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Villa San Agustín - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Maximiliano Richeze (ARG - QuickStep - Floors) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 4 - from San José Jachal : Villa San Agustín (182.8KM) - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

All the action from the Vuelta a San Juan, good and bad for the Quick-Step Floors team. Results and video from Argentina. The 2018 season hits the Euro roads today and Alejandro Valverde is back – Top Story. In other cycling news: BEAT carry on winning, BMC and Sunweb for Cadel race, AG2R-La Mondiale and Lotto Soudal first Euro races, Abu Dhabi and Belvedere news, Cyclus Sports goes Continental and Willie Smit finishes his training camp. Big EUROTRASH time.

TOP STORY: Alejandro Valverde Makes his Third Debut
The Challenge Mallorca will open the 2018 Spanish cycling campaign today, Thursday the 25th of January, with the 178 kilometer Trofeo Campos and Alejandro Valverde will be making a debut… again.

Valverde: “I like Mallorca in winter, I really like all the coastal sites in winter, because they transmit that quiet ride, away from the frenzy of other times of the year. Without knowing it, I think that if you ask me what paradise is like, I would say that it resembles some of the interior areas of the largest island of the Balearics, Soller or places like that, that seem chiseled by the hand of the creator.”

On that quiet island with its beautiful landscapes, humid environment and tranquility, Alejandro Valverde plans to be wearing a race number, something he has not done since the afternoon of the 1st of July in Dusseldorf on the opening stage of the 2017 Tour de France.

His first ‘debut’ was in 2002 in the green and white of the Kelme team. On the 3rd of March that year, ‘Balaverde’ lined up in the Clásica de Almería, quite near his home and the factory of his team sponsor. Valverde was there with the reputation of an unbeaten man, an authentic winning machine. A champion from the schoolboy’s category right up to the Under 23s, and now he was joining the professional peloton.

In Almería, Valverde’s first pro race, he took 8th place in a sprint won by Massimo Strazzer of Phonak with the Rabobank pair of Markus Zberg and Marc Lotz in second place and third place. There were no wins in 2002, but 2003 was his breakthrough year. In the Vuelta a España he won two stages and finished third in the General classification. He also won the Vuelta a Mallorca and a stage in Tour of the Basque Country, plus the GP Primavera and GP Villafranca de Ordizia. He ended the season with a second place in the World Championships behind Igor Astarloa after winning the sprint ahead of Peter Van Petegem and Paolo Bettini.

The second debut of Alejandro Valverde was ten years later for reasons he would rather everyone would forget as it was in connection with a certain Dr. Fuentes. After serving a two-year suspension Valverde returned to competition in 2012 riding for the Movistar team in the Tour Down Under where he won stage 5 – the queen stage – out-sprinting Simon Gerrans in a two-man sprint in Willunga. He finished the race in second place overall, on the same time as winner Gerrans, much the same as this years final result. In February of that year he took the final overall prize in the Vuelta a Andalucía.

Now at 37 years of age it will be his third ‘debut’ and in Mallorca we will see if the old cunning and sparkle is still there. What ever your thoughts are on his past, he has been missed and there are not many characters left in the peloton.

Valverde – The Best Of:

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan 2018
Fernando Gaviria returned with a bang on the scene of his breakthrough, Argentina, nabbing a commanding win in Pocito, where the first Stage 1 of the 36th edition of Vuelta a San Juan concluded. It was for the fourth straight year that the Colombian started his season with a victory in Argentina, where he began making a name for himself back in 2015, when the two wins he scored at the Tour de San Luis landed him a place in the Quick-Step Floors team.

Seven riders jumped from the peloton early in the stage and built a four-minute lead before the first intermediate sprint, but once Iljo Keisse moved to the head of proceedings it became clear that their chances of making it all the way were slim, as the experienced Belgian put in some monster pulls at the front together with neo-pro Alvaro Hodeg, reducing the gap to 1:30 by the time the race entered on the local circuit.

The catch was made with 15 kilometers to go, and despite a late attack of Gerardo Tivani (Municipalidad de Pocito), the stage culminated in a bunch gallop, on which Fernando Gaviria put his mark, beating by several bike lengths Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) and Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-hansgrohe). It was the 23-year-old’s six victory in Argentina and it marked the eighth consecutive stage race in which he scored a win, a remarkable series that stretches back to the 2016 edition of the Tour de Pologne.

More photos from San Juan stage 1 HERE.

Pocito - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Fernando Gaviria (COL - QuickStep - Floors) - Niccolo Bonifazio (ITA - Bahrain - Merida) - Matteo Pelucchi (ITA - Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 1 - from San Juan to Pocito 148,9 km - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner and overall leader, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors): “It doesn’t matter if I’m riding San Juan or the Giro d’Italia, I always want to win and that’s what I did today. The team did a really good job, they were perfect. Iljo – who is the team’s captain – made things look easy and did an extraordinary job, you can see how important is the experience he brings into the squad. Alvaro, who rode his first pro race, also had an important contribution and I’m proud of him, while Max did what he does best and left me in a perfect position to take the victory. The stage was short and fast, especially in the closing kilometers, a sign that many teams wanted the victory, but the team was very strong. It’s always nice to win your first race of the season, because it shows that you had a good winter preparation and this kind of result gives you confidence. I’m also happy for leading the general classification and wearing the white jersey; hopefully I will have other chances to get some more good results this week.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 1 Result:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 3:15:23
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
6. Mauro Richeze (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
7. Hector Lucero (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito
8. Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
9. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors
10. Manuel Peñalver (Spa) Trevigiani Phonix-Hemus.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 1:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 3:15:13
2. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:04
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:06
4. Daniel Juarez (Arg) Asociacion Civil Mardan at 0:07
5. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:10
6. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7. Mauro Richeze (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
8. Hector Lucero (Arg) Municipalidad de Pocito
9. Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates
10. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors.

