What's Cool In Road Cycling

EUROTRASH: Pidcock Targets Omloop to Liege, Pog ->Paris-Nice

Cycling catch-up

Wall to wall racing as the Tour of Oman finishes and the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol and the Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta get started. Plus the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior and the Ecuadorian national championship reports, results and video.

Tom Pidcock keen to race from Omloop to Liège – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Mathieu van der Poel’s spring race schedule, Tadej Pogačar to ride Paris-Nice, Elisa Balsamo extends with Trek-Segafredo, Marianne Vos to have operation, Marta Cavalli struggling with anxiety and Stijn Steels to join Eurosport commentary team.

Team news: Soudal Quick-Step celebrate 900 victories and the next races for DSM, AG2R Citroën and the Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team.

Race news: Giro Donne and Baby Giro to be organised by RCS Sport, Amstel Gold Race wildcards and low helicopter causes problems in Oman.

Plus Arnaud De Lie wants to win a big race, video interview.
EUROTRASH Thursday coffee time.


top story
TOP STORY: Pidcock Keen to Race from Omloop to Liège
Tom Pidcock started his road campaign on Wednesday in the Volta ao Algarve. The Portuguese stage race is mainly a warm-up for the spring Classics for the British all-rounder. “From the Omloop (Het Nieuwsblad) to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, he wants to play with his condition and participate everywhere for a win,” said his trainer Kurt Bogaerts to Het Laatste Nieuws.

It is very important to Pidcock to show well in the spring. The 23 year-old rider ended his cross season early for the benefit of his road season. Although he did battle with Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, the two grandmasters, in cyclo-cross. “Compared to previous years, he was in the direct duels with Van Aert and a top-level Van der Poel, but he was well in between,” concluded Bogaerts. “And that in a training phase. He has drawn satisfaction and confidence from that.” Pidcock will not start with high ambitions in the Volta ao Algarve, his first road race of 2023. “But he is already better than last year. Last week he had to deal with some stomach problems, although without a day of training. We’ll see. There is currently no pressure to perform. The intention is that he will grow progressively in the season from now on.”

Pidcock wants to find his top form quickly because the first Classics follow quite soon. “If you want to be good in the Strade Bianche one week later, a decent level in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is already necessary. This is followed by alternating cobbled and climbing classics. With numerous possibilities until the end of April. A period in which he can play with his condition and must be able to compete everywhere to win,” expects his coach.

Pidcock is not really concerned with racing for GC’s this season, although there will be a first exam as a classification man in Tirreno-Adriatico. “But he will continue to walk two paths for the time being,” said Bogaerts.

Tom Pidcock looking forward to the Classics:


Tour of Oman 2023
Young American talent Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) flew to his first professional victory on Stage 3 of the Tour of Oman 2023. The 23-year-old climber made the most of the steepest sections leading to the finish in Al Hamra (climb of Jabal Hatt, 4.6km at 8.5%) to get the better of another young talent, Belgium’s Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step), and France’s Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën). Not only did Jorgenson take the stage win, he also claimed the leader’s red jersey.

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The start from Al Khobar quickly saw five attackers jump ahead of the bunch: Johan Meens (Bingoal WB), Alejandro Franco (Burgos-BH), Said Al Rahbi (Oman National Team), Stephen Bassett (Human Powered Health) and Mohd Harrif Saleh (Terengganu Polygon). They opened a gap of 3:30 while Jesus Herrada’s Cofidis team did the work in the bunch to defend their leader’s red jersey. Al Rahbi and Saleh struggled on an uphill section 45 kilometres into the stage. Saleh made his way back to the front of the race, but Al Rahbi dropped back to the bunch. Saleh goes first at the intermediate sprint (93.1km) to defend his teammate Jeroen Meijers’ golden jersey as the leader of the most aggressive rider classification. He then also dropped back to the bunch.

Meens, Franco and Bassett started the last 50km with a lead of 3:30. A dozen kilometres further into the race and UAE Team Emirates also sent a man at the front of the bunch to help with the chase. The gap came down to 1:40 in the last 20km and under a minute with 12km to go. The attackers are eventually caught just ahead of the final climb: 4.6km at 8.5% with sections around 15% in the last 2km. Already in the top 5 up Qurayyat, Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) senses his opportunity to make a move. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) also wanted to make it a hard race. But nobody, not even the Kazakh all rounder and a 2-time winner of the Tour of Oman, can’t hold Jorgenson, who sprints to victory in the final 200m.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar): “It’s a super special day, a huge relief. I’m not a rider used to win so much, I honestly thought a day like this would never happen, and today I could get that pressure off and open my account. I’m so thankful to the team for their work. They always kept me in great position, covered from the wind. Mathias and Imanol at the start; Max completed a perfect lead-out into the foot of the climb; then, my Pan-American friend, Abner González, from Puerto Rico, who rode so strong over the last few days despite coming right from PR and his jet-lag. I knew from the previous day’s stage that I had really good legs, and I wanted to test my rivals on the final slope. It took a second for them to make it back, I knew I was strong, then I launched my sprint with 200 meters to go. This gives me great confidence on my condition, to be the strongest on such an effort, though I know Green Mountain will be quite a longer climb and, more importantly, harder. I’m hoping we can control the situation well; help Max out tomorrow, so he can claim his own first pro win; and try and defend this leader’s jersey on Wednesday.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën): “We knew that the climb to Jabal Hatt, which is longer than the one to Qurayyat the day before, suited me better. A big thank you to all my teammates who protected and trusted me all day. I didn’t want to follow the first attack in the final because the gradient was terrible. I came back to the front just after the start of the final sprint. And in the end, I got this podium at the finish. This third place confirms the good feelings I felt during our training camp in Sierra Nevada. Now we have two days left to complete all the work. Tomorrow, the stage will be more for the punchers. I think everything will be decided on the last stage with the ascent of Green Mountain.”

Tour of Oman Stage 3 Result:
1. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar in 3:33:51
2. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:02
3. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:03
4. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) Arkéa Samsic
5. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
6. Victor Langellotti (Pol) Burgos-BH
7. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
8. Harold Tejada (Col) Astana Qazaqstan at 0:07
9. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:09
10. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:11.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 3:
1. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar in 11:25:48
2. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:06
3. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:14
4. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:15
5. Maxim Van Gil (Bel) Lotto Dstny
6. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 0:16
7. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:18
8. Victor Langellotti (Pol) Burgos-BH
9. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
10. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) Arkéa Samsic.

Oman’23 stage 3:


After he came close to victory in Qurayyat and Al Hamra, Diego Ulissi rose his arms in triumph on Tuesday, in Yitti. Stage 4, the longest of the Tour of Oman 2023 (204.9km), had an explosive finale in store for the peloton with a couple of climbs in the last 10 km. Pascal Ackermann, Ulissi’s teammate in UAE Team Emirates, went on the move on these up and down sections before he was caught with 2km to go… It was then time for the Italian puncheur to display his power and take victory ahead of Axel Zingle (Cofidis) and Ide Schelling (BORA-hansgrohe), while Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) retained the leader’s red jersey.

