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Saint-Lary-Soulan - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - THOMAS Geraint (GBR) of Team SKY, FROOME Chris (GBR) of Team SKY pictured during the 105th Tour de France - stage - 17 from Bagnères-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan - 65KM - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

Who’s the Daddy now? As Geraint Thomas strengthens his Tour’18 lead we look at inter team rivalry – Top Story. We catch up with all the Tour de France news from the Pyrenees, plus a video message from Philippe Gilbert. Lots of other cycling news: Team previews of the Tour of Wallonie, Grand Prix Pino Cerami RideLondon. Yates twins stay at Mitchelton-Scott, AG2R-La Mondiale, LottoNl-Jumbo, Bora-Hansgrohe and Wanty-Groupe Gobert contracts, BMC to Dimension Data, beer for Quick-Step, Bianchi stay LottoNL-Jumbo and KPMG for Sunweb. Big coffee EUROTRASH Thursday.

TOP STORY: Inter Team Rivalry
De Muynk and De Vlaeminck, Lemond and Hinault, Roche and Visentini, Froome and Wiggins and now Thomas and Froome, the power struggle goes on.

Johan de Muynck would probably have won the 1976 Giro d’Italia, but a fall out with his Brooklyn team left him with no support when he crashed in the pink jersey and then lost out to Felice Gimondi in the final time trial. Lemond helped Hinault win his 5th Tour de France with the promise of the Frenchman helping the American win the next year, but the Badger had his eye on a record 6th win and there was accusations of subterfuge and sabotage, but Lemond won. Visentini was the Carrera team leader, rich, playboy good looks and the favorite of the Italians. Roche took the overall lead when Visentini cracked, but it was seen as back stabbing from the Irishman. “Someone will be going home tonight!” Visentini said. The Italian eventually crashed and didn’t finish the ’87 Giro and Roche went on to do the ‘triple’ – Giro, Tour and Worlds. Then came the 2011 Tour de France, the one Froome should have won if he hadn’t been told to wait for Bradley Wiggins, but that was before Jiffy Bags and TUEs were public knowledge.

Now it looks like the faithful team rider, Geraint Thomas will win his first Grand Tour and his team leader, Chris Froome is happy as long as a Sky rider wins. No record equaling fifth Tour win for Chris, that’s a big loss to his palmarès, will he stick to his promise or is he just not in the best form?

The rumors of a Welshman offering a bribe to a French policeman after the finish of stage 17 are unfounded.

Tour de France 2018
Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) took the first Pyrenean stage one week after he claimed his maiden Tour de France victory on the first day in the Alps. He extended his lead in the King of the Mountain classification while Geraint Thomas (Sky) finished with the other GC men on Stage 16 to retain the yellow jersey.

Attacks came thick and fast in the first two hours of the 218km stage 16, the peloton rode fast preventing any moves in the first 100 kilometers. There was a break at 30 kilometers due to a farmers protest where the riders were affected by pepper gas used by the police. 47 riders went clear and put more than ten minutes between them and the pack, Philippe Gilbert and Julian Alaphilippe were in the front group.

Gilbert attacked before the Col de Portet-d’Aspet to cross the summit with a minute advantage on the chasers. On a tricky left-hand bend, Gilbert over cooked it and went over a wall and landed in a ravine. Fortunately he climbed out and continued to finish the stage. On the Col de Menté Alaphilippe took maximum points from the 17 men left in the front group.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked on the final climb of the stage, the Col du Portillon, and looked like he would, but crashed on the descent with 7 kilometers to go and was passed by Alaphilippe who held of the chasing group of Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Yates and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Geraint Young and Chris Froome (Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) finished together with the other GC men and so there was no change on the overall standing.

PEZ Stage 16 Race Report HERE.

Stage winner and KOM, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): “Today it was a really crazy day. I had pain in the legs, but I don’t think I was the only one suffering. I knew the finale, with the climb and the downhill, but I still can’t believe that I won again. Taking two victories, one in the Alps and another one in the Pyrenees, is mind-blowing. The last 20 kilometers were very intense, with a lot of attacks and cat-and-mouse game in the escape. When I got word that Yates opened a half a minute gap, I decided to attack and managed to pull him back to ten seconds by the time he crashed. It’s never nice when this happens to someone, and I waited for him, but then I saw he was hesitating a bit, so I continued my race. Getting the victory in this town which is inextricably linked to the Tour is incredible, I would have never thought of this, and it makes me really proud to be on the top spot of the podium. To hold the polka dot jersey is a bonus and I will fight hard to keep it. The race and fight for the KOM aren’t over yet, but I am very motivated and confident. Seeing his [Philippe Gilbert] bike on the ground I got a bit scared, so I slowed down on the descent. It’s a real pity he crashed and is now out of the Tour. He’s been a huge helper for the team during the race and he deserves a lot of credit for the role played in our success.”

Overall leader, Geraint Thomas (Sky): “We were expecting fireworks and a lot of attacks, but they didn’t really materialize and obviously on the final climb there were a few and the boys were strong, we managed to control that and the final descent. Everyone rode really strongly and in a way it was good that the break took a while to go as it meant Luke [Rowe] didn’t have to ride as long on the front. The team are riding really well and we’re buzzing off each other. It’s good at the moment.”

2nd on the stage, Gorka Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida): “I spent a lot in over 100km of breakaway and also all the riders were excellent athletes. On the last climb, we tried together with Domenico, but Alaphilippe proved to be the strongest. Tomorrow will be a very special race and I would like to do a good race in front of the many Basque fans I will find on the road.”