San Juan stage 1:

Stage 2 of the Vuelta a San Juan saw several last-minute attacks within the final 15 km of the race. It was a very tight finish, with the winner coming from a group of escapees who attacked in the final 2 kilometers. Roman Villalovos (Canel’s-Specialized) won the uphill sprint ahead of Ricardo Escuela (A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima) in second. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) was the strongman of the trio, but had to be content with 3rd place.

The course of just under 150 km looked like it would make for interesting racing. The stage had two intermediate sprints and four king of the mountains climbs, with the riders having to climb the Alto Punta Negra, which ramps up to 7.5 percent in some areas, a total of four times. A tricky stage, featuring a climb that was short but also quite steep in sections. Crosswinds brought unpredictability to the stage, but also an opportunity to make a decisive move, particularly in the final section.

Immediately after the drop of the flag, three riders formed a breakaway. Having stayed away for most of the day, the break was caught with 25 kilometers remaining, but not before six other riders tried their luck to escape from the field. With the chase on in earnest behind them, they were reeled back with 15 kilometers remaining. A soloist then decided to try his luck within the final 12km of the race, but was caught with 7km to go. Yet again, with under 2 km remaining, another group of riders managed to escape, and despite the best efforts of the chasers, this group produced the winner, Ramon Villalobos of Costa Rica.

Villalovos now leads overall by 4 seconds from Ricardo Escuela with Tiesj Benoot at 6 seconds in 3rd. Stage 1 winner, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), is in 4th place at 8 seconds.

More stage 2 photos in PeloPics.

Peri Lago Punta Negra - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - 1. Roman Villavobos - 2 Ricardo D. Escuela - 3 Tiesj Benoot pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 2 - from Peri Lago Punta Negra (149.9KM) - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

3rd on the stage and overall, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal): “Our team was very active in the finale. With about twenty kilometers to go, Jelle Wallays was part of a break with five others. After they had been caught a few kilometers further, Jelle and Nikolas Maes kept the rest of our team at the front. It was our plan that I would attack at the top of the last hill. Jens Keukeleire and Tosh Van der Sande would wait for the sprint. After my acceleration I never had the feeling to be able to take a breath for a moment and the peloton was not far behind. I started my sprint a bit too early and with a too big gear. My two companions were very strong and so I got third. Still, I have a good feeling. Before the stage I had never thought to be able to set such a result, because in the morning and at the beginning of the stage I didn’t feel well. Probably due to the heat the day before. In the finale I did feel much better and I could set up an attack. I’ll take the rest of the week day by day.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 2 Result:
1. Roman Villalovos (CRc) Canel’s-Specialized in 3:25:06
2. Ricardo Escuela (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
3. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin
6. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Gonzalo Najar (Arg) S.E.P. de San Juan
8. Alexander Cataford (Can) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling
9. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel-Cycling Academy
10. Luis Mas (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 2:
1. Roman Villalovos (CRc) Canel’s-Specialized in 6:40:19
2. Ricardo Escuela (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima at 0:04
3. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:06
4. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors at 0:08
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:10
6. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Miguel Rubiano (Col) Coldeportes-Zenu
8. Luis Mas (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin
10. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal.

San Juan stage 2:

Irish road and time trial champion Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo) blasted around the flat, non-technical Stage 3 time trial at the Vuelta a San Juan Tuesday to take home his first international victory and with it the first team victory for the 2018 season. The flat and windy course suited a power rider like Mullen, but in the first individual test against the clock of a new season, even Mullen had trouble pacing himself for the 14.4-kilometer race of truth. Mullen may have felt like he was losing time, but he made up most of his advantage in the second half of the race. At the first intermediate split, midway through, he was down 8 seconds but crossed the line in 17 minutes and 43 seconds to set the fastest time by nearly a half-minute.

With all riders using road bikes and no time trial machines, Mullen felt he was not at an advantage, even faster. As an early starter, Mullen spent most of the race in the hot seat and was later joined by teammate Greg Daniel, who had a fantastic race. Daniel finished in a time of 18 minutes and 13 seconds, 30 seconds slower than Mullen, and held onto second place until the final few riders finally bumped him to fourth. Daniel missed the podium by less than a second. Rounding out the top three Filippo Ganna (UAE-Team Emirates) in second – who also claimed the race lead – and Rafał Majka in third (Bora-Hansgrohe).

More photos from stage 3 in PeloPics.

PEZ interview with Ryan Mullen in 2017.

Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - 3rd stage San Juan - San Juan (ITT) 14,4 km - 23/01/2017 - Ryan Mullen (IRL - Trek - Segafredo) - photo Ilario Biondi/BettiniPhoto©2017

Stage winner, Ryan Mullen (Trek-Segafredo): “I am super happy, and everyone here is super happy; it’s nice to get the ball rolling and get a first win of the year in my first race,” said Mullen. “I have always been the guy who has been second, third fifth, so yeah, it’s my first international win. The course was very well suited to me, maybe I would have preferred it a little bit longer, but it was pretty close to being perfect for me. But I misjudged the pacing a little bit; I went out a little bit too hard and then the last four kilometers it was a pretty hard headwind, and I kind of came off the pace a little bit there. I really suffered in the heat as well for the last four or five minutes, so it was more a case of just hanging on and keeping a little bit of rhythm and not lose too much time. Luckily I held on! I didn’t come here to come second, but it’s January, and normally in the season I can gauge how I will do, but this was my first TT, so I wasn’t sure how my body would handle in the heat and that sort of stuff. I was watching my power meter and thinking this sucks, I feel like shit. But everyone’s power was down in the heat. Obviously, our bike is incredibly fast, probably faster than my previous TT bike on its own. I know that we have some of the best equipment in the whole race and that was definitely a big motivation for me. We have the best bike; we have great wheels, the only thing missing was the extensions. Last year guys rode them, and we assumed it was the same, and we only found out two days ago we cannot even use it. The problem for me is I am actually a big guy, I have a big frame, and in the TT position, I am lucky that I am able to get very small for someone my size and hold a really good position. That’s one of the factors that makes me good at time trials; I am able to bend my body into a shape it’s not supposed to go. But on the road bike I have nothing to pull on like with the extensions; normally I would pull on the bars quite a lot. It’s the first for me having to do a TT on my road bike, and I made a few modifications like a couple extra rolls of bar tape where I was resting my arms, and I folded my hoods in so I could hold onto something and have leverage. I struggled a little bit to hold the power I normally hold [on a TT bike] but it worked out really good – in the end, I think everyone was in the same boat.”

2nd on the stage and overall leader, Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates): “I wanted to win, but I knew that Mullen was a hard one to beat. I am consoled by this leader’s jersey. Now I will try to defend it as long as possible with the help of all of my team.”

3rd on the stage and 2nd overall, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It is a pleasant surprise to do well in my first race in January, and to get a good result in the end. I have a good position in the general classification now, and have some time up my sleeve. But there are of course still many more stages to come, including some long and difficult climbs, so the GC can still change around a lot in the coming days. We will definitely try to do our best, control the race, and put up a strong fight.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 3 Result:
1. Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo in 17:43
2. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:25
3. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:30
4. Gregory Daniel (USA) Trek-Segafredo
5. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 0:36
6. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar at 0:38
7. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 0:44
8. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
9. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar at 0:50
10. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors at 0:52.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 3:
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 6:58:37
2. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:05
3. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 0:11
4. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 0:19
5. Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar at 0:25
6. Ricardo Escuela (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima at 0:27
7. Winner Anacona (Col) Movistar at 0:35
8. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors at 0:43
9. Kanstantsin Suitsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida
10. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:45.

Stage 3 ITT:

Maximiliano Richeze stepped up on Stage 4 for Quick-Step Floors after the team lost Fernando Gaviria following a crash and nabbed his fifth stage win in the Vuelta a San Juan, taking the team’s all-time tally in Argentina to 17 victories.

It was a crazy and atypical day at the South American race, where overnight heavy rain complicated things during the stage and even forced the organizers to neutralize the race in the final 20 kilometers so that the riders could pass a river that overtopped its banks and flooded the road. That wasn’t the only incident on the last stage before a rest day, with a crash occurred about 50 kilometers from the finish taking several riders to the ground.

Stage 1 winner Fernando Gaviria was among those involved, and the 23-year-old, the main favourite in case of another bunch sprint, was taken to the San Juan hospital for further tests, after initial on-ground examination by the team doctor didn’t reveal any broken bones. The Colombian, racing his first event of the season, came out of this incident with multiple abrasions and a deep wound on the left knee; the doctors will keep him at the hospital for further examinations, but fortunately the tests he underwent so far didn’t show any kind of fractures.

From then on, the tempo intensified and the peloton split into four groups, all five remaining Quick-Step Floors riders making it to the front and sharing the pace duties with two other teams, as they rode full gas to Villa San Agustin. With two kilometers to go, our sprint train began assembling, combining physical presence, positioning, timing and speed, and thus prevailing against the other teams interested in the sprint.

Neo-pro Alvaro Hodeg was the one to launch Maximiliano Richeze with under 200 meters to go, and the 34-year-old put in an incredible rush towards the line which held off the efforts of Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-hansgrohe) and was welcomed with huge cheers by the hundreds of Argentinean supporters at the finish, who celebrated “El Atomico’s” maiden victory of the season.

More pics from stage 4 HERE.

Villa San Agustín - Argentina- wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Maximiliano Richeze (ARG - QuickStep - Floors) - Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA - Trek - Segafredo) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2017 - 36th Edition - stage 4 - from  San José Jachal  :  Villa San Agustín   (182.8KM) - photo ilario Biondi/LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Stage winner, Maximiliano Richeze (Quick-Step Floors): “From the start I had good feelings in the legs, but I was also advantaged by the headwind on the climbs, which allowed me to sit in the wheels of the stronger guys. With the rain we had during the night we knew it would be dangerous out there, and unfortunately we were struck by bad luck when Fernando crashed and had to abandon. The radio communication was also down, so it was only later that we found out he wasn’t in the race anymore. When we got the news about Fernando, we moved to the front and pushed hard to keep the chasers behind together with Lotto-Soudal. My teammates did a great job, they were instrumental in my victory today, what they usually do for Fernando they did for me, and I want to thank them for helping me get this win, which is also for Fernando. I’m a pro for 13 years, but haven’t been riding a lot in my country, so every time I find myself here I am happy and try to repay my fans for their fantastic support. Result-wise, it’s been a good race for us so far and we hope we won’t stop here.”