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As usual in this Tour of Oman 2023, attackers got on the move immediately after the start, from Izki. But the 204.9km inspired many riders, leading to a relentless battle for the break of the day. Josef Cerny (Soudal Quick-Step) tried to make a difference. Jeroen Meijers (Terengganu Polygon) was also determined to race at the front to defend his golden jersey as the leader of the most aggressive rider classification. But everything was back together ahead of the first intermediate sprint (52.4km). Fredrik Dversnes seized the opportunity to take 3 points and the lead of the virtual standings against Meijers (13pts to 11).

It takes two hours of racing at 47.3km/h for a group to eventually make the break with Dversnes, back at the front after he was reeled in by the bunch, as well as the U23 World champion Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana Qazaqstan), Urko Berrade (Kern Pharma) and the winner of the African Games Youcef Reguigui (Terengganu Polygon). They entered the last 100km with a lead of 3:40. Matteo Jorgenson’s Movistar team drove the bunch to defend the red jersey and they had support from Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis. Those teams controlled the gap around 2 minutes. Reguigui took the second intermediate sprint with 49.2km to go, ahead of Dversnes, who extended his lead in the most aggressive rider classification. Reguigui dropped back to the bunch as the break started the last 20km with a lead of 1:10.

Dversnes, Fedorov and Berrade were caught at the bottom of the penultimate climb of the day, in Al Jissah (2.5km at 6.9%). Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Qazaqstan) set a hard pace on the climb and a small group emerges off the front. Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) attacked on the downhill and manages to open a gap of 25 seconds. He was caught inside the last 2km. Ivan Cobo (Kern Pharma) launches a counter-attack on the final ascent (1.6km at 6.6%). He was caught at the summit, inside the last kilometre. The battle for the stage win came down to a sprint from a reduced group. And Diego Ulissi demonstrates once again his expertise. Matteo Jorgenson safely defended his red jersey on the eve of the final battle up Green Mountain.

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Stage winner and 2nd overall, Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates): “I’m delighted with this first victory of the season. It was a hard stage. Ackermann attacked with 8km to go and on the final climb Laengen and Formolo did the perfect job for setting up the sprint. Ackermann’s attack softened up the bunch well and we took a great victory. We’ve started the season very well as a team.”

3rd on the stage, Ide Schelling (BORA-hansgrohe): “It’s going well. On the climb I was completely broken. Halfway through the climb I wasn’t sprinting. I’m happy with the result. There might have been more residents because I was perfectly positioned. During the sprint I was hoping for more. But I’m certainly not in the shape I need to be in yet.”

Tour of Oman Stage 4 Result:
1. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates in4:36:48
2. Axel Zingle (Fra) Cofidis
3. Ide Schelling (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
4. Jordi Warlop (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step
5. Louis Bendixen (Den) Uno-X
6. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Arkéa Samsic
7. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën
8. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny
9. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
10. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 4:
1. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar at 16:02:36
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:05
3. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step
4. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:14
5. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:15
6. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 0:16
7. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:18
8. Victor Langellotti (Pol) Burgos-BH
9. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
10. Cristián Rodríguez Arkéa Samsic.

Oman’23 stage 4:


The Final Stage 5 of the Tour of Oman 2023, finishing for the first time up the Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain), saw two 23 year-old talents rise to victory in an explosive finale. Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step) was the strongest on the brutal slopes of the 5.7km ascent with an average gradient of 10.5% to take an emotional victory in front of his family, who came to Oman to support him. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) hung on to save the leader’s red jersey by 1 second. A couple of days after his first professional victory, he became the first American overall winner of the Tour of Oman.


There were seven early attackers as soon as the race left Samail: Lawrence Naesen (AG2R Citroën), Ceriel Desal (Bingoal WB), Angel Fuentes (Burgos-BH), the Oman National champion Faisal Al Mamari (Oman National Team), Benjamin Perry (Human Powered Health), Irwandie Lakasek (Terengganu Polygon) and Manabu Ishibashi (JCL Team Ukyo).

They opened a gap of 4:10 after 14km but Astana Qazaqstan react at the front of the bunch to defend the options of Alexey Lutsenko, who dominated Jabal Al Akhdhar and the Tour of Oman in 2018 and 2019. The Kazakh team control the gap around 2 minutes. Al Mamari was first through the intermediate sprint of Wadi Squt (62.7km to go). Some 20km later, Lakasek and then Al Mamari were dropped. The gap increased again to 2:40, before the peloton started to chase inside the last 30km. But the break were not ready to be reeled in. They still had an advantage of 1:20 at the bottom of the climb up Jabal Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain): 5.7km at 10.5% to decide the Tour of Oman 2023.

Intermarché-Circus-Wanty set the pace on the first part of the climb. Naesen and Desal were the last riders to be caught, just inside 4km of climbing. With 3km to go, only Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar), Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step) and Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) can hold Rein Taarämae (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty). But the Estonian climber is the next rider to crack. It eventually came down to an uphill sprint. Vansevenant had the best jump to take the victory in-front of his parents and his sister. But Jorgenson hung on to win the overall standings by 1 second.


Stage winner and 2nd overall, Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal Quick-Step): “Today was incredibly hard! The heat didn’t make things easier, but I had a good feeling and kept pushing and pushing on those steep roads. Jan Hirt, who won here in 2022, told me to wait as long as possible and go full gas on the finishing stretch, and I followed his advice, making my move at the right moment. It was nice to do it in front of my family, their presence gave me extra motivation. The fact that I wrote history for Soudal Quick-Step with this 900th win leaves me speechless. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about this, about being in the spotlight of such an important moment in the history of the team. Just riding for the Wolfpack is something special to me, and now, to hit this milestone…it’s just amazing!”

Final overall winner and 2nd on the stage, Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar): “It was super hard. I mean: the day was relatively easy, but the heat was the main issue for me. I might have looked confident this morning, but i was actually pretty nervous. This kind of climb really tests my limits. 6k at 12% – it’s hard for me. I rode always making sure I stayed efficient on the climb. I did everything as efficient as possible to take this one. You have no idea how special this is for me. Super, super special. Two days ago, I got my first professional win, and now, to get the GC like this, with the list of previous winners in Oman, is crazy. We did it!”

3rd on the stage and overall, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën): “I am happy with this podium. It shows that I continue to progress and reach new levels each season. I thank my teammates for their support throughout the week. They put me in the best possible positions. This was again the case during this fifth stage where they did a great job. I’m glad I managed to finish it off. I knew that this last stage was the one that would suit me best. I played all my cards in the last kilometre. I have no regrets. It also confirms that all the work done this winter is paying off. I invested a lot, especially during the training camp in Sierra Nevada, to achieve these types of results. This gives me confidence for the future, and especially for the UAE Tour next week.”