3rd on the stage, Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott): “It’s just one of those things. I’ve taken more risks on more technical descents before and never had any problems. We can’t recon all of these stages and you don’t know what’s coming up on some of these corners, but it must have been a bit damp and I came down and that’s all there is to it. My morale is pretty damaged right now. When you come so close to winning a stage of the Tour it’s devastating, not just for me but for the team. We’ve been working at these stages, trying to do something and when you come that close it’s disappointing. He (Alaphilippe) is pretty good, isn’t he? I have raced him since we were back in under-23 and I know how good he is. But I had a healthy lead and I am pretty confident on the descent myself but it’s one of those things, you miss one corner and go down. It was the place I chose to (attack). You pick your moment and I picked that one. I could see everyone was hurting little bit. We have a short stage tomorrow and shorter stages are my favorite. Today was pretty long at 220km and tomorrow is 65km, so beautiful.”

5th on the stage and 20th overall, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida): “We wanted to try and overcome the Movistar who was the team leader. When the break started, we were ready and, in the final, we were three and they were only two. Last week I wasn’t at my best, now I’m really super and I’ll try again to do something more.”

8th on the stage, Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was such a big fight for the group today. It took more than 2 hours and I was already at my limit when I caught the final one. On the penultimate climb, I attacked because I found it easier to go at my own pace but, unfortunately, I ran a bit out of energy on the last climb. The Tour de France is such a demanding race, everything needs to be perfect if you want to win a stage but I’ll keep on trying.”

11th on the stage and 16th overall, Damiano Caruso (BMC): “The first part of today’s stage was really incredible because over the first two hours we were really going full gas and sometimes it’s difficult to find the right combination for the breakaway. At the end, we went after 100km but I was already tired when we went clear. Then, on the last climb I was really tired and I tried to keep my own tempo until the finish. I am not really satisfied with the result but I can be honest about it and I gave it my all today so, I cannot ask for more. Maybe I can try again at the end of the week.”

12th on the stage and 15th overall, Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I had a good day, that brought me closer in the general classification. I had better legs, which are still not exceptional. I miss one or two percent to compete for the stage victory, but it is rather encouraging compared to the riders who do not race for the general classification. I stay focused every day and pay for this at the end of the stage. We are fighting in friendship for the white jersey with Pierre Latour! We both have the same level and we have set up an alliance to get time on Bernal, who is superior in the mountains. Today I attacked and Pierre followed me. At this moment nobody of us is able to drop the other rider. I am afraid of tomorrow because a short stage is not really my specialty. I will need a good warm up, but I have the advantage of knowing the terrain. I explored the stage in June with my teammates during a training camp in the Pyrenees. It is up to me to take advantage of it, even though it will be necessary to dose my energy consumption during the short stage.”

Crash victim and ‘Most Combative Rider’ on the stage, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), will not be able to start stage 17. Further examination at the Toulouse hospital revealed that Gilbert had suffered a fracture on the lateral pole of his left patella: “First of all, I want to say that I’m happy to be here after that tough moment. I landed pretty hard on some stones, and initially didn’t want to move, but someone from Mavic came and helped me stand up and crawl back from that ravine. This isn’t how I wanted to finish my Tour and leaving it like this really hurts.”

Tour de France Stage 16 Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors in 5:13:22
2. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida at 0:15
3. Adam Yates (GB) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
5. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:18
6. Robert Gesink (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:37
7. Michael Valgren (Den) Astana at 0:56
8. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
9. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 1:10
10. Pierre Latour (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 1:18.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 16:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 68:12:01
2. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 1:39
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 1:50
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:38
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 3:21
6. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 3:42
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 3:57
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 4:23
9. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 6:14
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 6:54.

Stage 16:

Philippe Gilbert Update
A key and selfless player for Quick-Step Floors at the Tour de France, where he helped our team take four stage victories, the 36-year-old was forced to abandon the race on Tuesday evening, after picking up an injury following a crash on the descent of Col de Portet-d’Aspet.

Unfortunately, the knee fracture will keep Philippe off the bike for a few weeks and out of competition for at least six weeks, but despite this setback, our rider remained optimistic and vowed to return stronger.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) claimed the 3rd Colombian stage victory of the 2018 Tour de France, making the South American nation the most successful so far. The Movistar climber took the highest summit of the 105th edition in a solo move on the last climb of Stage 17 on the Col du Portet. Geraint Thomas (Sky) extended his lead in the overall ranking to 1:59 over Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) and 2:31 on his teammate, Chris Froome.

The top 10 riders on GC had a special position on the starting grit, but Tanel Kangert (Astana) was the first attacker, practically from the gun. Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) join him but 5km before the first summit at Peyragudes, Kangert was alone in the lead with an advantage of 25 seconds on Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors). The Frenchman was second to the Estonian at the summit.

Alaphilippe and Durasek caught Kangert 2 kilometers before the intermediate sprint at Loudenvielle after 27.5 kilometers, the Astana rider took the sprint. Three minutes behind the leading trio, Pierre Latour was first to up the tempo for AG2R-La Mondiale 6km before the top summit of Val Louron, the second Cat 1 KOM of the day. Durasek lost contact with Alaphilippe and Kangert who crested the Col de Val Louron in that order. 15km before the finish line at col du Portet, Kangert was alone and in the lead again. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) attacked from the yellow jersey group. Chris Froome reacted to an attack by Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo), but Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) eventually brought the Sky back.

