are coming into this weekend in pretty good shape, as we saw in Valenciana, but also the spring classics are a lot more punchy, with cobbled sections, so it’s a really interesting race as there’s a lot of progress for riders between the end of last season and the spring and what they’ve worked on. Sometimes there’s a whole new set of talent and leaders coming in, and it’s really exciting to see that. One example is Ruby and the sprinters on our team, who are back with the European peloton now but perhaps a lot of teams don’t necessarily know who they are. For me personally, I’m hoping to be able to get some good results for the team. We have a lot of good sprinters, and if we have numbers towards the end we have the talent to finish it off.”

Martin Vestby – Sport Director: “We are really happy with how the team has started the year in Australia and Valencia. We made some big changes in the roster during the off-season, and seeing how this group of riders is coming together so well has been great. We’re going to the opening weekend of the Classics with some careful expectations, and with a lot of positives to build on. Nieuwsblad, as the first Classics race of the season, is always a big fight with everybody back on the cobbles. We’re coming in with a really strong team and we have some ambitions for them to be up there in the mix, fighting for some good results. I think our strength in the team now is that we have multiple riders who can produce results from different scenarios, and that makes it even more exciting going into the opening weekend.”

2022 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – Race Details:
Saturday, 26th Feb: Ghent – Ninove, 128.4km.

2022 Omloop van het Hageland – Race Details:
Sunday, 27th Feb: Tienen – Tielt-Winge, 128.2km.

Teniel Campbell will be riding both races:
Teniel Campbell


2022 Paris-Nice: Roglič’s Time to Shine?
There is always a certain amount of excitement and impatience among cycling fans as the Paris-Nice peloton is formed. This anticipation is not only due to the level of the thermometer, which sometimes struggles to rise in the Yvelines in early March, but more importantly about the chances and limitations of the leading contenders of the week-long race, a good part of whom should be the riders to watch during the season. Last year, Primož Roglič made his debut in the “Race to the Sun” as the odds-on favourite that he confirmed with three stage wins, riding most of the diagonal of the South-East in the leader’s jersey, until a horrific last day on the way to Levens, where he arrived dejected, the yellow of his jersey and his shorts bloodied by two crashes, and relegated to 15th place overall. The Slovenian rider is not bothered and will start in Mantes-la-Ville with his ambitions intact, which could take shape as soon as the Montluçontime-trial. As for the all-rounders, there will be many candidates for the stage win, starting from the ranks of Roglič’s Jumbo-Visma team, which has added Rohan Dennis and Wout Van Aert to the squad. On the other side of the table, which is to say in the Ineos-Grenadiers team, the time trial will be as vital for Filippo Ganna and Michal Kwiatkowski as for Adam Yates and Daniel Martínez, who will already be gunning for a strong result in the general classification. At this point, German rider Max Schachmann will also want to stay in the hunt in case an opportunity arises to win a third consecutive title, a treble that hasn’t been accomplished since Laurent Jalabert did it in 1997.

To stay in contention for the win on the Promenade des Anglais, it won’t be enough to make a respectable result on the solo exercise and avoid the possible crosswinds in the Loiret or Indre. The final weekend will give the pure climbers every chance to turn the situation around and, in particular, on the key Saturday stage, where for the second time in the race’s history, the finish will be on the col de Turini after a 14.9-kilometre climb. The roads where Ari Vatanen and Sébastien Loeb enjoyed rally successes were above all in 2019 the route of Egan Bernal’s first triumph in a prestigious stage race. He won his yellow and white jersey, while his compatriot Daniel Martínez won the stage, and Nairo Quintana also represented Columbia by taking the provisional podium. The Arkéa-Samsic climber is the man in form at the moment, with convincing wins in the Tour de la Provence and the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var. But the Colombian delegation will not be alone in their quest for success as climbers from around the world will be in action. Stage winner on the Tour of Algarve, David Gaudu will be part of the French contingent, as will Guillaume Martin, Pierre Latour and Aurélien Paret-Peintre. Spain will be represented by Ion Izagirre, David de la Cruz and the consistent Luis León Sánchez, who now rides for the Bahrain Victorious team. Australia will count on Ben O’Connor. England’s best chances lie with the Yates brothers, while American Brandon McNulty could be in the mix. Russia’s Alexandr Vlasov (2nd in 2021) will be another to watch, as will Kazakhstan’s Alexey Lutsenko.