5th on the stage and 6th overall, Maxim Van Gils (Lotto Dstny): “Today was the toughest stage of them all and I was a bit scared to be honest, as such steep long climbs are usually not really my cup of tea. The pace was incredibly high from the bottom of the climb and when Taaramäe accelerated, I had no immediate reaction. I focused on my own pace and could keep the front group in sight. Just before the finish, Ulissi came back and I had to give up one place on GC, but with four top ten spots at the Tour of Oman and a sixth overall, I can’t really complain. It only is a pity that I couldn’t put the cherry on the cake this week. I came close with a second place but these consistent performances show that I’m in good shape. I took some more steps after the Lotto Dstny team camp to perform well here and I’m glad the work paid off. I also need to thank my teammates for this week, they always protected me really well and brought me in perfect position on the climbs. I still rank the things what I showed here a bit higher than winning the Saudi Tour. Tour of Oman is a higher level of racing and most importantly: I feel that I made some good progression in my climbing abilities, something I sometimes struggled with in the past seasons. The way of racing – with a relatively calm start and an explosive final – really suits me and that is why I perform well in these races, I think. Of course, I want to continue this way, starting with the two French one-day races Faun-Ardèche and Drôme Classic. Soon after, there’s the biggest goal so far: Strade Bianche. I really look forward to racing the Tuscan gravel roads.”

Tour of Oman Stage 5 Result:
1. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step in 3:53:51
2. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar
3. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:12
4. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:22
5. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:37
6. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
7. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) Arkéa Samsic at 0:58
8. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
9. Carlos Verona (Spa) Movistar at 1:00
10. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:12

Tour of Oman Final Overall Result:
1. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar in 19:56:21
2. Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:01
3. Geoffrey Bouchard (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:28
4. Rein Taaramäe (Est) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:46
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates at 0:48
6. Maxim Van Gils (Bel) Lotto Dstny at 0:58
7. Jesús Herrada (Spa) Cofidis at 1:20
8. Cristián Rodríguez (Spa) Arkéa Samsic at 1:22
9. Cian Uijtdebroeks (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe at 1:36
10. Carlos Verona (Spa) Movistar at 1:37.

Oman’23 stage 5:


Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2023
Tadej Pogačar has had an excellent start to the 2023 season. The UAE Team Emirates rider won Stage 1 of the Ruta del Sol by going solo on the final climb for the win in Santiago de la Espada and the overall lead. Pogačar has won 2 out of 2 of his first two races of the season.

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Four men broke away after 10 kilometres. Flanders Baloise rider Aaron Van Poucke had Alex Martin (EOLO-Kometa), birthday boy Gotzon Martin (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Clément Alleno (Burgos-BH) with him. Their lead never grew more than 3 minutes as UAE Team Emirates and Movistar set the pace in the peloton.

Those teams were looking after their leaders; Tadej Pogačar, Enric Mas and Ruben Guerreiro for the difficult final to Santiago de la Espada. The last 50 kilometres included the Garganta de Hornos (16.5km at 4.5%) and the Alto de Despiernacaballos (10.5km at 5.8%). From the top of the last climb it was still 7 kilometres to the finish line. Van Poucke crashed, but was able to rejoin the race. With a 2 minute lead, the break started the Garganta de Hornos. The first attack from the peloton came from INEOS rider Omar Fraile. He went solo in search of Martin and Martin, who were still in the lead. At 50 kilometres out he joined the two out front. For a long time the lead was about 45 seconds, but before the Alto de Despiernacaballos, the break was caught by the peloton. On the 10 kilometre climb, UAE Team Emirates set the pace, causing a split in the peloton.

Carlos Rodriguez had gear problems, but was able to join the favourites. In addition to Pogačar’s UAE train, Enric Mas, Tao Geoghegan Hart, Mikel Landa, Damiano Caruso, Jack Haig, Santiago Buitrago, Andreas Kron and Jefferson Cepeda were also present at the front. An acceleration from Tim Wellens caused another break. It turned out to be the lead-out for Tadej Pogacar’s attack. Five kilometres from the top, the Slovenian made his move, only Buitrago could follow. That didn’t last very long, because Pogačar accelerated again and dropped the Colombian. Behind him, Buitrago, Rodriguez, Landa and Mas got together, but the top man of UAE Team Emirates had already disappeared up the road.

Mas had a mechanical problem a kilometre from the summit and had to wait for the Movistar team car and had to drop back to the next chasing group. Pogačar crossed the top of the final climb with a 45 second lead, before the 7 kilometre descent. Pogačar finished without any problems in Santiago de la Espada on the last hundreds of metres of uphill. He crossed the finish line with a big lead and (obviously) received the first leader’s jersey of the Ruta del Sol. Landa, Rodriguez and Buitrago crossed the line just under 40 seconds later. The group including Mas, Hart and Sivakov had lost more than a minute and a half.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “Today once again the team work was great, we did a nice job and our guys led me to the last climb at a very very high pace which I really liked. The climb was steep, I saw the moment to attack and I enjoyed the path to the finish. I am a little surprised of my form, I knew that I was good but I could not expect to have already won two races. For what concerns the leadership in the general classification of the Vuelta Andalucia, it’s gonna be really difficult to defend the leaders jersey until the end because there will be some tricky stages, but I will be able to rely on such a strong team that makes me confident I can reach this goal.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious): “It’s been a difficult day – quite hard, and not easy to find the best feelings, but I think it was a good day for the team. It was difficult to follow Pogačar, but Santi and I arrived in the second group, so it’s still an open race for the podium.”

8th on the stage and overall, Enric Mas (Movistar): “Those things happen. Mechanical failure, that’s part of the sport. Still I can be a little satisfied, because I felt pretty good. We knew that Tadej was okay. He went off on his own and we have to congratulate him for that.”

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol Stage 1 Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 5:04:19
2. Mikel Landa (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 0:38
3. Carlos Rodríguez (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain Victorious
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:38
6. Pavel Sivakov (Fra) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:39
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
8. Enric Mas (Spa) Movistar
9. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
10. Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda (Ecu) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:41.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol Overall After Stage 1:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 5:04:19
2. Mikel Landa (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 0:38
3. Carlos Rodríguez (Spa) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Santiago Buitrago (Col) Bahrain Victorious
5. Tao Geoghegan Hart (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:38
6. Pavel Sivakov (Fra) INEOS Grenadiers at 1:39
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
8. Enric Mas (Spa) Movistar
9. Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
10. Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda (Ecu) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 1:41.

Andalucia’23 stage 1:


Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2023
Alexander Kristoff won the bunch sprint at the end of the First Stage of the Volta ao Algarve. After 200 kilometres, the Norwegian of team Uno-X was the fastest in Lagos. Kristoff also pulled on the first leader’s jersey of the Portuguese race. Jordi Meeus was second and Søren Waerenskjold third. Top sprinter Fabio Jakobsen finished fourth.

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The leading group of the day consisted of five riders: Danish champion Alexander Kamp (Tudor), Aleksandr Grigorev (Efapel), António Ferreira (Kelly-Simoldes-UDO), Rafel Lourenço (Tavira) and Sergio García (Glassdrive Q8 Anicolor).