With 10km to go, Kangert had 50 seconds lead over Alejandro Valverde, Quintana (Movistar) and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and 1:30 over the yellow jersey group. Quintana and Majka seized the command of the race with 8.5km to go. 6.5km before the finish, Quintana rode away solo. Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) didn’t manage to bridge the gap to the Colombian. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) lost contact with the yellow jersey group. Froome also couldn’t hold the pace when Roglic put the pressure on with 1.5km to go. Thomas kept the situation under control and out-sprinted the other top men. Tom Dumoulin moved into second place in the overall ranking behind Thomas and ahead of Froome.

PEZ Stage 17 Report HERE:

Stage winner and 5th overall, Nairo Quintana (Movistar): “It was a really hard day, but a magnificent one for us, really comforting. It was a stage I had marked down many weeks before this race, one I had prepared well for. I regret so much not having found good legs prior to this stage; my body just didn’t feel right, and lost too much time, which made me feel bad. Fortunately, I’m doing well now – let’s hope we can take advantage and fight hard on Friday, because we really believe we can still do something big in this Tour. The Movistar Team always trusted my skills – and here are some results to pay them back them! The team was perfect today. We had Alejandro up there in the breakaway, helping me out as much as he could after the attack I had launched. Also Soler, leading the peloton with a hard pace, trying to make things harder for our rivals before my move. We knew it was a finish for pure climbers, and it showed today. Thanks to the team’s work and Alejandro’s support, I could ride over the Col du Portet as if it were a mountain TT, and attack without looking back. This win gives me massive confidence for the remainder of the Tour de France. We must continue fighting and attacking – we know the GC win will be extremely hard, but we’ll try to make the race hard and see how far we can reach. Things did not go well for us in this Tour. We had some rough days, we were feeling sad. This brings us confidence and reasserts our will to fight in this race. I thank all my time, I thank God for protecting us and giving us hope and strength; my family and friends, always supporting me, giving me some advice, praying so things went well for us; and all Colombian fans. I feel their support on the road, wherever I go, with their messages on social media – it’s great to have them by our side, it really means a lot to me, makes me continue to push hard.”

3rd on the stage and overall leader, Geraint Thomas (Sky): “I was feeling really good and it was all about just defending that lead. I gained a few seconds on Dumoulin and Roglic – so a good day, I’m very happy. At the bottom of the climb obviously Quintana and Dan Martin went really early and then when Roglic went we forced Dumoulin to ride. It was a solid place already but fortunately when it did come back together we had numbers. The boys were just incredible again, everyone was really riding out of their skin. We’re riding so well as a team, that’s the reason I’m in this jersey.” And Paris? “I don’t even let myself think about it. I just keep doing what I’m doing, so just recover as best I can, get to the hotel and think about tomorrow. I just take it day by day, as soon as you start thinking too far ahead, bad stuff happens.”

2nd on the stage and 9th overall, Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates): “The last two or three days I have felt really good. It’s a really good sign. I planned to go earlier and that’s why we had Kristijan in the break. But it’s okay to say ‘attack early’, but there is so much wind on those early climbs so it wasn’t worth it. I had good legs and felt I could do a good last climb. I took advantage of the pace and they let me go and Nairo came with me, and then he attacked me and went so hard but I wanted to settle into my own tempo – it almost turned into a time trial to the top. I was trying to keep him at 10 or 15 seconds because at 500m I could usually close that gap, but at this altitude it was tough. He was the better guy on the day, but I was really proud of how the team and I rode today.”

4th on the stage and overall, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo): “It was a short stage but a very difficult day. I gave myself for one hundred ten percent and I’m happy with what I showed today. I wanted to gain time on my main rivals here, but unfortunately, I only succeeded to do so on Froome. There are still two decisive stages to come; another mountain stage and a time trial, so anything can happen. It’s now a matter of keeping my focus and continuing to fight until Paris. I felt very strong today. I’ll look at it day by day and than we’ll see where we’ll end up on Sunday.”

5th on the stage and 2nd overall, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb): “Taking time back was a good thing of course but that’s all that I had. Thomas was stronger than I was and I have to deal with that. I saw Froome was in difficulty but I didn’t know if it was a bluff so I waited a bit with my attack. I went and I tried but I didn’t have the legs to drop Thomas and Roglic. I’m focused on myself and I will always keep a bit of faith and hope. But so far Thomas has proven the strongest.”

13th on the stage and 8th overall, Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale): “It was a terrible day where my legs just did not respond. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes that’s how it is. This is sport, and you have to accept it. It did my maximum, but I was just the victim of terrible legs at the end. I actually had good legs through most of the stage, but on the last climb, I just could only climb at my pace. And that was really not good. I couldn’t accelerate anymore.”

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was a hard fight, right from the start. I went in the break and it was a day of endless suffering on the limit. Gregor did an amazing job, he pulled a lot and showed once again his great talent but there was no cooperation in our group, with Valverde also waiting for Quintana. As a result, our gap was not big enough for the last climb. I gave it my all when Quintana closed on us and I was the last guy from the break to stay on his wheel, but with 6km to go my batteries were empty and Quintana dropped me. I really wanted that win today, but I will try again the day after tomorrow.”

Tour de France Stage 17 Result:
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 2:21:27
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 0:28
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:47
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 0:52
5. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 0:52
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 1:05
7. Egan Bernal (Col) Sky at 1:33
8. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 1:35
9. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 1:35
10. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin at 2:01.

Tour de France Overall After Stage 17:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 70:34:11
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Sunweb at 1:59
3. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at 2:31
4. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo at 2:47
5. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 3:30
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo at 4:19
7. Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar at 4:34
8. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale at 5:13
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates at 6:33
10. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 9:31.

