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EuroTrash Cobbles Thursday!

The Belgian cobbles week-end starts right here in EuroTrash Thursday. All the info you need for Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne, plus Harelbeke unpopular, Dr. Steven in the Wall Street Journal, the last 2015 cyclo-cross, GP di Lugano, Amstel Gold Race, Etixx take Colombians, Giro GF in NI and Ruud Cremers injured. Large coffee time.

PEZ Toolbox’s Dr. Stephen Cheung in the Wall Street Journal
The scientific consensus concerning hydration during exercise continues to evolve. From the 1996 American College of Sports Medicine position statement to drink as much as possible and to prevent any dehydration at all during exercise, scientific opinion changed to a more moderate 2007 updated position statement to drink moderately (400-800 mL/h) but to avoid dehydration of more than 2% body weight. Since then, further arguments have been made that drinking to thirst is all that’s needed from both a safety and performance view. One of the international leaders in hydration research is our own Toolbox Editor Dr. Stephen Cheung, who has published >80 peer-reviewed articles on hydration along with thermal and hypoxic stress. This past Monday, the Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Bachman profiled one of Stephen’s soon-to-be-published studies, which tested the independent and combined effects of hydration and thirst on time trial performance in the heat.

The study will come out in full this summer, and you can of course expect the Pez-clusive on it then in Toolbox!

You can read the full Wall Street Journal article here.

TOP STORY: UCI Not Happy with Harelbeke
It seems that the UCI are less than happy with the organizers of the E3 Harelbeke, or more precisely their advertising banners. The UCI have asked that their logo be removed from the race banners due to the race making light of the Peter Sagan podium girl grope from a couple of years ago. The banner in question has the representation of a cyclist’s hand about to grope a woman’s bottom and the slogan: “Who will pinch them in Harelbeke?” The organizers have said they will comply as the printing had not been done yet. It is a little sad that a race as good as the E3 Harelbeke will be remembered for a podium grope and not its list of winners over its 57 year history, like: Boonen, Cancellara, Maertens, De Vlaeminck, Van Petergem, Raas and all the others.



header-oostmale15Internationale Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle 2015
Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) closed the season in Oostmalle with a solo victory in the Internationale Sluitingsprijs, he also won the Clay Cross race in Lebbeke the previous day. Van Aert had time to hold his Colnago in the air at the finish after a hard race which could have been ruined by an early crash. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) finished second, out-sprinting young Laurens Sweeck (Corendon-KwadrO).

Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) was the early leader, but by the fourth lap the race leaders had pulled his escape and was about to catch Sweek when Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) latched onto Sweek’s wheel and was joined by Pauwels. World champion Mathieu van de Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) missed the move and finishing out of the top fifteen. Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) was also on a bad day and abandoned on lap eight, bringing an end to his disappointing season.

Lap six; the lead group included: Van Aert, Sweeck, Pauwels, van der Haar, Meeusen and Vincent Baestaens (BKCP-Powerplus). Van Aert went to the front and took a small lead, Sweeck again jumped after him to be followed by Pauwels and van der Haar. Van Aert had a gap which increased to the finish, leaving the others to fight over the podium.

Sweeck again attacked, but again Pauwels was able to pull him back and the pair left the others behind. Sweeck fought to hold off Pauwels in the sprint for second, didn’t have the energy in the last meters. Van der Haar was fourth just 10 seconds later.

Bart Aernouts (Corendon-KwadrO) announced his retirement form cycling earlier this month: “I have a lot to thank the lovely cyclocross sport and am very proud of my own modest performance. I want first of all my family and the people who have always helped me, thank you very much. I’m everywhere received with open arms and was always treated with respect. What will I do after my career, I do not know, I think about everything, this will be clear in a while.”

Internationale Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle Result:
1. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace in 59:48
2. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games at 0:23
3. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Corendon-KwadrO
4. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Giant-Alpecin at 0:33
5. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 0:47
6. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games at 1:06
7. Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus at 1:08
8. Tim Merlier (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
9. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink at 1:14
10. Radomir Simunek (Cze) Corendon-KwadrO at 1:20.

header-hetnieuwsblad15Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2015
The first of the race of the week-end of cobbles is the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. 200 kilometers out and back from Gent taking in eleven climbs and ten sets of Kasseien (pavé). Starts at 11:45 CET and should finish around 16:30 CET with live TV from 13:30. Race report here on PEZ as soon after the finish as possible with more news and video in EuroTrash Monday.