Overall leader, Filippo Ganna (UAE Team Emirates): “My first day as the leader passed well thanks to all my team. During the race, the speed was high and with a head-wind on the climb, which helped those of us who were riding in the wheels. When Gaviria crashed, I was behind and the group split in several parts, but I was in good company and together a Troia and Ait Al Abdia, we bridged the gap. I made a big effort, but everything went well in the final.”

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Stage 4 Result:
1. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors in 4:31:48
2. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Mihkel Räim (Est) Israel-Cycling Academy
5. Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
6. Edwin Alcibiades Avila (Col) Israel Cycling Academy
7. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Mauro Richeze (Arg) A.C.A. Virgen De Fatima
9. Alvaro Hodeg (Col) Quick-Step Floors
10. Travis McCabe (USA) UnitedHealthcare.

Vuelta Ciclista a la Provincia de San Juan Overall After Stage 4:
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in 11:30:25
2. Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:05
3. Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Medellin at 0:11
4. Omar Mendoza (Col) Medellin at 0:19
5. Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Quick-Step Floors at 0:43
6. Kanstantsin Suitsou (Blr) Bahrain-Merida
7. Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:45
8. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:50
9. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
10. Rodolfo Torres (Col) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec at 0:52.

San Juan stage 4:

Büchli and Bos Win Gold and Bronze in Sprint in Minsk
After gold in the team sprint and keirin, BEAT also medals in the sprint to make it a clean sweep

After already adding two gold medals to the club’s palmarés yesterday, BEAT Cycling Club was today victorious in the individual sprint as well. Matthijs Büchli took gold in the final against Lithuanian Lendel, where Theo Bos was victorious over Polish rider Rudyk for bronze.

In an exciting race, where both BEAT riders needed a third race in the 1/8th finals to win the heat and were lined up against each other in the semi finals, it was Matthijs Büchli who secured the victory and his third gold medal of the tournament: “This is bizarre, if you participate in three disciplines in such a World Cup, you can’t imagine that you will come away with three wins. This was my first World Cup victory in the sprint and it is really unbelievable. What makes this even better is that Theo also took third. That’s really cool.”

“Of course we had the same order of events this weekend as we will have at the World Championship, with the team sprint, keirin and sprint on three consecutive days. This structure went very well for me and that gave me a lot of confidence. I expected to be a lot more tired today than I actually was, which gives me a lot of confidence going into the world championships.”

Theo Bos was happily surprised with his result: “I really did not expect this. I’d written off ever getting another success in the sprint. I got 13th in the qualifications this morning, and normally you don’t stand a chance at a podium spot anymore with a 13th place in qualifications. I ended up riding hard for three full laps and that turned out to be the best strategy to out-sprint the pure sprinters today.”

Theo Bos won the bronze medal:

Medal Rich World Cup
On the Saturday of this World Cup, both the team sprint and the keirin finished with gold medals. It was the first team sprint victory at a World Cup for the BEAT track team and the third victory in the Keirin, out of three starts. Tim Veldt recapped the entire World Cup weekend: “The whole weekend was above all expectations. Matthijs might have been a favorite here, but we saw very strong races all weekend. Matthijs’ strongest ride was today’s final and that shows that after such a long weekend he can still put in that little bit extra when it counts.

“Matthijs’ win is incredible, but Theo’s third place certainly was as well, as he now has a podium place at a World Cup. He surprised all his opponents by riding tactically strong races and thus he shows that he can still achieve a lot, with experience.”

Matthijs Büchli winning sprint gold:

BMC Racing Team with Multiple Options at the Cadel Road Race
After a strong performance at the Santos Tour Down Under, the same seven-rider team is set to line up at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race this Sunday, 28 January.

“We have multiple cards to play at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Simon Gerrans will be our protected rider for a sprint finish as last year he was right up there and finished second in the group of 20 or so riders. I expect there to be a selection of 20 to 30 riders there at the finish again this year,” Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

“With Rohan Dennis and Richie Porte in great shape, we can also go on the offensive and try something different. We will see how the race unfolds and decide which card we want to play on the day. It is good to have so many options as it is a tough course and anything can happen in a one-day race. To win the road race would be a great way to wrap up our Australian season before we head back to Europe, especially with three of Australia’s best riders in our team.”

Simon Gerrans finished second last year and is looking to go one better in 2018. “I really like the course. The first loop we do when we head down towards the Great Ocean Road is quite scenic and a good way to get a few kilometers out of the way. As we get to the finish circuits it becomes a really selective part where we often see a small group come to the finish. I really like the circuit and I think it suits me well,” Gerrans said.

For Richie Porte, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is another opportunity to test his form before returning to Europe. “I can take a lot of confidence out of my performance at the Santos Tour Down Under. I’m climbing just as well now as I was last year so I’m confident that I can race well on Sunday. I was able to try my luck last year in the finale and this year, we’ll see how things play out on the day. We have a great team, including Simon Gerrans who came so close last year and who I think will have a good shot this year,” Porte explained.