They will certainly not be part of the final battle, but the sprinters will have indeed had a look at the course of the opening stages and will make it a sensational few days. The Quick-Step riders will, in large part, work to give Fabio Jakobsen his chance for victory. But the most successful stage winner of this early season (Tour of Valencia x 2 / Tour of Algarve x 2) isn’t the only rider to have raised his arms. Bryan Coquard did so on the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour de la Provence, as did Dylan Groenewegen on the Saudi Tour, Fernando Gaviria on the Tour of Oman, and Jasper Philipsen on the UAE Tour. And although they haven’t yet won in 2022, Sam Bennett and Christophe Laporte will try to show their new jerseys while Cees Bol, Sonny Colbrelli or Ivan Garcia Cortina will also have their chances to shine on the sprint finishes.

22 Teams, The Leading Entrants:

Team BikeExchange-Jayco: Groenewegen (Ned), S. Yates (Gbr)

Bahrain Victorious: Colbrelli (Ita), Sanchez (Spa), Teuns (Bel)

Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl: Jakobsen (Ned), Sénéchal (Fra), Stybar (Rtc)
Lotto Soudal: Gilbert, De Gendt (Bel)
Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux: Taaramäe (Est)
Alpecin-Fenix: Philipsen (Bel), Vine (Aus)

AG2R Citroën Team: Champoussin, Paret-Peintre (Fra), O’Connor (Aus)
Cofidis: Martin, Coquard (Fra), I.Izagirre (Spa)
Groupama-FDJ: Gaudu, Madouas (Fra), Küng (Swi)
TotalEnergies: Boasson Hagen (Nor), Latour, Turgis (Fra)
Team Arkéa-Samsic: Capiot (Bel), Quintana (Col)
B&B Hotels-KTM: Bonnamour, Hivert (Fra)

Bora-Hansgrohe: Schachmann (Ger), Grossschartner (Aut), Vlasov (Rus), Bennett (Irl)

Israel Start-Up Nation: Schmidt (Den)

Astana-Qazaqstan: Lutsenko (Ukr), De la Cruz (Spa)

Movistar Team: Garcia Cortina (Spa), Jorgenson (Usa)

The Netherlands
Jumbo-Visma: Roglic (Slo), Kruijswijk (Ned), Van Aert (Bel), Dennis (Aus), Laporte (Fra)
Team DSM: Kragh Andersen (Den), Bol (Ned), Degenkolb (Ger)

United Kingdom
Ineos-Grenadiers: Ganna (Ita), A.Yates (Gbr), Martinez (Col)

United Arab Emirates
UAE Team Emirates: McNulty (Usa), Gaviria (Col), Trentin (Ita)

United States
EF Education-Easypost: Bisseger (Swi), Doull (Gbr)
Trek-Segafredo: Mollema (Hol), Pedersen (Dan), Stuyven (Bel)

Paris-Nice, edition 80
Since 1933, Paris-Nice has marked the beginning of the big battles for the champions destined to excel in the stage races. Whether on the Promenade des Anglais or the Col d’Èze, depending on the year, the first evaluation of the form of the Tour de France favourites is already underway. On the occasion of edition 80, Paris-Nice looks back at the role played by the “Race to the Sun” in the careers of a dozen riders who have forged a unique link with the event, from René Vietto to Egan Bernal, including Jacques Anquetil, Sean Kelly and Alberto Contador. The first five parts of the series are already available on the official website.