The five soon had a lead of more than 2 minutes. In the peloton it was Soudal Quick-Step that was in control, because the Belgian team hoped to for a bunch sprint for leader Fabio Jakobsen. The difference fluctuated around 2:30 for a long time. Due to the headwind, the average speed was not high. With a lead of just under 2 minutes, the front riders started Nave, the last climb of the day at more than 60 kilometres from the finish. The difference remained intact and all sprinters survived the climb, so they could prepare for a bunch sprint in Lagos. In the aftermath of the Nave climb, the leading group was further thinned. Ferreira took the KOM jersey and dropped back, while Lourenço and García were also dropped. That meant that Kamp and Grigorev remained in the lead the longest. Soudal Quick-Step were helped in the chase by BORA-hansgrohe, who had their sprinter Jordi Meeus.

At 20 kilometres from the finish there was another jump, but nobody was in trouble. There were problems 8 kilometres from the finish, due to the road narrowing a crash took place at the back of the peloton. At the front it was crowded in the last 5 kilometres, because teams such as Trek-Segafredo and Uno-X also wanted to put their sprinter in a good position. The final was well known to Fabio Jakobsen because in 2019, 2020 and 2022 the Dutchman won in Lagos on this finish line. In the final kilometre the European champion was not well placed, but Michael Mørkøv brought him forward. A good sprint was not possible for Jakobsen, who had to watch Alexander Kristoff take the victory ahead of Jordi Meeus. Kristoff was launched perfectly by his Uno-X teammate, Søren Waerenskjold, who himself managed to finish third. BORA-hansgrohe leader Meeus finished between the two Norwegians. Jakobsen was not involved and was fourth. Tom Pidcock was surprisingly fifth, but was later demoted for pushing. Timo Kielich and Edward Theuns brought Belgium into the top 10.

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Stage winner and overall leader, Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X): “This is great. I’ve done this sprint in Lagos twice before, but this time it went really well. It is also the first time that I won in Portugal. It is a great relief for me to win early. That takes some pressure off. Søren (Wærenskjold) did a very good lead out. He was third himself. That shows that he is super strong. I had to take advantage of that, because he led me out perfectly. It was already going well in Almería (Kristoff 4th) and we wanted to build on that. But now we’re doing even better. The feeling of winning here is indescribable. I haven’t looked very closely at the profile yet (stage 3), but that finish could suit me well. It’s also slightly up, in my opinion. Maybe that suits Søren just a bit better, and he has shown that he is also very fast.”

2nd on the stage and overall, Jordi Meeus (BORA-hansgrohe): “The team did a great job, I’m sorry I couldn’t finish it. I was close, but not close enough, but luckily there are more stages to come. The final went as I expected. I had to make a big effort on the hill two kilometres before the line. The team then dropped me off perfectly, after which I had to find the right wheel. It was a chaotic sprint, that was due to the headwind that came diagonally from the front. I was still looking for space in the last kilometre and I found it yes, but a little too late. My legs were good, but I came second.”

3rd on the stage and overall, Søren Wærenskjold (Uno-X): “Alexander was already well placed in the final kilometre, so I looked him up and did my best. For a moment I feared that we would be blocked, but found a gap and was able to catch some slipstream. That went perfectly. When I saw that I could ride top 3, I sprinted to the finish. Only my saddle broke off just after the line. Luckily that didn’t happen sooner.”

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Uno-X in 4:49:25
2. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe
3. Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X
4. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Soudal Quick-Step
5. Pavel Bittner (CZ) DSM
6. Paul Penhoët (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) Trek-Segafredo
8. Timo Kielich (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck
9. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10. Tim van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo-Visma.

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Uno-X in 4:49:15
2. Jordi Meeus (Bel) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:04
3. Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X at 0:06
4. Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:10
5. Pavel Bittner (CZ) DSM
6. Paul Penhoët (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) Trek-Segafredo
8. Timo Kielich (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck
9. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10. Tim van Dijke (Ned) Jumbo-Visma.

Algarve’23 stage 1:


Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior 2023
Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar took the second edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior by storm. Cycling’s marquee star triumphed with a long-range attack, taking off with more than 40 kilometres to go and finally reaching the finish line in Baeza with daylight between him and his chasers. As a testament to UAE Team Emirates’ excellent teamwork, Tim Wellens stood in the podium along with Pogačar and INEOS Grenadiers’ Ben Turner.


112 riders took the start on the second edition of the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior, held over 178 kilometres between two cities considered as World Heritage by UNESCO, Úbeda and Baeza. It didn’t took long for the fight to begin, as the lumpy terrain over Sierra Mágina was an ideal scenario for the attackers. After 20 kilometres, five cyclists managed to go clear: Sergio Samitier (Movistar), Matthijs Paasschens (Lotto-Dstny), Camilo Ardila (Burgos BH), Xabier Mikel Azparren (Euskaltel-Euskadi) and Mathis Le Berre (Arkéa-Samsic).

At kilometre 38, the 5-man group held a 3’50” gap on a bunch led by UAE Team Emirates. The first two Caminos de Olivos, Marimingo (km 68,8; 5,4 km) and Valdeolivas (km 82,7; 5,4 km), decimated the peloton down to 50 riders as Ardila was dropped from the front group. In the third gravel sector, Ubbadat (km 103,7; 11,1 km), Samitier and Azparren stepped up the pace and left Paasschens and Le Berre behind.

Samitier dropped Azparren and went solo with 52 kilometres to go. Right in the Antonio Machado (km 133,1; 3,5 km) gravel sector, named after a celebrated poet whose life path was deeply intertwined with the city of Baeza, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) took off from the bunch and caught Samitier. The newly-formed duo cooperated as they approached the Cruz de Jaboneros (km 139; 4,2 km) sector, closely followed by a chase group with Mads Würtz Schmidt (Israel-PremierTech), Ben Turner, Ben Tulett (INEOS Grenadiers), Andreas Kron (Lotto Dstny), Lorenzo Rota (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and a couple of Pogačar’s teammates: Marc Hirschi and Tim Wellens. At the end of the aforementioned sector, with 36 kilometres left to race, Pogačar dropped Samitier for good.

This wouldn’t be cycling if victory hadn’t come with at least a scare for Pogačar, who punctured with 8 kilometres to go. He had a big margin on his pursuers, though, and made it to Baeza with enough time to enjoy this victory on his first racing day of the current season. Behind the Slovenian, Turner and Wellens went clear from the rest of the chasers to finish second and third. Pogačar put an emotional note to his performance by dedicating his winner’s jersey to Estela Domínguez, promising Spanish rider who passed away as recently as last week.