Stage 17:

Aru Back in the Pack as UAE Team Emirates Take on the Tour of Wallonie
UAE Team Emirates’ Fabio Aru will kick of the second part of his season this week, as the Italian looks to get back on track with a solid performance at the Tour of Wallonie (28 July – 1 August). Aru last appeared in the team’s jersey at the Giro d’Italia in May, but is determined to come back stronger, compete to the best of his ability with the General Classification (GC) contenders and take home his first win in UAE colors.

Joining Aru will be an experienced team of riders, plus a handful of young guns. They include: Matteo Bono, Manuele Mori Anass Ait El Abdia, Aleksandr Riabushenko, Simone Petilli and Przemyslaw Niemiec. The group will be guided by coaches Bruno Vicino and Paolo Tiralongo.

Commenting on his return, Fabio Aru said: “I’m happy that I can wear a race number on my back again; I really want to get back in to the group. The team and I have decided to add the Tour de Wallonie to my schedule and I will be riding on routes similar to the ones in the Ardennes Classics. Each day will feature sprints, hills and short yet intense climbs. I am sure that I will do a good job, which will be useful as I look to take on the second part of the season.”

The opening stage of the UCI European Tour race is almost completely flat and will undoubtedly end in a sprint finish. The real test for the riders will be their ability to manage any early breakaways on the short but punchy climbs across the following three stages – in particular Stage two which features no less than eight categorized climbs. The final stage will see the peloton battle it out on a 187.5km route with four categorized climbs – the first of which comes at just 16km into the race and could be pivotal in the outcome of the stage and the eventual GC winner.

BMC Racing Team Returns to One-Day Racing Action
BMC Racing Team is taking strong line-ups to two one-day races this week with Grand Prix Cerami (26 July) and the Prudential RideLondon Classic (29 July) both taking place during the final week of the Tour de France.

BMC Racing Team Sports Director Klaas Lodewyck will be at the helm in Belgium on Thursday with Maximilian Sciandri behind the wheel in the team car at the British UCI WorldTour race on Sunday.

“We have a really strong squad for Grand Prix Cerami. For most of the riders, the race will mark their return to competition after a long time without racing so we will have to see where everyone is. I think everyone will be free to race aggressively without one specific goal but for sure, if it comes down to a bunch sprint at the end, I think we have two very strong guys, Jempy Drucker and Jürgen Roelandts,” Lodewyck said.

“The Prudential RideLondon Classic is a good race for us. It is a race that we have already won with Jempy and we are once again lining up with a good team. It’s a good race to look for opportunities and breakaways as well as a bunch sprint and in that situation, we have both Jempy and Jürgen. This will also be a comeback race for a few of the guys and sometimes it is a hard race to interpret but we have a good team so we will try to do well,” Sciandri explained.

Drucker and Roelandts will be looking to test their legs at the one-day races after some time off racing.

“First of all, it is nice to finally race again after a two-month break which felt super long. Over the last few weeks, I have done some good training and I am feeling good but, racing and training are two different pairs of shoes. So, we will have to see how my body reacts but, I am super motivated for both races as I have good memories from them in the past,” Drucker said.

“For me, it has been a long period without racing so I am looking forward to being back at the start line. I have never raced Grand Prix Cerami so that will be a new one for me. I have done a good block of training so that race will be about seeing how the legs feel. Then, the Prudential RideLondon Classic is a race I really like. I have done it twice before and while I don’t expect my hard work to pay off right away, I hope I can do a nice final there and go into the next part of the season with a good feeling,” Roelandts added.

Grand Prix Cerami (26 July)
Rider Roster:
Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL)
Sports Director: Klaas Lodewyck (BEL)


Prudential RideLondon Classic (29 July)
Rider Roster:
Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Miles Scotson (AUS), Nathan Van Hooydonck (BEL)
Sports Director: Maximilian Sciandri (ITA)

Alberto Bettiol:

Ride London Classique
Team Sunweb coach Koen de Haan (NED): “Coryn came back to Europe this week and debuts her national jersey in London. She is motivated to show the jersey and sprint for a top result, like last year. With Lucinda, Ellen, Floortje, Leah and Pernille we have a strong team to support her. After strong team performances in the Women’s Tour and the Giro Rosa the team are ready for a short and spectacular race in downtown London and last year’s excellent performances give us extra motivation.”

RideLondon Classique (WWT)

Lucinda Brand (NED), Ellen van Dijk (NED), Leah Kirchmann (CAN), Floortje Mackaij (NED), Pernille Mathiesen (DEN), Coryn Rivera (USA).
Coach: Koen de Haan.

Ride London-Surrey Classic
Team Sunweb coach Aike Visbeek (NED): “We bring a solid team to this classic race. The course allows for many possible outcomes and therefore it’s tactically challenging, but Box Hill is a deciding factor in any situation. We will aim to bring the race down to a fast sprint with Phil, while we have Mike and Michael as riders that could aim for a result if the final gets really difficult. We need team work and focus through the whole day to be able to battle for a podium place.”

RideLondon Classique (WT)

Phil Bauhaus (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Lennard Hofstede (NED), Michael Matthews (AUS), Mike Teunissen (NED), Martijn Tusveld (NED), Max Walscheid (GER).
Coach: Aike Visbeek.