Website: https://www.omloophetnieuwsblad.be


header-hetneuwsblad15Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2015
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne is the second part of the week-end action. As it’s name suggests the race starts and finishes in Kuurne, it does not go into the center of Brussels, but makes it’s way back from Voorde. 196 kilometers with nine climbs. Starts at 12:00 CET and should finish around 16:30 CET with live TV from 14:30. Race report here on PEZ after the finish with results and video in EuroTrash Monday.

Check out Ed Hood’s memories of the ‘Cobbles Week-end’.

Website: https://www.kuurne-brussel-kuurne.be/elite/


header-giantalp15Giant-Alpecin team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Team Giant-Alpecin will line up for its first semi-classic of the season this weekend at the 70th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, in Belgium.

Back in 2014, Zico Waeytens (BEL) finished 15th here and he returns to line-up for his first Belgium classic with Team Giant-Alpecin. Waeytens is joined by Nikias Arndt (GER) who showed strong form in the crosswinds at the Tour of Qatar, together with Bert De Backer (BEL), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED) and Albert Timmer (NED) all of whom raced in the echelons in the desert.

Roy Curvers (NED) will be the team’s captain on the road, and he completes the line-up together with the experience of Koen de Kort (NED).

“After a good period of preparation in training and racing over the last few months we are ready for the start of the classics season in Belgium,” confirmed coach Rudi Kemna (NED). “With the line-up we bring here we have a strong unit and making the most of this overall strength will be important for us on Saturday. We will favor the strength of the collective rather than designating one leader.

“To stay in control we will look towards being in the important breaks so as to not waste energy needlessly ahead of the final. Then late on we hope to use all of our personal strengths together to go for a strong result.”

Nikias Arndt (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Bert De Backer (BEL), Koen de Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Rudi Kemna (NED).

Koen de Kort:
Santos Tour Down-Under  2015 - 1

header-katusha15Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2015
Team Katusha opens its classics campaign
This weekend the Russian WorldTour Team Katusha opens its spring classics season, taking part in two Belgian races. On Saturday, February 28th, Katusha will start in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, while on Sunday, March 1st, the team will do another one-day race: Kuurne – Brussels – Kuurne.

The team’s line-ups:
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Sven Erik Bystrøm, Marco Haller, Vladimir Isaychev, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Rudi Selig, Gatis Smukulis and Alexey Tsatevich.

Jacopo Guarnieri, Marco Haller, Dmitriy Kozonchuk, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Rudi Selig, Gatis Smukulis and Alexey Tsatevich.
Sports directors for both races are Gennady Mikhaylov and Torsten Schmidt.

Marco Haller:
Cycling: Team Katusha 2015

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling for Het Nieuwsblad
Now that the team has finished with the warmth of Spain and the desert of Oman, it is time for IAM Cycling to travel to Belgium for the opening Classics of the year. First on their Flanderian dance card is the Het Nieuwsblad, followed by the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on the next day. For the Swiss team’s sports manager, Rik Verbrugghe, the team is not going to put a lot of pressure on its riders. “What I want to see from everyone is a lot of great teamwork and team spirit,” Verbrugghe confirmed. “We come to these races to take stock of ourselves. The results will not be the priority. Everyone knows this race can be very nervous because it is the opening Classic, so we will not panic. The two groups we had working at the Tour of Oman and the Ruta del Sol will join up. They each worked hard at their parallel races in order to prepare for the Classics, but now it is more important that they come and learn to ride together. Hopefully, greater things will come as we get further into the spring classics.”

Heinrich Haussler will be among those riders going to the Het Nieuwsblad after having taken a mini break. “Heino had a break after the Tour of Qatar,” Verbrugghe continued. “Aleksejs Saramotins is not well enough to race, so we called on Haussler since he was first on the reserve list. He comes to lend a hand to the team for the race, and also he can take the opportunity to regain some of his feel for riding on the pavés.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (28th February) Gand – Gand, 200,2 km (11h35 – 16h24)

Marcel Aregger (S), Matthias Brändle (Aut), Sylvain Chavanel (Fr), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Martin Elmiger (S), Jérôme Pineau (Fr), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Heinrich Haussler (Aus).
Sport manager: Rik Verbrugghe. Sport director: Eddy Seigneur.

Sylvain Chavanel:
Paris-Nice stage-5

header-cult-leftCult Energy Pro Cycling ready for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s participation in the French stage race, Haut Var, ended abruptly Sunday morning when the team mechanics realized the theft of bikes and equipment worth approximately 300.000 Euros. In spite of a thorough social media campaign, the stolen goods are still missing. However, with an incredible amount of support and practical help from friends and sponsors, the Cult Energy riders will be ready to take part of Saturday’s first Belgian cobblestone semi-classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

The race is the cobblestone opener in Northern Europe and some of the big classic favorites use the race to test the legs and their opponents. Saturday, the race organizers celebrate the 70th edition of the race, which has been dominated by Belgian riders with 53 victories and among them are Nick Nuyens and Philippe Gilbert. Home turf favorite, Tom Boonen still hasn’t won the race and he will be up against compatriot, Gilbert, Tour de France winner, Bradley Wiggins, former winner of the race Sep Vanmarcke and last year’s winner Ian Stannard.