Race winner, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “So far, so good! Starting the season like this, I couldn’t be happier. The team worked so well today. It was a fairytale finish for us, with the 3rd and 4th place as well as the victory – it’s perfect! The plan was to attack where I did. We decided it after yesterday’s recon. The teamwork was perfect, and our teammates put us in a perfect position to pull it off. Tim Wellens did a great job coming into the gravel section, and then Marc Hirschi finished setting it up. Afterwards, it was just about using all the power I had on my legs during the last 2 kilometres of the climb. Everything went down to plan, as I managed to stay alone all the way to the finish. It makes for a perfect start of the season. My flat in the final kilometres? It was a scary moment! I was lucky to have a big lead on the chasers, so it didn’t turn out as stressful as it could have been.”

Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior Result:
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates in 4:36:41
2. Ben Turner (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:49
3. Tim Wellens (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
4. Marc Hirschi (Sui) UAE Team Emirates at 1:17
5. Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Dstny
6. Ben Tulett (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
7. Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
8. Georg Zimmermann (Ger) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 1:31
9. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar.

Jaén Paraiso’23:


Ecuadorian National Road Championship 2023
In his debut race in pink, Richard Carapaz won the Ecuadorian road race national championship, taking his first elite road title.

Richard’s win caps off a successful weekend of racing for EF Education-EasyPost at the national championships in Tulcán, Ecuador. Racing alongside him in the road race were teammates Alexander Cepeda and Jonathan Caicedo. Both Alexander and Jonathan raced the time trial national championships just the day before, with Jonathan earning his third national title in the race against the clock and Alexander taking third place.

“The tactic was clear from the beginning,” Jonathan said. “Get rid of as many riders as possible, and that made the perfect set up for Richard.”

“The work that Jonathan and Alexander put in was really important,” Richard said. “We met in the morning just before the start. We met and we had this objective. They knew my intention was to win and on top of this we talked about having two of us on the podium and how great that would be. Yesterday they achieved this by winning gold and bronze.”

Composed of ten laps around the northern city of Tulcán, today’s road race totalled just shy of 180 kilometres of racing. The first two laps averaged 43 kilometres per hour, showing just how competitive this race would be.

Twenty minutes into the day, a break had formed with all three of our riders — Richard, Alexander, and Jonathan. Just one day after winning the time trial national championship, Jonathan drove the early attack which allowed the break to open a gap on the chasers.

“After yesterday, I got a bit punished by the big efforts in the front group,” Jonathan said. “The tactic was for Richard to win so we had a big job. From the beginning on, the race was pretty fast and very hard, and my power didn’t let me go with the other three riders. I retired from the race after that, as I saw that my job for the day was done, which was to give Richard the best option for the win.”

After just one hour of racing, the break had set such a punishing pace that the peloton behind was in tatters. As the laps ticked by, the break shed riders. By the seventh lap, just three riders remained, including Richard and Alexander. While their advantage grew and shrank over the ensuing hours, the leaders were able to stay away with Alexander spending significant time in the wind to protect Richard.

On the tenth and final lap, with just a few kilometres remaining, Richard sensed it was time to attack. Lifting the already punishing pace, Richard accelerated, riding away from his two breakaway companions and quickly opening a gap. A win for the Olympic champion was not guaranteed, however, as a rider from the break put in an effort to chase down Richard in the finishing straight. In an effort worthy of a champion, Richard held off his competitor and raised a fist in celebration only after he had crossed the line first and earned the title of Ecuadorian national champion.

“Today they did a spectacular job. Caicedo handled the first part of the race really well and that means so much to me. Later with Alexander in the final break, he did great work. This really was a win by the whole team,” Richard said.

Reflecting on the off season, Richard sees today’s performance as a step in the right direction for the year.

“Today’s win gives us a sign that we’re working well and that we’re doing the hard work,” he said. “This was one of the harder off seasons that I’ve had because there were a lot of complications. There was the operation on my tonsils, so I started everything later. Honestly, I’m really happy because now we can enjoy all that we’ve done. Getting to wear such a beautiful jersey in front of the world is really special.”

Congratulations to Richard, Jonathan, and Alexander for an incredible weekend of racing in Ecuador. We are so proud of your hard work.

2023 Ecuador road champ – Richard Carapaz:


Mathieu van der Poel to Ride E3 Saxo Classic in the Run-Up to De Ronde and Roubaix
Mathieu van der Poel will make an appearance in the E3 Saxo Classic this spring. The Alpecin-Deceuninck leader will ride the E3 in his run-up to the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Van der Poel has also choosen Strade Bianche as his first race in the spring. He will then prepare for the rest of the classics in Tirreno-Adriatico, starting with Milan-San Remo. A week later he will be at the start of the E3 Saxo Classic, where he will meet Wout van Aert.

The E3 Harelbeke is the only race that Van der Poel will contest between Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders. A week after the Flemish race, which he has won twice, Van der Poel will take a shot at winning Paris-Roubaix.

“The hunger to win Roubaix is no greater than to win Flanders,” Van der Poel told WielerFlits in January. “I would be just as happy with Flanders as with Roubaix, of course. I haven’t won Roubaix yet, so it would be nice to add it. It’s not like I rank it higher than the Ronde.”

Mathieu van der Poel Spring Race Schedule:
Strade Bianche (Ita) March 4
Tirreno-Adriatico (Ita) March 6-12
Milan-San Remo (Ita) March 18
E3 Saxo Classic (Bel) March 24
Tour of Flanders (Bel) April 2
Paris-Roubaix (Fra) April 9.

Van der Poel thinking of Roubaix:
roubaix22 m


Tadej Pogačar to Ride Paris-Nice Instead of Tirreno-Adriatico
Tadej Pogačar takes a slightly different approach to this season. The two-time Tour winner preferred a Spanish start to the 2023 season, usually rides the UAE Tour. Now he will miss Tirreno-Adriatico in favour of Paris-Nice, according to the French sports newspaper L’Équipe.

The 24-year-old leader of UAE Team Emirates has never been at the start of the ‘Race to the Sun’, but ridden in Tirreno-Adriatico twice and with success, because the Slovenian took the overall victory in 2021 and 2022. If L’Équipe correct, the organisers of Paris-Nice have already received the Slovenian entry.

The 81st edition of Paris-Nice starts on Sunday 5 March, one day after the Strade Bianche in Italy. The Strade Bianche-Paris-Nice combination is, from a practical point of view, far from ideal, but Pogačar would still like to combine both races. He was the strongest in the Strade Bianche last year and also wants to defend his title in the Tuscany region this year.

Pogačar started his 2023 season on Monday in the Jaén Paraiso Interior. This race is a real gravel race of 179 kilometres with 2,300 metres of climbing and eight gravel strips totalling 47 kilometres of rough roads and Pogačar won.

Alejandro Valverde and Tadej Pogačar at the start of Jaén Paraiso Interior 2023:
jaen 23


trek segafredo
Elisa Balsamo Extends with Trek-Segafredo for Two Years
Elisa Balsamo has extended her contract with Trek-Segafredo for two years more. The 24 year-old Italian still had a contract until the end of 2024, but is now signed until the end of 2026. The former World champion has been riding for the American team since 2022.