Michael Matthews and Aike Visbeek:
Liège - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Aike VISBEEK (Netherlands / Sportdirector Team Sunweb) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) pictured during the 104th Tour de France 2017 - stage 2 - from Düsseldorf to Liège, 203.50 km - foto Marketa Navratilova/Cor Vos © 2017

Preview GP Cerami and Tour de Wallonie
The upcoming week, two races in the French speaking part of Belgium are scheduled for Lotto Soudal: GP Cerami and Tour de Wallonie. The 52nd edition of the one-day race GP Cerami takes place on Thursday 26 July. The Tour de Wallonie will start two days later and is a five-day Europe Tour race in which the peloton will ride through the hilly Walloon landscape.

Since 1964, the GP Cerami has been organized in honor of Pino Cerami, an Italian rider who was naturalized as Belgian in 1956 and won some Classics such as Paris-Roubaix and Flèche Wallonne. The race starts in Saint-Ghislain and will finish, after more than 200 kilometers on a hilly course, in Frameries. The riders will have to tackle some hills which were made famous by the Spring Classics, like La Houppe and the Muur van Geraardsbergen. At around 40 kilometers from the end of the race, the riders will cross the finish line for a first time. Three local laps of 13.8 kilometers will then decide who succeeds Wout van Aert as the winner of GP Cerami.

The varied course of the Tour de Wallonie is suited to different kinds of riders. Sprinters, Classics riders, punchers and climbers will all have an opportunity to be victorious. The opening day of the Walloon stage race on Saturday 28 July will most likely be one for the sprinters. The following day, a hilly stage is scheduled, where the riders will climb the Citadel of Namur and finish downhill after a technical descent. The general classification will certainly be shaped during the third stage to La Roche-en-Ardenne, where the riders will have to tackle numerous climbs during the tough finale. The punchers will be excited about the penultimate stage, which finishes only a couple of kilometres after a short climb. The Tour de Wallonie ends in Waremme on Wednesday 1 August with another hilly stage. With a strong line-up including Jens Debusschere, Maxime Monfort and Tim Wellens, it seems that Lotto Soudal will be able to battle for the win in each of the five stages. Kurt Van de Wouwer, sports director at Lotto Soudal, previews the race.

Kurt Van de Wouwer: “All of the Lotto Soudal riders who compete in the Tour de Wallonie did a training camp in Livigno, except for Tim Wellens and Tosh Van der Sande. A big part of the peloton also prepared their second part of the season at altitude, so it’s always a bit of a guess at which level the riders are after a long period of training.”

“The opening stage can already be tricky because there are two cobbled sections of around four kilometres at the very end of the race. The next day, the riders have a tough stage ahead of them with a double ascent of the Citadel in Namur, where the finish line is drawn right after a downhill. These first two stages will already be decisive for the general classification. The third stage is also quite hard and I expect a breakaway that battles for the victory during stage 4. The final day of the Tour de Wallonie will be more than likely one for the fast guys.”

“Our main goal is to take a stage victory, but we have to be ambitious and go for the general classification as well. For every stage, we have multiple riders who can battle for the victory. In the sprint stages, that will be with Jens Debusschere. There will be some other sprinters at the start like Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) but I certainly count on Jens for the bunch sprints. Tim Wellens is of course a possible candidate for the overall victory. Tosh Van der Sande became second on the general classification last year, so he will be really motivated, as well as Maxime Monfort, who will ride in front of home crowds. The fact that we have different cards to play, allows us to wait and see how the race develops instead of designating one leader from the start.”

The Lotto Soudal riders are familiar with both Walloon races. In 2016, it was Jelle Wallays who took the victory in the GP Cerami after finishing solo in Frameries. Last year, Jasper De Buyst sprinted to a stage victory on the second day of the Tour de Wallonie.

Line-up Lotto Soudal, GP Cerami:
Jens Debusschere, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Wallays and Enzo Wouters.

Line-up Lotto Soudal, Tour de Wallonie:
Jens Debusschere, Frederik Frison, Maxime Monfort, Tosh Van der Sande, Jelle Wallays, Tim Wellens and Enzo Wouters.
Sports directors: Kurt Van de Wouwer and Marc Wauters.

Tim Wellens:

Preview: GP Cerami
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start the UCI 1.1 GP Cerami on Thursday and the Belgian one day race is an important fixture for our African Team as it marks the return to racing for Bernard Eisel.

The Grand Prix Cerami is a 202km classic style race, ending with a tough circuit finish in Frameries. The race will include a number of typical Belgian cobbled climbs, including the Muur de Geraardsbergen, and so we expect only a small selection of riders to be competing for the victory come the 14km finishing circuit.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka are looking forward to taking part in this tough Belgian race, more so because Bernard Eisel will make his return to racing at the event. Our Austrian has not raced since Tirreno-Adriatica in March where he crashed heavily. Starting GP Cerami marks the completion of Eisel’s recovery process and we are extremely glad to have our road captain back.

Joining Eisel in making a return to racing in Europe is Mekseb Debesay. Debesay crashed at the Tour de Langkawi, also in March, and fractured his pelvis. While Debesay did start his national champs earlier this month, the GP Cerami is also his first race back in Europe.

Ryan Gibbons, Scott Thwaites, Jaco Venter, Nic Dougall and Lachlan Morton will complete our team that starts the GP Cerami.

Bernie Eisel, Mekseb Debesay, Ryan Gibbons, Scott Thwaites, Jaco Venter, Nic Dougall, Lachlan Morton.

Race graphic explained:
The Belgian road sign for cyclists is a unique illustration of a commuter in trousers and a jacket and a detailed bicycle to match. With cycling so entrenched in the Belgian culture, one would only expect their road sign to be embellished. We tweaked the graphic a bit – find the Qhubeka hand.