Key points:
Edition 80 of Paris-Nice, which will kick off on 6 March with a stage in the Yvelines, with the start-finish in Mantes-la-Ville, could allow Primož Roglič to erase his disappointment of last year. But the Slovenian rider will have to show consistency in the Montluçon time trial and the ascent of the Col de Turini or when facing the tension of the last stage around Nice to add his name on the roll of honour next to Max Schachmann’s.
Ø Among the climbers, Nairo Quintana has impressed so far this season, but he will have to contend with David Gaudu, Guillaume Martin, Alexandr Vlasov and brothers Simon and Adam Yates.
Ø Before heading to the South of France, the sprinters will have a series of intense battles in which Fabio Jakobsen, Sam Bennett, Bryan Coquard, Sonny Colbrelli, Jasper Philipsen and Dylan Groenewegen will most probably be involved. Among others…


Critérium du Dauphiné 2022: A Full Menu, With a Mountain Flavour
While the race still seems far away, the decor has already been chosen and promises to see the most complete riders among the world elite at the sharp end of the order. An ability to excel on different stage profiles, to mobilise a team, capable of protecting its leader(s) in all circumstances, and the instinct to sniff out the right moves will be assessed from the opening stages. The first-ever start in Ardèche will allow the riders to test themselves on the intermediate climbs. It won’t necessarily exclude the sprinters, except on day three for the first battle of the climbers expected on the slopes of the Puy de Sancy. The nearly 32-kilometre-long time-trial the following day between Montbrison and La Bâtie d’Urfé will form a logical hierarchy of title contenders as the race reaches the mid-way point. At this juncture of the race, the all-rounders will have the advantage!

All reversals of the situation will still be possible as the race heads to the Alps. The approach stage to Gap might seem innocuous at first sight, but its distance of nearly 200 kilometres will weigh heavy on the legs before the riders take on the weekend program. Between Saint-Chaffrey and Vaujany, the peloton will ride for most of the short day on the route of stage 12 of this year’s Tour de France, with the climbs to the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix-de-Fer, before reaching the Isère ski resort. The race’s final stage on Sunday afternoon has already proved its mettle. In its only previous appearance on the Dauphiné route, the climb to the Plateau de Solaison in 2017 saw Jakob Fuglsang strip Richie Porte of the leader’s jersey. A magnificent opportunity for the climbers who will be out for revenge.

Key points:
The route of edition 74 of the Critérium du Dauphiné from 5 to 12 June, which will start in the Ardèche for the first time, has been devised so that complete riders can contend for the title.

Ø The array of terrain over the eight stages, until the final climb to the Plateau de Solaison, will offer the best climbers like Enric Mas or David Gaudu, as well as the leading all-rounders like Wout Van Aert and Rémi Cavagna their shot at victory. There will also be opportunities for Julian Alaphilippe, Sonny Colbrelli and Benoit Cosnefroy to put on a show and for sprinters Dylan Groenewegen and Jasper Stuyven to chase down stage wins.

The stages of the 74th edition:
Sunday 5 June stage 1: La Voulte-sur-Rhône > Beauchastel, 191.8 km
Monday 6 June, stage 2: Saint-Péray > Brives-Charensac, 169.8 km
Tuesday 7 June, stage 3: Saint-Paulien > Chastreix-Sancy, 164 km
Wednesday 8 June, stage 4: Montbrison > La Bâtie d’Urfé, 31.9 km (ind.-tt)
Thursday 9 June, stage 5: Thizy-les-Bourgs > Chaintré, 162.3 km
Friday 10 June, stage 6: Rives > Gap, 196.4 km
Saturday 11 June, stage 7: Saint-Chaffrey > Vaujany, 134.8 km
Sunday 12 June, stage 8: Saint-Alban-Leysse > Plateau de Salaison, 139.2 km

Teams selected:
AG2R Citroën Team (FRA)
Astana Qazaqstan Team (KAZ)
Bahrain Victorious (BRN)
B&B Hotels – KTM (FRA)
Bora – Hansgrohe (GER)
Cofidis ( FRA)
EF Education – Easypost (USA)
Groupama – FDJ (FRA)
Ineos Grenadiers (GBR)
Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux (BEL)
Israel – Premier Tech (ISR)
Jumbo – Visma (NED)
Lotto Soudal (BEL)
Movistar Team (ESP)
Quick – Step Alpha Vinyl Team (BEL)
Team Arkea – Samsic (FRA)
Team BikeExchange – Jayco (AUS)
Team DSM (NED)
TotalEnergies (FRA)
Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UAE Team Emirates (UAE)
Uno – X Pro Cycling Team (NOR).



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