About Cult Energy Pro Cycling’s chances in the race DS, Luke Roberts says: “If you’re not targeting at least a top-10 position, you’re not really in the race and we have a few riders capable of finishing with the best. Russell Downing and Martin Mortensen have both trained hard over the winter and they know these races really well so I reckon they will have the best chances for a top position. However, the rest of the group still lack the race kilometers and the experience on the cobbles but they’re motivated and we want to take part of the development of the race to show we’re in there,” says Roberts to underline the fact that he’s continuing the aggressive way of racing.

The line-up:
Russell Downing, Michael Carbel, Alex Kirsch, Martin Mortensen, Michael Reihs, Mads Pedersen, Joel Zangerle and Troels Vinther.

Russell Downing:

header-sky-leftTeam Sky has confirmed its rider line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsbald
Sir Bradley Wiggins will commence his cobbled classics campaign by heading up a strong Team Sky line-up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Wiggins was last in action at the Tour of Qatar, and has used his time since then to hone his condition and recon many of the key cobbled climbs. Our Knight of the Realm was joined on those preparation rides by Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe, and that duo will also be taking part in the Belgian curtain raiser along with Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio and Chris Sutton. Elia Viviani has also made the trip to Flanders, and Team Sky’s line-up for Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne on Sunday will be finalized on Saturday evening once the dust has settled after the day’s action. Servais Knaven will be Sports Director for both races, and is looking forward to get the classics under way. He said: “After a good training period over the winter we have a strong group heading into the classics. We’re excited to get started with this key phase of the season.
“As we all know, anything can happen during Saturday’s race, so we will sit down on Saturday night and assess how things have gone before confirming our line up for Kuurne.”

Team Sky have enjoyed a rich history in both these races, with Juan Antonio Flecha winning our first-ever appearance at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2010, and Ian Stannard goes into the 70th edition as defending champion following his hard-fought victory last season. Chris Sutton meanwhile, claimed his biggest one-day success at Kuurne back in 2011, and Mark Cavendish made it consecutive Team Sky wins 12 months later.

Team Sky line-up for Omloop Het Nieuwsbald:
Bernhard Eisel, Andy Fenn, Christian Knees, Salvatore Puccio, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton & Sir Bradley Wiggins.
*rider line-ups subject to change.

2014 Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard:

header-europcar15-leftEuropcar for Het Nieuwsblad
Antoine Duchesne, Yohann Gene, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jerome, Yannick Martinez, Julien Morice, Alexandre Pichot, Angélo Tulik.
Directeur Sportif: Dominique Arnould.

Antoine Duchesne:
europcar-Antoine Duchesne-620

header-lottonl-jumboleftTeam LottoNL-Jumbo set for opening classics weekend
Sep Vanmarcke’s time to harvest has arrived as the spring classics start this weekend. The robust Belgian Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider hopes to kick off his campaign with good results in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

“I’ve been able to prepare myself properly in the Volta ao Algarve,” Vanmarcke said. “It was a perfect race. The weather was great and the course tough. I even made it into a breakaway one day. I purposely dropped out after a while, so that I could get in the mix in the final, as well. I was specifically training for the classics.”

Vanmarcke knows what awaits him. “The Omloop and Kuurne are two completely different races. The Omloop is an open race, which often sees many attacks. The strongest rider doesn’t always win because of the tactical battle.

“Kuurne often ends in a sprint. I hope for bad weather on Sunday so that it will be a real race. My most important races are scheduled later, but I feel that I’m going to be good this weekend. I’m ready.”

Nico Verhoeven
“Sep is our man for the classics,” Sports Director Nico Verhoeven said. “He looked strong in the Algarve, and he’s surrounded by a group of riders that can support him very well.”

Vanmarcke won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2012. “And last year he finished fourth”, Verhoeven recalled. “We aim for the best possible result. Obviously, that’s winning, but last Sunday we were also pleased with Tom Van Asbroeck’s second place in the Algarve, for example. For us, that was the best result possible at that moment. As a team, we’re going to make sure that Sep can ride the best race possible.”