As he did at the Santos Tour Down Under, Rohan Dennis is ready to play his role in supporting the team. “We’ll be lining up on Sunday to support Simon Gerrans so we’ll do everything we can to help him get the win. It’s a hard race and like any one-day race, it can be unpredictable. It’s great to have another race in Australia with WorldTour status and it’s an important one for BMC Racing Team,” Dennis added.

Miles Scotson will join his Australian counterparts, as well as Patrick Bevin, Tom Bohli, and Danilo Wyss, at the start line. Before lining up at the road race on Sunday, the team, with the exclusion of Porte, will line up at the Race Melbourne criterium on Thursday evening.

Race Melbourne (25 January) / Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (28 January)

Rider roster:
Patrick Bevin (NZ), Tom Bohli (SUI), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Richie Porte (AUS) – road race only, Miles Scotson (AUS), Danilo Wyss (SUI).
Sports Director: Fabio Baldato (ITA).

Richie Porte making his move on Willunga Hill:
Willunga Hill - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Richie Porte (AUS - BMC) pictured during 20th Santos Tour Down Under (2.UWT) stage -5 from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5KM) - photo LB/RB//Cor Vos © 2018

Towards Zero Race Melbourne
Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): “Continuing with the Australian races, on Thursday we have Race Melbourne, a criterium race around Melbourne’s Formula 1 circuit. With 22 laps around a 5.3km circuit, the race totals 116.6 kilometers and we can expect a really fast and furious show. We have our German sprinter Phil Bauhaus whom we’ll aim for a result with, and a strong team to support our goal.”

Race: Towards Zero Race Melbourne (CRT)
Date: 25/01/2018
Line-Up: Nikias Arndt (GER), Phil Bauhaus (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Sam Oomen (NED), Michael Storer (AUS), Mike Teunissen (NED).
Coach: Luke Roberts (AUS).

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
Team Sunweb coach Luke Roberts (AUS): “We go to Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race as defending title holders with Nikias Arndt, who will be back again and have the opportunity to go for a result. Once again we can expect a decimated bunch sprint, despite some changes to the parcours. This year there will be one less climb on the lap, but an additional longer climb to contend with over the race’s 164 kilometers. Our expectations remain that things will come down to a small bunch sprint where we will aim for a result with Nikias.”

Race: Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (WT)
Date: 28/01/2018
Line-Up: Nikias Arndt (GER), Phil Bauhaus (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Chris Hamilton (AUS), Sam Oomen (NED), Michael Storer (AUS), Mike Teunissen (NED).
Coach: Luke Roberts (AUS).

Nikias Arndt in the 2017 Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race
Geelong - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Nikias ARNDT (Germany / Team Sunweb) pictured during Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race 2017 - photo Con Chronis/Cor Vos © 2017***Australia out***

AG2R-La Mondiale Start 2018 in Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise and Etoile de Bessèges
Romain Bardet: “My winter preparation went perfectly, without injury, without illness, and with the constant goal of continuing to progress well in all areas.

My most recent training camp in Castellon (Spain) was successful. We have a strong and engaged group, which can only pay dividends the whole season. I chose to move forward my return to competition by a few days because I feel so ready.

It’s always nice to start the season in France, in a race that I like a lot, and one that has a difficult enough course at the finish to put in a real race. It is also a good way to get into sync right away with Tony Gallopin, whose talent, wit, and experience will be a huge asset to our group.

I still have some work to do before I get to my optimum form, but I am attacking 2018 with a lot of confidence and calmness.”

A professional cyclist since 2005, Hubert Dupont is preparing to participate in the Grand Prix Cycliste La Marseillaise for the twelfth time.

Preview Challenge Mallorca with Tim Wellens and DS Bart Leysen
The four-day Challenge Mallorca is scheduled from Thursday till Sunday. The event consists of four individual races, so-called Trofeos.

Bart Leysen, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Traditionally the Challenge Mallorca starts and ends with a race for sprinters and in between there are two climbing races. We have a team for both types of races and we’d love to claim a victory this week. Campenaerts, De Buyst, Vanendert and Wellens will all ride three Trofeos. The others will only race twice.”

“Jasper De Buyst is our sprinter. Last season he set some nice results and we hope he can continue on the same path in 2018. Moreno Hofland will be his lead-out. Tim Wellens is our leader for the climbing races. He is surrounded by teammates who can climb well too, such as Sander Armée and Jelle Vanendert. They can all support each other.”

“In December and January we held a training camp on Mallorca. Despite the fact that it rained the first days of our second training camp, all riders were able to complete their training schedule. This year the trainings were less intense, because we don’t want the riders to be in top shape too early. They only need to peak by the time of Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Spring Classics. But that doesn’t mean they won’t already be racing well of course. We have faith that we can play along for victory at Challenge Mallorca.”

Tim Wellens, who won two Trofeos last year, kicks off his season again at Challenge Mallorca. He will race on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Before Tim starts the new cycling year, he looks back on the off-season. With a stage win and overall victory at Tour of Guangxi he could fully enjoy his time off.

Tim Wellens: “You are only as good as your last race, so that’s a good sign (laughs). Of course it’s all the better when you are able to finish your season that way. I had years in which I didn’t perform so well anymore at the end of the season and that’s less fun. This winter I was very relaxed. That last victory gave me mental rest.”