Balsamo started her career at the Italian Valcar-Travel & Service and quickly grew into one of the fastest women on two wheels. In 2021 she took her biggest victory when she sprinted to the World title in Leuven. Trek-Segafredo welcomed a World champion, and Balsamo took many successes in her first year with the team.

Last year she won two major classics; the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and Gent-Wevelgem and was also Italian road champion. She was also very successful in stage races. In the Giro d’Italia Donne she had two stage victories and in the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta she was the fastest in the final stage in Madrid. She was also successful in the Exterioo Classic Bruges-De Panne and the Tours of Valencia and Switzerland.

Balsamo still has plenty to add to her palmarès, she said in a Trek-Segafredo press release. “The bond that has developed between me and this team is amazing and almost unique. We have a strong relationship. 2022 was an unforgettable year for me, but there are more stories that can be written. I still have many goals and the team has the same ambitions. I especially want to win classics, that’s where the challenge lies.”

Luca Guercilena, Trek-Segafredo team manager, is happy with Balsamo as the figurehead of the women’s team. “In addition to her results, Elisa has been able to add a lot to the team: her enthusiasm, charisma, determination, team spirit and proactive approach. When we contracted her, she was still a promising rider as a brand new world champion. We are a year further and she is now a real world topper. And the best is yet to come.”

Balsamo will start the new season this week in the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana (February 16-19). Then she will compete in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Gent-Wevelgem, the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race. She will also be at the start of the Tour de France.

Elisa Balsamo with Trek-Segafredo till 2026:
giro donne22 st4


Marianne Vos to Have Operation
Marianne Vos will be treated next Thursday for a narrowing of the pelvic artery, quite a common problem among cyclists. The 35 year-old Jumbo-Visma rider will have to rest for ten days after the procedure, she said via Instagram.

Last month it became clear that Vos is suffering from a narrowing of the pelvic artery. The multi-winner had to miss the cyclo-cross World championships in Hoogerheide, and so was unable to defend her title in her own country. Despite a victory in the X2O cross in Kortrijk, Vos’ winter was mainly one of disappointments. The eight-time World cross champion couldn’t get to her usual level.

In 2020, Vos also had an injury to her pelvic artery. As a result, less blood can flow to the legs. After the medical procedure, a rest period of ten days follows, after which she can build up again towards the first road races. “I’m already looking forward to getting back on my bike in preparation for the first races,” said Vos.

Before she announced that she was suffering from an injury to the pelvic artery, Vos had already signed a new contract with Jumbo-Visma until the end of 2025. Due to the contract extension, she will race for Jumbo-Visma until she is 38. In 2021 she made her debut for the women’s team. Since then she has won the cyclo-cross World championships, Gent-Wevelgem, two stages in the Giro d’Italia Donne and two stages and the green jersey in the Tour de France Femmes.

Operation for Vos:
giro donne 22 st5


Marta Cavalli Struggling with Peloton Anxiety Since Tour de France Crash
Marta Cavalli is still suffering from her fall in the second stage of the Tour de France Femmes 2022. Not physically, but mentally. In the Queen stage of the UAE Tour Women, she lost contact with the other favourites due to fear in the peloton, she said in conversation with L’Équipe.

“I didn’t feel comfortable on my bike when the wind started to blow from the side,” said Cavalli, who ended up in a chasing echelon and started the final climb to Jebel Hafeet down on the other top riders. Despite recording one of the fastest times on this slope according to L’Équipe, she only crossed the line in 23rd place. She lost more than four minutes to winner Elisa Longo Borghini. “It was a good lesson. I now know what I need to work on to get better.”

Cédric Barre, a sports director with FDJ-SUEZ, knows the cause of Cavalli’s fear. “Marta has had a good climb, but she is still hampered by the fall in last year’s Tour. She feels anxious in a peloton.” Cavalli crashed in July 2022 during the second stage of the Tour de France Femmes. The Italian seemed to escape the worst at first, but she was then hit in the back by Nicole Frain. She sustained a skull injury.

At the end of 2022, the winner of the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Wallonne made her comeback. She managed sixth place in the Giro dell’Emilia, but all her problems have not yet been solved. “Marta has not yet recovered,” said Stephen Delcourt, the FDJ-SUEZ team manager. “We will take the time to help her, we will take care of her.”

Problems for Marta Cavalli:
fleche 22w


Axel Merckx and Chloé Dygert In a Relationship
On St Valentines day, the relationship between Axel Merckx (50) and Chloé Dygert (26) became public knowledge. Dygert shared a photo on social media of the couple.

Axel Merckx, the son of legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx was previously married to former Canadian triathlete Jodi Cross for more than twenty years. Dygert was previously married to ex-pro Logan Owen, who rode for EF Education-Nippo and Hagens Berman Axeon, the Merckx team.

Axel Merckx has been the man behind the American talent team Hagens Berman Axeon for years, but can also look back on a good professional career. Dygert is still a professional cyclist, but has experienced a lot of physical challenges in recent years. The multiple World champion is still under contract with WorldTour team Canyon//SRAM Racing, but has only raced a few times after her crash at the 2020 World time trial championships.

A happy Merckx and Dygert:
merckx dygert


Stijn Steels to Join Eurosport Commentary Team
Stijn Steels hung up his bike last winter, but the former rider of the Quick-Step team is still involved in the sport. On Monday, the 33-year-old Belgian made his debut as a cycling commentator with Eurosport. As an analyst he reported on the Jaén Paraíso Interior won by Tadej Pogačar.

People on social media were pleased with Steels’ comments. From the Dutch angle there were some comments about the intelligibility of the former rider, who speaks relatively quickly and with an accent, but in general the listeners were very positive. It is not yet known when Steels will return to the commentary booth.

Stijn Steels to be a race analyst:
Stijn Steels


soudal quick-step
Soudal Quick-Step Celebrate 900 Victories
February 15 2023 becomes a date indelibly etched into the history of the team
15-Feb-2023: Once again, and in spectacular fashion, history was made by Soudal Quick-Step when Mauri Vansevenant crossed the finish line atop Oman’s Green Mountain, scoring our 900th win and making sure that his name will forever be linked to that of The Wolfpack.

A total of 174 riders have been part of the squad since our inception in 2003, a year when we had to wait just a couple of weeks to taste our first ever success, brought by Servais Knaven on stage 5 of the Tour of Qatar. Of the many riders who sported the team’s jersey in the past two decades, 103 took at least one victory, in 34 different countries – from Argentina to the United States, and from Norway to Australia, via China – across five continents.

But the team didn’t just win with panache, it also created ever-lasting memories, and some of the sports’ most memorable moments of the last twenty years have been linked to our riders and their fantastic exploits.

Mauri Vansevenant’s ride on the final stage of the Tour of Oman is another moment our fans won’t forget anytime soon, and the 23-year-old couldn’t hide his satisfaction after delivering this win: “It’s unbelievable, that I can tell you! 900 victories in 20 years of cycling, this shows the strength and the mentality of this fantastic squad. I’m very happy and proud I could do this for the squad. Now we start our journey to the 1000th win!”