Van Asbroeck
Tom Van Asbroeck is more than ready to assist his compatriot and teammate in the Omloop. “Sep worked extremely hard for me in the Volta ao Algarve,” said the Belgian, who ended the Portuguese stage race with a second place in Sunday’s final stage. “I want to repay him this weekend, for everything he did for me.”

Hofland & Kuurne
Moreno Hofland crossed the line in second place last year in Kuurne, behind Tom Boonen. The young Dutchman is confident for Sunday after the Ruta del Sol. “I count on wind and rain and expect some real racing in the hilly zone. I hope to make it into the final with a few of my teammates. I obviously hope to fight for victory again.”

Verhoeven knows what makes his team a contender in Kuurne. “We have several riders who can join the battle for the win. With Tom and Moreno, we have two fast men, while Sep knows how to handle a hard race.”

Team line-up Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Tom van Asbroeck, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Directors: Jan Boven and Nico Verhoeven.

Sep Vanmarcke:

header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Etixx – Quick-Step has announced the selections that will participate in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, on Saturday, February 28th, and Sunday, March 1st.

The 70th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad officially launches the start of the 2015 spring classics. The 200.2km race features 11 hellingen, including many of the climbs also featured, or formerly featured, in Ronde van Vlaanderen. The hellingen include the Muur, Kruisberg, Taaienberg, Mollenberg, and Leberg. There are also ten cobbled sections.

As for the 67th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Tom Boonen won the 2014 edition of the race. This race can be more of an opportunity for a sprint, whether bunch or small group, than Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The final hellingen is 53km before the finish. There are nine total hellingen, with all but one being passed prior to the middle of the race. Notable hellingen include, but are not limited to, Kruisberg, Nokereberg, and Oude Kwaremont.

“The parcours hasn’t changed much, so the final is the same,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “For all the riders it’s the first test to see where they are on this kind of parcours before the big Classics. The masks will fall off. We are at the start with a strong team, with riders in good condition that can be a part of the actions and play a part in the final. So we are pretty confident in our abilities to be a protagonist. The last time we won this race was 10 years ago with Nick Nuyens, but the finish was still in Lokeren. Tom Boonen was 2nd that day. Now we hope after 10 years that we can do a good race and try to get a win.

“The weekend will continue with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, a race where we have a tradition of success including a victory last year with Tom,” Peeters continued. “He’s won this race three times. As usual Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne will be an open race, with a lot of attacks. We have riders for any solution, whether out of a breakaway or a group arrival. If there is a bunch sprint, Mark Cavendish will be there. He raced in 2012 for the first time and he won, so his success rate is high. We will try to do our best for a good result on Sunday as well.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite (BEL).
Tom Boonen (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL).
Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL), Tom Steels (BEL) & Rik van Slycke (BEL).

Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (BEL).
Tom Boonen (BEL), Mark Cavendish (GBR), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Nikolas Maes (BEL), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Lukasz Wisniowski (POL).
Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL) & Tom Steels (BEL).


header-lottosoudal15Marc Sergeant talks about the goal for this weekend
With the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday the Belgian road season can start. Today Lotto Soudal did a recon of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. It was a ride of one hundred kilometers over cobblestone sections like Haaghoek and Paddestraat. The last eight hills, among other Taaienberg and Eikenberg, lay also on the route.

Why a recon?
Marc Sergeant, manager Lotto Soudal: “The route doesn’t differ much from the past years, but a recon is useful. The riders can take a look at the crucial phases and mark points for during the race. The wind will play an important role, the riders can get an idea of what influence that will have. If on Saturday the wind heads in the same direction as today it will be backwind. A recon is also good for the youngsters in the team like Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx and Sean De Bie.”

Different race program
“Everybody knows that we have changed our race program. The riders will have covered less kilometers before the spring classics than in the past. The guys already said they feel more fresh. Of course this isn’t a guarantee yet for the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, but we hope it will have effect.”

Five victories so far
“The team has five victories so far, that’s one less than last year. Then it was only André Greipel who had won. This season André won one race, just like Kris Boeckmans and Tony Gallopin. Pim Ligthart could triumph two times already. We didn’t only win with the usual suspects and that feels great.”

Goal for this weekend
“The Omloop is one of the most beautiful races to win. The last victory of our team was in 2002, with Peter Van Petegem. In the Belgian opening weekend there can only be two winners. It’s important that we play a role this weekend. If we can battle in the final but don’t win, I can live with that. I repeat it every year, after this weekend the season isn’t over yet.”

Selection Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Tiesj Benoot, Stig Broeckx, Sean De Bie, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Bart Leysen.

Bad news for Lotto Soudal two days before the Belgian opening weekend. Because of the flu Jürgen Roelandts won’t start in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. It’s also uncertain if German champion André Greipel (throat) will race on Sunday. Team manager Marc Sergeant has stomach complaints.