“I didn’t do anything for two weeks. In that period I went on a holiday to Dubai with my girlfriend. After those two weeks I started running, swimming, mountain biking and going to the fitness. I didn’t follow a schedule yet, but I just did sports when I wanted to. About three weeks later I started to use training schedules.”

“The training camps went really well. It was a huge advantage that we stayed at the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre. It’s the perfect location for sportsmen. We trained less intensively than previous years, so I will be in top shape later than usual. Nonetheless, I should be able to set good results as I’m always good at the start of the season. It would be nice to win in Mallorca, but there’s no pressure.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Victor Campenaerts, Jasper De Buyst, Frederik Frison, Moreno Hofland, Tomasz Marczyński, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Lawrence Naesen, James Shaw, Jelle Vanendert and Tim Wellens.
Sports directors: Bart Leysen and Frederik Willems.

Maxime Monfort:

2018 Abu Dhabi Tour Team Line Up
The world’s top riders will be at the start including last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner Rui Costa, Tom Dumoulin, Fabio Aru, Alejandro Valverde and the sprinters Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, André Greipel, Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan.

Many of the best riders on the planet have confirmed their participation in the race, with names such as last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour winner Rui Costa, Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, former Vuelta a España winner Fabio Aru and a number of other top-class contenders for the final General Classification victory. Among the sprinters we’ll see the very finest from the WorldTour peloton going shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel, including the Manxman Mark Cavendish, the Italian Elia Viviani and the Germans Marcel Kittel and André Greipel.

17 UCI WorldTeams and three UCI Professional Continental Teams will start the Abu Dhabi Tour, the only Middle Eastern race on the 2018 UCI WorldTour calendar. Each team will consist of seven riders.

UCI WorldTeams

Known for 20 years as Lampre, last season the team was rebranded as UAE Emirates. Managed by the former Italian champion Giuseppe Saronni, in 2017 the team recorded 19 victories, including one stage at the Giro d’Italia (Jan Polanc) and one at the Vuelta a España (Matej Mohoric). At Abu Dhabi look out for the former World Champion Rui Costa, winner of 2017 Abu Dhabi Tour, and the Italian climber Fabio Aru.

AG2R Prévoyance joined the Chazal-Vanille et Mûre team (formed in 1992 by Vincent Lavenu) as co-partner in 1997 and became principal partner three years later: in 2008 the team was renamed AG2R La Mondiale. Over 400 wins to date, 23 of them earned at Grand Tours: 18 at the Tour de France, three at the Vuelta a España, and two at the Giro d’Italia. 16 victories in 2017 include a stage at the Tour de France with Romain Bardet, one at the Tour de Suisse (Domenico Pozzovivo) and the Tre Valli Varesine win for Alexandre Geniez.

Astana is part of the Astana President’s Professional Sports Club, formed in 2012 by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, N.A. Nazarbayev. Astana’s palmarés includes an Olympic gold medal (Alexander Vinokourov, now General Manager, won the Men’s Road Race, London 2012), eight Grand Tour victories and 41 Grand Tour stage wins. Last year Astana Pro Team recorded 18 wins, including one stage at the Tour de France with Alexey Lutsenko. Under the Abu Dhabi spotlights will be the Colombian Miguel Ángel López.

Founded in 2016, Bahrain-Merida is a team supported by a consortium of businesses and partners from the island of Bahrain and His Highness Sheikh Nasser. In its inaugural season Bahrain-Merida achieved 12 wins (including Il Lombardia, the Italian Monument race) and two prestigious podiums with Vincenzo Nibali, third at the Giro d’Italia (behind Tom Dumoulin and Nairo Quintana) and second at the Vuelta a España (behind Chris Froome). For Abu Dhabi the roster could include the Italian Domenico Pozzovivo.

This UCI WorldTour team, headquartered in Santa Rosa, California, was formed in 2006. Last year BMC Racing Team recorded 48 race wins, the most important being Paris-Roubaix and the Gent Wevelgem won by the Belgian Greg Van Avermaet; the Tour Down Under and the Tour of Romandie both won by Richie Porte; and the Vuelta a España’s Team Time Trial.

The UCI Continental Team founded in 2010 as NetApp, was upgraded the following season to Pro Continental status and enjoyed its Paris-Roubaix and Tour de Suisse debuts. Last season Bora-Hansgrohe reached WorldTour status and achieved 34 victories, including four Grand Tour stages and the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, with Peter Sagan.

The oldest sponsor in the peloton, Lotto became co-sponsor of Tönissteiner in 1984, and assumed the team’s main sponsorship a year later, while Soudal joined as the second name sponsor in 2015. The team now has more than 900 wins in its palmarès, including 35 Tour de France stage victories. Last year Lotto Soudal recorded 25 wins including a Giro d’Italia stage for Andrè Greipel and four Vuelta a España stage wins with three different riders: Tomasz Marczynski (2), Sander Armée and Thomas De Gendt. For Abu Dhabi Tour look out for the experienced German sprinter André Greipel.