Soudal Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere was another happy man Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared to travel to Rwanda, in order to be present for Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team’s first outing of the year.

“To see Soudal Quick-Step reach 900 wins makes me very proud – it is an unbelievable number! When we started this team all those years ago, we were ambitious and we wanted to be one of the best squads in the world, but I don’t think anyone could envisage us clocking up 900 victories. It shows the dedication of the team’s management, staff and riders, sponsors and partners, and the public that has supported us over the years. I remember our first win with Servais in Qatar, but it’s hard to pick out a favourite victory, as every one of them is special in their own way, and they are a testament to the collectiveness that makes this team really unique. Here is to many more victories to come!”

quick-step 900


Volta Ciclista Comunitat Valenciana Fèmines – FEB 16 – 19

Kelvin Dekker – Team DSM coach: “Valenciana is always a hard course and will be the first race of the season for all of our riders there. We have Megan at the start for us as our fast finisher who will look to the sprint on the opening stage as well as Juliette who will aim for a GC, with the third stage as the most important one for the overall. We want to start on a high level as a team and take every opportunity we create during the race. Good teamwork will be the base which will hopefully lead to success in this four-day stage race.”

Francesca Barale (ITA)
Eleonora Ciabocco (ITA)
Léa Curinier (FRA)
Megan Jastrab (USA)
Juliette Labous (FRA)
Becky Storrie (GBR)
Elise Uijen (NED).

Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var – FEB 17 – 19

Christian Guiberteau – Team DSM coach: “The Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var is characterised by a very demanding profile, as the route is always up and down during the three days. The team’s goal will be to be vigilant and aggressive from the start of the race, as we look to go for a result in a race where good team spirit will be the key to success. We will look after Romain as our protected rider to go for stage results and see day by day, where our chances for the GC are.”

Romain Bardet (FRA)
Marco Brenner (GER)
Leon Heinschke (GER)
Lorenzo Milesi (ITA)
Max Poole (GBR)
Florian Stork (GER)
Henri Vandenabeele (BEL).

UAE Tour – FEB 20 – 26

Matt Winston – Team DSM coach: “At UAE Tour we will continue to build on the good start of the season that we had in San Juan and Australia with our sprint train. We will look for the sprints there with Sam as our finisher but we will also keep a good eye on the two GC guys that have prepared in a nice way at a recent altitude camp. We know there are two crucial stages for the GC and will focus on Andreas there in the finale. We are also looking forward to the TTT, since it’s a discipline we don’t race so often, but we go there with a strong team that also has some team pursuit experience, so that should be a fun day too.”

Tobias Lund Andresen (DEN)
Alex Edmondson (AUS)
Andreas Leknessund (NOR)
Frederik Rodenberg Madsen (DEN)
Niklas Märkl (GER)
Harm Vanhoucke (BEL)
Sam Welsford (AUS).

Welsford to the UAE Tour:
san juan23


ag2r cirtoen
Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var (February 17-19)

Aurélien Paret-Peintre: “I can’t wait to get back to racing this season after a long training period. Finally, this is the year where I am starting the latest since the beginning of my career. But I’m really happy with all the work we did in Sierra Nevada. We worked very well with the team. I feel in good shape, even if it may take a little time to pick up the rhythm of competitions. The Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var is a good event for this. Above all, the last stage on Sunday with the ascent of the Col de Vence will be a real test before the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche and Paris-Nice, my first big objective of the season. I can’t wait to get back in with the team and race together so we can get the best possible result. I am very motivated!”

Mikael Cherel will start his 16th season in the professional peloton during the Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var. The 36-year-old rider has been part of the AG2R CITROËN TEAM since 2011.



Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team Turns Up the Volume for Alpes Maritimes et du Var
The 3-day stage race Tour du Alpes Maritimes et du Var will mark the racing debut on french soil for Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team and we’re lining up with a strong and motivated seven-rider roster.

The UCI 2.1 race kicks off on Friday with a 197 km stage from Saint-Raphaël to Ramatuelle that should favour the fast men in the peloton despite a lumpy finale. Stage 2 will be a lumpy affair and, on paper, it could be an opportunity for the breakaway to take the spoils. The peloton will depart from Mandelieu and face three categorised climbs over the course of 179 km before a downhill approach to the finish line in Antibes Azur Aréna. Depending on how the race unfolds we could also see a select bunch sprint finale.

The Queen stage will take place on Sunday and will likely decide the general classification and overall winner. With just 139km, the short but very hilly stage from Villefranche-sur-Mer to Vence, will pack four categorised climbs, including two Cat-1 ascents in the first half of the parcours. The GC favourites will fight it out for both the stage victory and overall.

Italian Matteo Moschetti, riding high after his maiden win for Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team at Clásica de Almería, will be the teams elected sprinter and will be the protected rider coming into the first stage. He will enjoy the support of experienced riders such as Swedish powerhouse Tobias Ludvigsson, Polish all-rounder Kamil Malecki and Belgian classics man Tom Devriendt. Ethiopian neo-pro Negasi Haylu Abreha will make his debut for the team and will be in the support role for our team leaders, particularly Italian Alessandro Fedeli, who will aim for a good GC standing. Australian Cyrus Monk completes our seven-rider team.

“Matteo Moschetti will be our card for the first stage should it come down to a bunch sprint. The other stages are theoretically a bit too hard but they will provide him with a good preparation ahead of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The next two stages are hillier with the second one looking like a good option for the breakaway, depending on which teams would like to control the race for the GC. So, we foresee an attacking stage, a race of attrition, and we’re prepared to animate it and race competitively. Alessandro Fedeli will be our rider for the General Classification so we need to always be at the front in the final of both the second and third stages. We have good riders for the breakaways and also a good team to support our aim to secure a good standing on the overall,” said Aart Vierhouten, Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team Sports Director

Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var – Lineup:
Negasi Haylu Abreha (ETH)
Tom Devriendt (BEL)
Alessandro Fedeli (ITA)
Tobias Ludvigsson (SWE)
Kamil Malecki (POL)
Cyrus Monk (AUS)
Matteo Moschetti (ITA).



Giro Donne and Baby Giro Will be Organised by RCS Sport
RCS Sport, the organiser of the Giro d’Italia, and other races, will also now organise the Giro d’Italia Internazionale U23 and the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Donne. The news was announced by the Italian Cycling Federation. In recent years, the company ExtraGiro has been responsible for those events.

The U23 version of the Tour of Italy will be organised by RCS Sport from 2023, the Giro Donne will follow a year later. The contract with both races runs through 2027. Further details of the commitment will be explained at a press conference at a later date.

Cordiano Dagnoni, the president of the Italian cycling federation, is already very satisfied with the agreement. “We are very pleased to have assigned the organisation to a company with proven organisational skills,” he said in a press release. “The major events, such as the Giro U23 and Giro Donne, are of fundamental importance not only from a sporting point of view, but also for the local authorities involved who benefit economically and in terms of publicity from these races.”