Jürgen Roelandts leads Milan-Sanremo’14:
105th Milano-Sanremo 2014

header-wanty-leftLine-ups Omloop Het Nieuwsblad/Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
On Wednesday a selection of Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders did a recon of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course up until the cobbles of the Lange Munte. The selections for the two races in the opening weekend are determined.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Marco Marcato, Bjorn Leukemans, Mirko Selvaggi, Frederik Veuchelen, Frederik Backaert, Jérôme Baugnies, Kévin Van Melsen and Tim De Troyer.

For Marco Marcato it means the return to the Flemish cobbles and the opening weekend after a year of absence in 2014. In 2012 the now 31-year old Italian finished sixth in the Omloop.

“After a year of absence I am looking forward to the Flemish opening weekend even more. Ever since I ride with Hilaire Van Der Schueren, with Collstrop in 2008, these races are special to me. The Omloop is a nervous race where up to 20-25 riders can win instead of a short list of favorites of maybe 5-6 riders.”

Marcato rode the Etoile de Bessèges and helped Roy Jans win a stage in the south of France. Unfortunately the Italian had to leave the Volta ao Algarve after one day because of illness.

“I am still guessing after my form now but I do feel good. I hope to do a good race on Saturday and help Roy in the best way I can in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. Kuurne isn’t such a hard race on paper but the weather in Belgium makes it very unpredictable,” Marcato concludes.

Marcato and Jans will be joined in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne by Danilo Napolitano, James Vanlandschoot, Simone Antonini, Mirko Selvaggi and Frederik Veuchelen. The eighth rider will be determined after the Omloop.


header-MTN14-leftOmloop Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
This weekend will see the start of the cobbled spring classics when the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne take place on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Both of these Belgian classics, just like all the others, are renowned for their harsh racing conditions: cold wet weather, wind, small roads, cobbled climbs and a big bunch. The racing is expected to be intense and unforgiving, a spectators dream.

The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders are up for the challenge this weekend as a successful spring classics campaign is one of the teams definite season goals. A positive start this weekend will set the team up nicely for the slightly more arduous classics to come.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will have 9 riders on hand this weekend with the final rosters for each race being determined closer to the race start. Edvald Boasson Hagen, Gerald Ciolek, Tyler Farrar, Theo Bos, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Kristian Sbaragli, Youcef Reguigui, Jay Thomson, Jaco Venter and Matt Brammeier are the riders hoping to show their hand at least one of the weekend’s races.

The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will see riders tackle 200km’s which will include 11 Hellingen climbs, 5 of which are cobbled, and 10 separate cobbled sectors making the race a true test for the classics specialists. The Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne is 197km’s and lends its self slightly more to a strong sprinter with only 9 Hellingen climbs on the menu.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will no doubt be out to battle for the top step of the podium at both events and our African supporters will be happy to hear that SuperSport will be broadcasting both events live. Visit www.supersport.com for the broadcast schedule.

Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider
These races are known as the “openingsweekend” among the riders. It is the official opening of the classics season and it offers our first opportunity to test ourselves and to prepare for the bigger classics later. A good showing here can set you up for a good classics season.

Tyler Farrar – Rider
Opening weekend is always something special. After a winter of training and a month of preparation races, it’s the first time to really test yourself on the cobbles. Everybody would like to kick-off their classics campaign with a good result. After a month of waiting for the classics the Belgian fans will go crazy, which makes it pretty cool.


header-bmc15-rosterBMC for Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne
The BMC Racing Team opens its Belgian classics campaign with a roster that includes two-time Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Philippe Gilbert, as well as last year’s runner-up, Greg Van Avermaet, and two other past top 10 finishers, Marcus Burghardt and Jempy Drucker.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Saturday, Feb. 28) and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (Sunday, March 1):
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Michael Schär (SUI), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI), Rick Zabel (GER).
Sport Director: Valerio Piva (ITA).


header-europcar15-leftEuropcar for Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Bryan Coquard, Jimmy Engoulvent, Vincent Jerome, Morgan Lamoissin, Yannick Martinez, Alexandre Pichot, Angélo Tulik.
Directeur Sportif: Dominique Arnould.

Jimmy Engoulvent:

header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling team to Kuurne
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (Sunday, March 1st), 196 km (12h – 16h32)

Marcel Aregger (S), Martin Elmiger (S), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Roger Kluge (Ger), Simon Pellaud (S), Matteo Pelucchi (It), Vicente Reynes (Spa), Jonas Van Genechten (Bel).
Sport manager: Rik Verbrugghe. Sport director: Eddy Seigneur.