This Australian professional road race cycling team launched in 2011 joined the WorldTour from 2012, and also has a women’s squad. The men’s team’s palmarès includes the 2012 Milan-Sanremo, the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and three Tour Down Under titles (2012, 2014, 2016) – all courtesy of Simon Gerrans – along with the very first Abu Dhabi Tour overall victory: Esteban Chaves in 2015, and a Paris-Roubaix with Mathew Hayman. Last year’s Mitchelton-Scott wins include the Yas Marina stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour and stage 7 at the Giro d’Italia (both won by Caleb Ewan). The roster for the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour could include Caleb Ewan, winner of last year’s Yas Marina stage.

Movistar is one of the most established squads. It was founded in 1980 as Reynolds (till 1989), then became very famous as Banesto thanks to the multiple victories of Miguel Indurain (1990-2004), then Caisse d’Epargne (2005, with Illes Baleares to 2010), becoming Movistar from 2011. From a total of 883 various victories, 110 are Grand Tour stages while 14 are Grand Tour overall wins (seven in the Tour de France, three in the Giro d’Italia, and four in the Vuelta a España). Last year Movistar Team achieved 31 wins, including the Monument race Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the other Ardennes classic, La Flèche Wallonne, both courtesy of the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde – who is the Movistar Team rider to watch in the next Abu Dhabi Tour.

This WorldTour team is based in Wevelgem, Belgium, the heartland of Flemish cycling. At the helm is Patrick Lefevere, one of the most successful managers in the history of cycling. Since 2003, the team has recorded more than 600 victories and last year’s achievements include five stages at the Tour de France, five at the Giro d’Italia, six at the Vuelta a España, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race with Philippe Gilbert, Paris-Tours with Matteo Trentin. Elia Viviani and the winner of 2017’s White Jersey for Best Young Rider, Julian Alaphilippe are the Quick – Step Floors riders to watch in the 2018 Abu Dhabi Tour.

Founded in 2007 and originally known as MTN–Qhubeka, Dimension Data became the first ever African cycling team to gain a WorldTour license, in 2016. Their palmarès includes a Milan-Sanremo win (Gerald Ciolek in 2013), seven Tour de France stages, one Vuelta a España stage, one Giro d’Italia stage, and two Tour of Britain overall classification victories (Edvald Boasson Hagen, 2015; Steve Cummings, 2016). The 2018 roster is built around its main sprinter Mark Cavendish, who, last year at the Abu Dhabi Tour won one stage and the Green Jersey (General Classification by points) for the second year consecutively.

Slipstream Sports was founded in 2005 by Jonathan Vaughters and Doug Ellis. In 2016 the Australian Michael Drapac became a co-owner of the team. The team’s major achievements include the 2012 Giro d’Italia with Ryder Hesjedal, the 2011 Paris-Roubaix (Johan Vansummeren), the 2013 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2014 Giro di Lombardia – both courtesy of the Irishman Daniel Martin. 14 wins last year, plus a prestigious podium at the Tour de France with Rigoberto Uran, finishing just 54 seconds behind race winner Chris Froome. For Abu Dhabi the Frenchman Pierre Rolland should be included in the team roster.

Katusha was originally a Russian-licensed cycling team, becoming a Swiss outfit in 2016. Team Katusha Alpecin’s palmarès boasts 22 Grand Tour stage wins. Among last year’s 17 victories, the major achievement was the Tour de Suisse General Classification with Simon Špilak. The Katusha Alpecin roster for the Abu Dhabi Tour will include the German sprinter Marcel Kittel and the Russian all-rounder Ilnur Zakarin. Last year Kittel won the second – the Nation Towers – stage, and will be one of the major contenders for the Green Jersey of the points classification. Zakarin, who podiumed at the 2017 Vuelta a España will race for the General Classification.

This Dutch cycling team was founded in 1984 under the name Kwantum, anchored by Jan Raas, and since 2015 the head sponsor has been Lotto-Jumbo. Last year Team Lotto NL-Jumbo recorded 26 wins; the most prestigious being the final stage of the Giro d’Italia with Jos van Emden and two Tour de France stages with Primoz Roglic (Stage 17) and Dylan Groenewegen on the Champs-Élysées (Stage 21).

The team was founded in 2009 with the aim to win the Tour de France within five years… and the first Grand Tour victory came in 2012 at the Grand Boucle with Bradley Wiggins, soon followed by four more from Chris Froome (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017). Last year Team Sky recorded 34 wins, including two Grand Tours (Tour de France and Vuelta a España with Chris Froome) and various classic races courtesy of Michal Kwiatkowski: the Pole won Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo and Clásica Ciclista San Sebastian.

Founded in 2005, this German WorldTour team is sponsored by the international tour operator Sunweb. The team’s major achievements include 39 Grand Tour stage wins (15 at the Tour de France, nine at the Giro d’Italia, and 15 at the Vuelta a España), the 2013 Paris-Tours victory, and in 2015 both the Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix classics. Last year for the first time in history a Team Sunweb rider won the Giro d’Italia (Tom Dumoulin) and, at the end of the year, the German-licensed team won the Team Time Trial at the World Championship in Bergen, Norway. At the Abu Dhabi Tour watch out for Tom Dumoulin.

Founded in 2011 as Leopard Trek, this US team’s biggest achievements are the Vuelta a España victory by Chris Horner in 2013, two Tours of Flanders and a Paris-Roubaix win, thanks to Fabian Cancellara. Last year’s victories included one Tour de France stage with Bauke Mollema and one at the Vuelta a España with Alberto Contador.

Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 – Official Promo:

UCI Professional Continental Teams

Founded in 1982 by Bruno Reverberi, Bardiani-CSF has raced the Giro d’Italia 34 times and includes 25 stage wins in its palmarès. Last year the team achieved four wins. The Abu Dhabi roster will include the sprinter Andrea Guardini, winner of the very first Abu Dhabi Tour stage in 2015.

Founded in 2012, Pro Continental team Gazprom-RusVelo has a roster comprising 100% of Russian riders. The team has registered more than 60 race wins to 2017, including one Grand Tour stage at the 2016 Giro d’Italia with Alexander Foliforov’s ITT. Last season the Russian team recorded two victories.

This global sports team made up entirely from athletes with diabetes comprises more than 100 cyclists, triathletes and runners, from 20 countries, and is spearheaded by the world’s first all-diabetic professional cycling team, based in the USA. Founded in 2005 by Phil Southerland and Joe Eldridge, Team Novo Nordisk’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower people affected by diabetes. The cycling team has amassed more than 30 victories since 2008.

Abu Dhabi Tour 2018 – The Route:

Giro del Belvedere Warming up the 80th Edition Engine
The Pro Belvedere prepares the historical 2018 edition of “Easter Monday Classic”, scheduled on Monday April 2nd in Villa di Cordignano (Italy). The route does not change featuring the ascents of Montaner and Via delle Longhe in the finale.

80 years of history staying young: year by year, the Giro del Belvedere keeps the roots linked to territory and traditions, increasing its international reputation in the U23 cycling calendar. Pro Belvedere’s organizers are warming up the “Easter Monday Classic” engine: on Monday April 2nd in Villa di Cordignano (Treviso, Northern Italy), the best prospects of world cycling will face one of the most prestigious races of the season, with the goal to be on the golden book following Belorussian Alexander Riabushenko, last year’s winner with the European Champion jersey.

The race will take place on the same route as the last editions over the traditional 166,6-Km course. The first part of the race unfolds along 11 laps of a 12-Km circuit, including the Conche hill. The finale is characterized by two laps of another circuit of 17,3 Km, including the classic Montaner climb, in Borgo Canalet (1,7 Km at 12% average gradient with peak at 20%), and the Via delle Longhe hill (0,5 km at 12% average gradient and 17% peak) with 9 Km to go.

Who will win the 80th Giro del Belvedere? As usually, the odds seems quite hard for such uncertain race. However, the Italian classic confirms to be international in scope as prestigious outfits like Dimension Data Continental (South Africa), Gazprom Rusvelo (Russia) and the national teams of Great Britain, United States and Australia confirmed their participation at the race alongside the large Italian teams’ line-up.

In the coming weeks, the organizers will unveil the side events’ schedule focused on the 80th anniversary until the big date.

The riders on the Giro del Belvedere route:

Cyclus Sports Leaps to UCI Continental Status for 2018
North Carolina team reveals all-American roster.

Cyclus Sports is the newest UCI Continental team in North America, in only its second season racing in the professional peloton. Based in Greensboro, North Carolina, the program is established on the twin pillars of clean racing and local development. Matt McNees and Neil A. Lewis founded the cycling company in 2013 with a mission to influence the direction of road racing in the United States.

“At Cyclus we’ve worked hard, learned and invested a lot in the sport,” McNees said. “To see it all coming together professionally is rewarding. I’m excited for us to be on the pro racing level but there’s still plenty of work to do as we move our way up the ranks.”

The company launched the racing team last season under a domestic elite status, since running affiliate teams in other cities across the east coast. The program maintains a zero positive initiative against doping, designed to provide the highest level of integrity for its riders, sponsors, and affiliates. Adding to the era of transparency, the team requires each rider to sign a contract stating if they should return a positive doping test, the result will be immediate termination from the program.

“We aim to bring outside investment into the sport and influence its direction for the betterment of the sport in the United States,” McNees added. “We took a more aggressive role last season, racing national events. We are proud to have reached continental status, and look forward to a solid building year for our sports management company.”

The UCI men’s all-American roster is mostly made of neo-pros, many with the capability of becoming general classification riders. The squad will look to returning all-arounder Michael Gearren, and sprinting specialist Brooks Deese to lead the team as they concentrate primarily on the Pro Road tour.

Assisting Deese in his charge to the finish line will be new addition Ben Renkema, the 2017 Cat 1 Crit National Champion, and 3-time Dirty Dozen winner Ian Baun, also returning from last season. Once the road begins to pitch, the pure-climbing duo of Oliver Flautt and Winston David will take the reins.

The team welcomes the experience and talent of the new riders, looking to earn consistently strong results on the national calendar. “The roster we put together is filled with riders that can take it to the line,” Jose Cates said, Director Sportif for Cyclus Sports. “The amount of work they have put in last season is a testament to the energy we have on this team. I’m excited to see them in action.”

The 2018 campaign will begin with a training camp March 17 in Greensboro following by their debut at the Alabama Cycling Classic, April 7-8.

2018 Cyclus Sports Roster:
Ian Baun, Winston David, Corey Davis, Brooks Deese, Oliver Flautt, Michael Gearren, Andrew Giniat, Parker Kyzer, Ricky Randall, Ben Renkema, Connor Sallee.

Mike Gearren, returns to help lead the team:

Katusha-Alpecin Final Days in Majorca 2018
Willie Smit has made another video, this time about the last days of the Katusha-Alpecin training camp in Majorca.

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