Yates twins to continue their trajectory with Mitchelton-Scott
Two of cycling’s most exciting young climbers, British twins Adam and Simon Yates, will continue their journey with Mitchelton-Scott for the next two seasons, despite significant interest from other outfits.

Having joined the Australian outfit at the beginning of their professional careers in 2014, the new agreement continues the original ambitions set by the three parties – to develop into Grand Tour contenders.

Since arriving with the team both riders have finished in the top ten and have won the best young rider jersey at the Tour de France. A podium is the very realistic next step.

This year alone the pair have taken seven UCI WorldTour victories, three of which Simon claimed whilst wearing the Giro d’Italia’s Maglia Rosa for 13 days.

At just 25-years-old and already four and a half years with the team, head sport director Matt White said the partnership had and would continue to be an exciting and successful one. “The decision was made with our owner Gerry Ryan back in 2013 that we wanted to evolve into a team that could ride for general classification,” White said. “We then went about identifying young talent we believed in and developed them within our unique culture.”

“It’s ongoing process, but we have certainly come a long way in a very short amount of time. In just ten Grand Tour attempts, we have already achieved two podiums and seven top-ten results. We are proud of what we have achieved so far and we have an unwavering belief in these two young men. With their returned faith, we know even bigger things are on the horizon. Along with Esteban Chaves, we have three of the most promising talents of this generation. That is a very exciting prospect for the team moving forward.”

In May this year, Simon and Mitchelton-Scott’s performance in the opening fortnight of racing at the Giro d’Italia was unlike anything of recent times. Their aggressive approach saw the Briton claim three of the team’s five stage victories in the Maglia Rosa. That performance, along with second overall and stage wins at Paris-Nice and Tour of Romandie in the past two years has caught the eyes of many.

“I’m really pleased to stay with Mitchelton-Scott for other two seasons,” Simon Yates said. “As I have said all along, this was never a decision about money, this is about winning bike races. This team has believed in us from the beginning and given us opportunities to ride as leaders in key races from a young age. We’ve had clear ambitions together from the beginning and we have achieved a lot, but we are all hungry for more. I believe more than ever we can podium or win a Grand Tour.”

Fourth at the Tour de France in 2016, Adam Yates has delivered multiple stage wins and top-5 overall performances at Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of California and runner-up at the recent Criterium du Dauphine already in 2018. Whilst suffering from a mistake in hydration at this year’s Tour de France, the Briton has quickly switched focus to stage wins before fighting for general classification again in 2019.

“It’s the best option, not just for me but for Simon,” Adam Yates said. “We’ve been with the team from the beginning, we’ve had great success and the team has supported us every step of the way so there’s no reason to change and we are both really happy to stay. We’ve already achieved some great results, we’ve both won the white jersey at the Tour and won a lot of races along the way. The team is still focussed on riding for the GC and we will continue to do that. Hopefully we can take the Grand Tour victory that the team want, and that we want. We just have to keep working and it’s going to happen.”

AG2R-LaMondiale Contract Renewals
Vincent Lavenu, general manager of the AG2R La Mondiale team, has announced the renewal of the following riders’ contracts:

Gediminas Bagdonas (1 year)
Clément Chevrier (2 years)
Samuel Dumoulin (1 year)
Hubert Dupont (1 year)
Alexandre Geniez (2 years)
Alexis Gougeard (1 year)
Quentin Jaurégui (2 years)
Nans Peters (2 years)
Stijn Vandenbergh (1 year)

In addition to that, Benoit Cosnefroy’s contract has been extended until 2020. “We continue to maintain our trust in riders who have proven themselves in our colors. This cohesion and team spirit are key to our success. Additional contract extensions are currently under discussion,” Vincent Lavenu explained.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo Extends Contracts with De Tier and Wynants
Team LottoNL-Jumbo announces that Floris De Tier and Maarten Wynant have extended their contracts. The Belgium riders will be part of the Dutch World Tour team for another year.

Wynants is happy that he extended his contract: “This team keeps progressing. It’s a good thing I will be part of it next year.” The Belgium cyclist has been competing for Team LottoNL-Jumbo since 2011.

Sportive Director Merijn Zeeman thinks Wynants is a valued team player. “Maarten is a big value in the spring classics. But also for our sprinters and GC riders. We’re working on the team of the future. It’s good he’ll stay part of it.”

De Tier is also happy he’s staying with the team. “I notice the team is important for my development. In certain races, I really made a step forward compared to last year. Team LottoNL-Jumbo takes notice of the smallest things and everything within the team is well organized. I’m already looking forward to race in the team’s new jersey next year.”

Zeeman: “Floris is a promising climbing talent. We will work on his progress in the upcoming months and years.”

Earlier, Team LottoNL-Jumbo announced the contract extensions of Antwan Tolhoek and George Bennett. Gijs Van Hoecke will continue his career at another team.

Floris De Tier:

Meurisse Extends for Two Years
Xandro Meurisse has extended his contract with Wanty-Groupe Gobert for two years. The 26-year-old Belgian started his professional career in 2017 at team Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Meurisse finished on the podium in Volta Limburg Classic in 2017 and the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2018 and was also noticed in the final of Flèche Brabançonne. The young father, selected for the European Championships in Glasgow in August, will be part of the team for the next two years, until the end of 2020.