Martin Elmiger:

header-gpluganoG.P. Città di Lugano 2015
GP Lugano features an undulating 185km route, where a 34km circuit has to be tackled five times after an initial ride of 15km. The race revolves around the city of Lugano in the southern part of Switzerland, where the riders will have to tackle several shorter climbs on each lap. The race is often decided in a sprint amongst a select group of riders, but a lone rider breaking free on one of the final climbs also stands a chance as the terrain makes it difficult to catch a rider with punch left in the legs.


header-tinkoffsaxo14-leftTinkoff-Saxo team for the GP Lugano
Tinkoff-Saxo is set for Gran Premio di Lugano with a versatile team led by former race winner Ivan Basso. The Swiss one-day race takes place on March 1st in the hilly terrain in and around Lugano, where Tinkoff-Saxo is looking to play the part as main protagonist in a race with an excitingly unpredictable finale.

Eight riders will kit up in the distinctive yellow Tinkoff-Saxo colors. Team leader Ivan Basso, who won the race in 2011, will be accompanied by Manuele Boaro, Jesús Hernandez, Sergio Paulinho, Evgeny Petrov, Oliver Zaugg and season debutants Jay McCarthy and Chris Anker Sørensen.

“We look forward to GP Lugano with expectations, as we want to play a dominant role in this race. Ivan Basso is in good form and will be our team captain. However, it’s a race with different plausible outcomes for the finale, so we we’re fielding a versatile team in order to take into account that the race can be decided in a number of ways”, says Tinkoff-Saxo’s sports director at the race Bruno Cenghialta, whose level of ambition is backed by the team race captain.

“My own philosophy, as well as that of the team’s, is that when we go to a race, our goal is to win. We will go to Lugano with the explicit aim of, firstly, being the main protagonist, and secondly to win the race”, comments Ivan Basso, who’s racing in Lugano off the back of six hard stages in southern Spain.

Gran Premio di Lugano features an undulating 185km route, which has historically favored versatile riders with an ability to sustain efforts in hilly terrain. GP Lugano has on multiple occasions been decided in a decimated group at the finishing straight into Lugano. However, the route offers plenty of uphill sections that can be utilized to unleash deciding attacks.

“It’s a one-day race, so it’s similar to a classic and being a circuit it is similar to a world championship. It’s a demanding race that has two climbs that you repeat in each loop and as a result, we expect a tough day”, says Ivan Basso about the race.

Sports director Bruno Cenghialta underlines that GP Lugano is a race, where the team must field different strategies in order to adapt to the race.

“Basso, Paulinho and Hernandez are in good form and should perform well on the climbs. They also come after having ridden a lot in the mountains. However, the race is often decided among 15-20 riders in a select group of tough riders, where Boaro has shown to have good speed in the legs after a strong early-season performance”, says Cenghialta before adding that “the team will pay attention to the early breakaway. On a hilly parcours like this, the breakaway stands a better chance. Guys like Sørensen, Petrov and Zaugg have proven to be durable in these situations participating in long breakaways”.


header-iamcyclingIAM Cycling to ride the GP Lugano
After having been forced to abandon the second stage of the Tour du Haut-Var, Jonathan Fumeaux was legitimately disappointed in the face of his well-founded ambitions to perform well in France. Not one to dwell on the negative, Fumeaux has quickly turned the page and is ready to focus on his next event. At the GP Lugano, the IAM Cycling rider is determined to play a leading role along with his seven other teammates.

In considering the task ahead, Fumeaux emphasized the importance of being well positioned, but also the necessity to control the race after having ended his Haut-Var campaign on the road to Draguignan with an inopportune crash. “I could not avoid crashing in the first kilometers of the race on Sunday. I found myself on the ground after being hit by another rider. Ripped up and shocked because of the violence of the impact, I still made it back to the pack after a pursuit lasting more than twenty kilometers. But I had to admit to the obvious; I was no longer in any condition to play a leading role, in spite of the fact I felt great the day before. No crash is ever trivial, so I’ll try to recover and make use of the osteopath to expedite my progress. I want to recapture to good sensations I had before this incident. I always like racing the GP Lugano, which takes place on a tactical and demanding circuit. It is important to be wary of the early breakaway and to be well placed on the approach to the final climb before the finish. Typically, the victor comes out of a group of twenty riders.”

Known for his explosiveness in the final of a race, Fumeaux who comes from the Valais region in Switzerland, is looking forward to his appointment in Ticino, the Italian region of the country. “I like races in our country. There are none of the masses, and this allows us to show the jersey. We are lining up with a strong team; after the great performances of recent weeks, our solidarity can no longer be in doubt. And there will be plenty to do on Sunday, especially because not only will the competition be strong, but the course will be difficult.”