The Baby Giro was won by Leo Hayter last year, the Giro Donne was won by Annemiek van Vleuten.

Giro winner Van Vleuten:
giro donne 22 st7


2023 Amstel Gold Race Wildcards
The organisers of the Amstel Gold Race has handed out seven wildcards for the 57th edition of the Classic. In addition to the 18 WorldTeams, the ProTeams Isreal-Premier Tech, Lotto Dstny, TotalEnergies, Q36.5 Pro Cycling, Flanders-Baloise, Tudor Pro Cycling and Uno-X will also line-up at the start of the Dutch classic.

The 18 UCI WorldTeams automatically entitled to start:
AG2R Citroen
Astana Qazaqstan
Bahrain Victorious
EF Education EasyPost
INEOS Grenadiers
Jayco AlUla
Jumbo Visma
Soudal Quick Step
Team DSM
UAE Emirates.

Plus ProTeam:
Isreal-Premier Tech
Lotto Dstny, TotalEnergies
Q36.5 Pro Cycling
Tudor Pro Cycling

Benoit Cosnefroy and Michal Kwiatkowski at the finish of Amstel Gold Race 2022:


Low Flying Helicopter Causes Problems at the Tour of Oman
It was a bit of a shock for several riders in the last metres of the third stage of the Tour of Oman. Just before the line, several fences suddenly blew on the course, delaying some riders. This was due to a helicopter flying too low

The third stage of the Tour of Oman ended on top of Jabal Haat, a climb of just under five kilometres at over 8%. An uphill sprint went to Matteo Jorgenson. The American of the Movistar team crossed the finish line first

The first fifteen riders were able to finish without any problems, but behind them the riders were held up for a while. Due to a helicopter flying too low, several barriers suddenly flew onto the course. Luckily everyone stayed upright.

Matteo Jorgensen won Oman stage 3:
oman23 st3


Arnaud De Lie: “I would like to win a big race”
He was the big surprise of the 2022 season. 9 victories in his debut season with the pros: talking about an entrance. But despite Arnaud De Lie’s new status as an internationally known talent, he remains the same cheerful and social young rider that walked into Lotto Dstny’s Development team in 2021.

Arnaud De Lie, what a season 2022 has been. How did you experience all of that?
“It has been a great experience for me. I think having a first season like I did, is just extraordinary. Already in my third race I was able to win. That has given me a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. It was a great experience as an athlete and a person and now I am ready for the season that is about to start.”

What have you learned from 2022?
“A lot of things. Watching a race on tv is not necessarily the same as when you live it in reality. In particular I am thinking of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Gent-Wevelgem now. There I have learned a lot during last season. I have also learned what it really means to live as a professional cyclist. When you are in the U23’s, you have a different idea of what it means to be a professional cyclist. So, the daily life of a cyclist is definitely something I have learned.”

With Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and Gent-Wevelgem you chose two races where you did not get your best results. Why are those the races where you learn the most?
“When you win, it’s fine. But when you lose, you learn. Those two races are very technical races. In Flanders, you need to memorise every corner, cobbled section and hill because something can happen everywhere. Last year, I really experienced this and I learned from it. I have done a recon of both races already, so I am well prepared to take my revenge.”

besseges23 st1

Has 2022 changed something for you?
“Actually, it has changed my life. I was unknown on an international level before.
But when people speak about cycling in the province of Luxembourg, people think of me now. Before, they would have thought about Maxime Monfort. I also get recognised more in daily life now. But these things have not changed me as a person.”

How did you spend your winter?
“Mostly in Belgium, until the first of January. It was good, without falling ill. I just had a small cold, but it is better to have that in the beginning of training. It was really a nice winter, actually. I have learned a lot again, and am already seeing the results.”

What are your ambitions for 2023?
“I do not necessarily want to win more than in 2022, but I do want to win races of a higher level. I am talking about Gent-Wevelgem and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne a lot: two races I am really looking forward to. But of course all races are important, even more now we are in ProTour. But it is not because of that, that we will change the way we ride. We want to win every race.”

There have been some changes during the winter: new trainers, dietician and a collaboration with the University of Ghent. How do you feel about all those changes?
“We are already seeing the difference. We have done some tests with the University of Ghent. I think it is good that we try to look at every detail. I have learned from Victor Campenaerts as well that every detail counts in professional cycling. It is good that we are developing our nutrition department as well. I think we can improve there too. And I have also switched trainers. I am working with Jeroen Dingemans and I am very positive about the collaboration. I think I have had a winter as I should have and I am very happy about my current form.”


Have you climbed the Poggio already?
“No, I have never climbed the Poggio but I am looking forward to it. The recon is already planned. We will prepare Milano-Sanremo in the best way possible.”

Is Milano-Sanremo a real goal for you? Or are you going there to learn?
“I think it can be both. It can be a real goal. But you have to be in your best condition and have a day where no one can stop you to be able to go over the top with the best riders. After that, you have to do a good descent of the Poggio and hope to still be in the first group when you get down. Then, everything is possible. I think we have seen a lot of surprises after a race of 300 kilometres. We will see what happens, but we will try and do everything we can to have a good collaboration with Caleb Ewan. We both have our goals, but we will not put any pressure on each other. We both have the capacities to get a good result and, why not, win.”

Have you ever ridden the Carrefour de l’Arbre?
“Yes I have, when I was a junior. When I was still young. It is a mythical memory for me, because I was really suffering. But it gave me a lot of joy as well and I hope to return there. Normally this will happen and I will do that with a lot of pleasure.”

You have once explained me that watching a race on tv at your place, is a crazy experience. Can you imagine what it will be like when they are watching the final of Milano-Sanremo or Paris-Roubaix with you in it?
“No, because I am never there when they watch a race of me. It should be filmed maybe, because it will really be something. I should ask my sister to make a short video if it’s the case. And I hope it will be the case.”

besseges23 st2

We have talked about Milano-Sanremo, Gent-Wevelgem, Kuurne, Paris-Roubaix. But Paris-Nice will be your first WorldTour stage race. What is your goal for that race?
“I think there are possibilities to win a stage. In a sprint everything is possible. I also think we have reinforced our sprint train. With a good sprint train, you do not even have to be the best sprinter to win. The goal will be to win at least one stage. If that happens, it will be very good for the confidence for the rest of the season.”

No grand tours are planned for this season. Why?
“I think I am already taking a next step by participating in Paris-Nice. I don’t want to skip any steps. A grand tour at 21 years of age is too soon. I think I still have enough time to discover a grand tour in 2024, in two years. This way, it is clear in my head. There are also a lot of nice races during the Vuelta, like GP Quebec and GP Plouay. You can’t do both at the same time.”

When will 2023 have been a success?
“When I am able to prove myself in the finals of WorldTour or ProSeries classics like Gent-Wevelgem or Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Or when I win a nice race, like for example the two I have just mentioned.”


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