Xandro Meurisse: “My work and services for the team have always been appreciated. Some time ago I received guarantees about my future at Wanty-Groupe Gobert. So I did not hesitate to extend for two seasons, despite the different offers that I received. The team has offered me great opportunities in the last two years and I have continued to make progress. Now I have proven that I can achieve good results and I want to continue playing my role for the next two years. I now hope for a great victory to thank the trust I received, especially from our manager Jean-François Bourlart and Hilaire Van der Schueren.”

“Last week I resumed the competition in some kermesse races after a break after the Belgian championships. I did not aim for a result. The intention was to get some rhythm and fitness again for the rest of the summer. I now head to GP Cerami and then the Tour of Denmark, where I want to perform but also want to think about the European Championships. When I heard about the hilly course, I started to think about it. Kevin De Weert contacted me after the Dauphiné to tell me that I was in the preselection. I am very happy to participate and I want to play my role for the Belgian national team.”

Xandro Meurisse:

BORA – hansgrohe Signs Johannes Schinnagel as Stagiaire
The 22-year old German, who is currently contracted with Tirol Cycling Team, raced already for Ralph Denk in U-19 as part of Team Auto Eder Bayern. Now he can prove himself until the end of the season with WorldTeam BORA – hansgrohe.

“Since 2017 I run a U-19 squad with the main sponsor Auto Eder, who is also one of our partners at BORA – hansgrohe. It is always special when one of the young guys makes his way to our WorldTeam, that means a lot to me. Johannes is a talented rider that developed well the last years in other teams. Now he will get the chance to prove himself at the Czech Cycling Tour and the Tour of Slovakia. After those races we will see if there is a future for him at BORA – hansgrohe.”Ralph Denk, Team Manager.

“I am very excited to get this chance. It’s a dream for every young cyclist to move up to WorldTour ranks. Now it’s up to me to prove myself. A little advantage might be I know already the structure of the team and some of the staff members from my time at Team Auto Eder Bayern. I also want to thank Tirol Cycling Team who give me the chance to take that opportunity.”Johannes Schinnagel.

Ralph Denk and Johannes Schinnagel:

BMC Switzerland Partners with Team Dimension Data
BMC Switzerland is excited to announce a new partnership with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, as of the 1st of January 2019, for three years. This is a significant move bringing innovative BMC bike technologies and BMC’s pedigree in World Tour cycling together with Team Dimension Data’s ambitions to forge a new age and truly global acting cycling team, offering much more than just ‘racing’ to its loyal fans and followers.

After the passing of BMC founder Andy Rihs this April, many stories around BMC Switzerland and its future in racing have been circulating. BMC is grateful to Continuum Sport, Jim Ochowicz and his team, operating the BMC Racing Team successfully over the past decade. We have enjoyed many major victories together, including the Tour de France, TTT World Championships and Olympic gold, which laid the important base, shaping the best and fastest road bikes in world. After this successful partnership it is now good timing for both sides to embrace change. BMC Switzerland wishes Jim Ochowicz and everyone at Continuum Sport all the best on their plans moving forward.

This new partnership with Team Dimension Data now guarantees BMC’s future in World Tour cycling and Andy Rihs legacy and vision for innovative bikes and racing will live on. This is an exciting moment for all BMC supporters and fans around the globe to celebrate and get behind this new project. We are excited to share this next chapter with you.

“We are very thankful to Continuum Sports and all the riders for the success we have achieved together as the ‘BMC Racing Team’. BMC’s DNA is racing; this was driving Andy and is driving us today. We want to ensure Andy’s legacy and that of BMC continues in a sustainable and progressive manner, in line with today’s demands. Joining Team Dimension Data is much greater than purely ‘racing’, we will bring our credibility, building the fastest bikes in the world and combine our visions, being stronger together.” David Zurcher, CEO BMC Switzerland.

“We are delighted to be joining forces with BMC Switzerland as we take a significant step forward into the future for our team. BMC’s outstanding track record speaks for itself; and to be able to call on their world-leading technology starting 2019, will see us compete consistently among the very best teams on the World Tour. We are a team that, through title sponsor Dimension Data, are focused on innovation thanks to their ground-breaking technology and BMC joining us is a natural fit. The rise of Team Dimension for Qhubeka has been meteoric and this new partnership will ensure that trajectory is continued into the future. Our shared goals are completely aligned in the continued belief that ‘bicycles change lives’, through the Qhubeka charity, and we are delighted that BMC will continue this journey with us. Andy Rihs left an indelible mark on our sport; and it’s a privilege to be able to be the team that will continue to honor his legacy and the passion that he had for cycling”. Douglas Ryder, Principal Team Dimension Data

We encourage riders and fans to use the hashtag #WeRideForAndy in memory and solidarity for what Andy has given to the world of cycling and celebrate the remaining 2018 season.

About BMC: www.bmc-switzerland.com/int-en. Official hashtag: #Ride_BMC #WeRideForAndy.

Learn more about the team at www.africasteam.com.

Maes, the beer best shared with mates, named official partner of Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team
As of January 2019, the Maes 0.0% logo will adorn the jerseys of the Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team. The Maes Brewery’s alcohol-free edition will namely be an official partner of the Quick-Step Floors Team known as “The Wolfpack”. There is no other cycling team with such a strong sense of unity as Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team, a bond that plays a major role in the success of this team in any given race. As the “beer best shared with mates”, Maes shares the exact same spirit. Maes believes that the bond between real mates make them stronger as a group, a vision that is in perfect unison with that of #TheWolfpack.

The Maes Brewery has signed a multi-year deal with Patrick Lefevere’s team. The announcement was made at a special press conference in Carcassonne on the second rest day of the Tour de France and in the presence of several top-name cyclists such as Philippe Gilbert, Yves Lampaert and Julian Alaphilippe.