GP di Lugano (Sunday, March 1st)
Lugano – Lugano, 184,9 km (11h30 – 16h15)

Clément Chevrier (Fr), Jérôme Coppel (Fr), Jonathan Fumeaux (S), Pirmin Lang (S), Jarlinson Pantano (Col), Sébastien Reichenbach (S), David Tanner (Aus).
Directeur Sportif: Marcello Albasini, Rubens Bertogliati.

Jarlinson Pantano (Colombia, now IAM Cycling) follows Dario Cataldo (Sky):
Giro-D'Italia 2014 stage 14

header-colombia15Rubiano leads Colombia-Coldeportes in Lugano
Rodolfo Torres also part of a strong line-up for the Swiss one-day race

In addition to the French doubleheader – Classic Sud Ardeche and La Drome Classic – Colombia-Coldeportes’ Escarabajos will take part in another one-day event in the weekend, Sunday March 1st GP Lugano.

An individual time trial between 1950 and 1979, won by the likes of Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, or Ercole Baldini, the Gran Premio di Lugano has been organised in the past 34 years as a one-day race with a challenging terrain, suited to fast puncheurs. In the past seasons, the race used a difficult and selective circuit, which will be run five times, for a total 194,9 km, also at this years’ edition. From the top of the last hill there will be less than 5 km to the finish, where the riders with an extra kick can give it all for the victory.

Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi will lead a strong and well-rounded line-up, with former Colombian National Champion Miguel Angel Rubiano, coming off the Vuelta a Andalucia, motivated to make an impact on Sunday’s race. Runner-up at the Tour de San Luis earlier in the season, Rodolfo Torres will also be in contention for the one-day event, encouraged by his 15th place in the last mountain stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia.

“Miguel is in good condition after Andalucia, and will be our man in case the race comes down to a reduced sprint – Sports Director Tebaldi explained – but we are not short of options, with Torres, Carlos Julian Quintero and Edward Diaz looking sharp at the moment. We feel in good position to make a solid display.”

Originally in the Lugano’s line-up was also Cayetano Sarmiento, who was later scratched due to the loss of his mother Marina, and will travel to Colombia in the next few hours. Team Colombia-Coldeportes offers its heartfelt sympathy to Cayetano and his family, and looks forward to welcome him again soon.

Gran Premio di Lugano (March 1st)

Alex Cano, Edward Diaz, Fabio Duarte, Daniel Martinez, Sebastian Molano, Carlos Quintero, Miguel Angel Rubiano, Rodolfo Torres.
Sports Director: Valerio Tebaldi.

Miguel Angel Rubiano:

header-cult-leftCult Energy Pro Cycling get wildcard for Amstel Gold Race
Cult Energy Pro Cycling have received a wildcard for one of the monuments – Amstel Gold Race. The 50th anniversary edition of the Dutch one-day classic is due 19th of April 2015. The race is hilly and well-known for its steep slopes and narrow roads and traditionally, riders are crossing the finish line in small groups. Philippe Gilbert won the 2014 edition of the race.

Cult Energy Pro Cycling DS, Michael Skelde states: “Of course, it’s a privilege and an honor to be elected to participate in this year’s Amstel Gold Race. It’s an acknowledgement and recognition of us from the organizers and we are looking very much forward to being a part of one of the biggest one-day classics of the season. We are a small team compared to our opponents but I believe that Fabian (Wegmann) will be able to pull a top-10 result and that will be our goal besides from keep racing aggressively like we usually do. In addition, we have a young and talented Rasmus Guldhammer in our team and Amstel Gold Race will be a race for him in the years to come. I truly believe he has the talent and the power to be a contender for the win in a few years’ time,” says DS, Michael Skelde.


header-MTN14-leftMTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung to race Amstel Gold Race
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung are delighted that the organizers of the Amstel Gold Race have extended an invitation to our African team for the 2015 edition of their race.

The Amstel Gold Race is the Netherlands most premier professional cycling race that is held in the southern parts of Limburg, Netherlands. The race is steeped in history after the first event took place back in 1966. Today the Amstel Gold Race is a UCI World Tour event held in high regard by all the pro teams.

With the race taking place on the 19th of April, it also serves as the first of the 3 Ardennes classics. La Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege are the other two Ardennes classics. 2015 will be the first time Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung competes in the Amstel Gold Race.

While the cobbled classics like Paris-Roubaix are more typically suited to your bigger and stronger riders, the Ardennes classics are more for your climbers and thus we believe our African team could flourish at the Amstel Gold Race.