The mates of The Wolfpack
Maes is the beer you share with real mates. And cycling may well be the one sport that brings mates together like no other. That team spirit is in fact what makes cycling one of the finest sports in Belgium.

Nowhere is that sense of group unity as strong as with the Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team. Quick-Step Floors’ riders have long been known as “The Wolfpack” and just like a pack of wolves, they do everything together as part of an extremely close family. That is why Maes has opted to forge an equally strong partnership with the Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team.

Jan Bosselaers, Marketing Director at Maes: “We didn’t hesitate for a second to join forces with this unique team. The Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team is one of the world’s biggest and best. It was also immediately clear that Maes and the Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team share the same values. At Maes, we believe that the bond between real friends makes them stronger as a group, a philosophy that fits that of The Wolfpack perfectly,” says Bosselaers. “We are so excited to get started and very much look forward to working together over the coming years.”

Lefevere: ‘A Partner that fits us perfectly’

“I am very happy with this new collaboration,” states team CEO, Patrick Lefevere. “Maes 0.0% is the perfect match for our team. No other brand projects the message of camaraderie like the “mates’ brand”. It will be interesting to work together and use our platform to spread the team and the brand messages in a creative way. No doubt we can expect many initiatives in the years to come.”

As Yves Lampaert added, “A partnership with the ‘mates’ brand: an ideal combo, because we are also a real team of mates. Which is why I’m so glad Maes 0.0% will be the team’s newest partner. Furthermore, it fits perfectly with our diet and it will be an original and healthy way to celebrate our victories next year. I hope that the new collaboration will encourage our fans to opt for the alcohol-free option every now and then: not only much healthier but you also don’t have to stop drinking if you still need to drive home.”

Maes 0.0%, the refreshing beer for great moments with mates

Maes hopes this collaboration will enable it to garner more fans for the “mates’ brand”, via the team but also cycling in general. And the brewery will do so with the Maes 0.0% brand. Awareness for the responsible use of alcohol and for a healthy lifestyle is growing. And while playing sport is an important part of healthy living for Belgians, the time spent sharing a drink with mates after training or a match are just as important. As of this year, those moments can be accompanied by Maes 0.0%, the perfect combination between a refreshing beer taste, 0.0% alcohol and, with just 20kcal/100mL, low in calories.“We also hope to spark responsible alcohol consumption with this partnership, while making Maes 0.0% a popular choice within the daily life of the average Belgian,” concludes Jan Bosselaers.

The Maes 0.0% logo will be visible on the backs of Quick-Step Floors cyclists as of 2019.

More info: www.alken-maes.com

Bianchi Extends Multi-Year Sponsorship Agreement with Team LottoNL-Jumbo
World Tour team continue to ride all Bianchi Countervail models: Oltre XR4, Specialissima, Infinito CV and Aquila CV.

Bianchi strengthens its investment in the World Tour cycling by renewing the sponsorship deal with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. The partnership, started in 2014, has proved successful through a continuous and mutual development process both on the racing and product sides. Bianchi’s commitment to provide the best racing bikes for each race condition has significantly contributed to the team’s success over the last five years. The feedbacks and inputs from all riders and performance staff have supported Bianchi engineers to fine tune technologies and frame performance, leading the way to memorable victories. Bianchi and Team LottoNL-Jumbo collected almost 100 victories so far, including Tour de France stage wins claimed by Lars Boom (2014), Primoz Roglic (Serre Chevalier 2017) and Dylan Groenewegen (Champs Elisées 2017, Chartres and Amiens Métropole 2018) but also Italian Enrico Battaglin’s win in this year Giro d’Italia and Roglic’s overall victories in Itzulia Basque Country, Tour de Romandie and Tour of Slovenia.

Bob Ippolito (Bianchi CEO): “To win you need to partner with winning people. This is why we believe in our successful association with Team LottoNL-Jumbo: we both focus on innovation and human power to achieve our goals as one team. With World-class organization and high-performance-driven staff, the team has significantly grown in the last two years being able to succeed in all fields. Groenewegen is one of the best sprinters in the World and Primoz Roglic proved to be a solid leader in stage races. We enjoy to win in all situations which is in line with our strategic product development philosophy: provide the best bike for each race condition thanks to our Bianchi CV models engineered with Countervail carbon material.”

Richard Plugge (Team LottoNL-Jumbo Manager): “In the five years that we cooperate now, we have managed to develop further and further. We have grown together. Both as a team, with great results and rising youngsters, as Bianchi, with the bikes we use. We provide the essential inputs to improve them. The base for both of us is innovation. Team LottoNL-Jumbo wants to do better every day and at Bianchi rules the same mentality. So far it has been a great partnership and it’s looking bright for the future as well. I’m very happy that we have managed to extend this successful cooperation.”

Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo Rider): “As riders we experience that Bianchi cares about details. They use the best technology and the best materials. That makes the difference. In the race we have full control over the bike, which is important. The Countervail technology helps to save energy and that counts at the end. Beside that is Bianchi also a lifestyle, with its Italian passion and the ‘celeste’ color. I’m glad that we will continue to be part of the family.”

KPMG to Become Team Sunweb’s Data Partner
KPMG and Team Sunweb are set to work closely together to lift the team’s performance analyses to the next level. As part of the new partnership, KPMG will help Team Sunweb to become a more data-driven organization. With the aid of innovative technology, a data platform will be built for predictive analyses.

Read the full press release here.

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