Jay Thomson – Rider
“It is a really great invite to get to take part in the Ardennes classic, Amstel Gold Race. It is the true start to the hard climbing classics to the south of Belgium and it is another outstanding monumental race MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is invited to. It is going to be great to watch one of our climbers or one of us opportunists take our chance at a big race.”

Michel Cornelisse – Sports Director
“It is special for me that we have a wildcard for the most important race in Holland. It is a dream for me to go to the race with a strong team so I will be proud to go show our MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung colors in my home country, Holland. With riders like Goss, Boasson Hagen, Farrar and some of the African climbers we will have a good chance for a result in the race.”


header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step Reaches Agreements with Contreras & Gaviria
Etixx – Quick-Step has reached agreements with Colombian riders Rodrigo Contreras and Fernando Gaviria. Both riders reached two-year agreements (2016-2017).

Contreras. 20, was 5th in the GC at Tour de San Luis earlier this season, and also was the Best Young Rider. Contreras won the gold medal in the U23 Men’s Individual Time Trial event of the 2014 UCI Pan American Continental Road Championships.

“I am over the moon to have this opportunity,” Contreras said. “It’s one of the best teams in the world and I am really looking forward to riding for this team. I am a climber, but I also love the time trial discipline. My idol is Rigoberto Uran, who races for this team, so to come here and learn from guys like him is really a dream come true.”

Fernando Gaviria, also 20, won two sprint stages at Tour de San Luis. He most recently won the men’s omnium at the UCI Track World Championship. The Colombian sprinter also won the U23 Men’s Road Race event of the 2014 UCI Pan American Continental Road Championships.

“I am really looking forward to joining this team,” Gaviria said. “This was my first choice. I love this team and have followed them since I was a kid. I have strong admiration for Mark Cavendish. At Tour de San Luis I was constantly watching him, trying to understand his movements and learn as much as I can from him. For me it is super to join a team that is so skilled in the sprints, and provides a good structure for me to do my job and get better at my job. For me it is a question of learning a lot with Etixx – Quick-Step, and to me this is the best team to learn from and also be able to do my job as best I can.”

Both riders underwent evaluations at Bakala Academy this morning.

“We are satisfied about this agreement because we were following both these riders for the past year,” Etixx – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere said. “It was nice to finally sit down with them and talk with them personally. I think they are good guys. They are motivated, but are also quality riders as you can see with the recent performance of Contreras at Tour de San Luis, and with Gaviria winning the omnium at Track Worlds. Concerning Gaviria, there is a possibility for him to ride with the team as a stagiaire this season, but we will decide later. We also talked a lot about his desire to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics on the track. We respect and support his decision. Next year Fernando will have a program that will allow him to be in the best condition for the Olympics, while also participating in road racing.”


Team NN simple stacked.pdfTeam Novo Nordisk’s Ruud Cremers Injured in Crash in Dominican Republic
Team Novo Nordisk’s Ruud Cremers sustained a head injury during Monday’s Stage 2 of the Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic.

Cremers, from Gulpen, the Netherlands, crashed during Stage 2 of the Vuelta Independencia Nacional and was unable to continue the race. The 23-year-old was transferred to the hospital where he is currently in stable condition and showing improvement. “Everyone at Team Novo Nordisk is pulling for Ruud’s recovery and doing everything in our power to support him and his family throughout the entire process,” Team Novo Nordisk CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland said. “We are using all resources at our disposal to ensure Ruud receives the best possible care. For now, please keep Ruud in your prayers.”

Ruud Cremers:
2015 Team Novo Nordisk

header-giroGran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland announces routes and opens registration
The major legacy event from the 2014 Giro d’Italia Big Start will today open registration and announced initial details on the two routes for the event, that will take place on 21 June 2015.

Registration details can be found at: www.granfondogiroditaliaNI.com

The Gran Fondo is supported by Tourism NI and the event organisers, Shadetree Sports, have been working to finalise route and registration details since the announcement by Minister Arlene Foster last December of a three year commitment to funding the event.

The emphasis on the event will be – authentic Giro d’Italia experience, fully closed roads, showcase Northern Ireland’s beautiful landscape to riders and international media and create a lasting legacy from the 2014 Giro Big Start.

1987 Giro d’Italia champion Stephen Roche will be an event ambassador and will ride the Gran Fondo, giving local cyclists an opportunity to ride alongside him. Further announcements on other famous cycling champions taking part are sure to create great levels of excitement in advance of June 21.

Commenting on the routes, Event Director Darach McQuaid said, “we are very excited to announce the routes for the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland. The Mourne Route, a 177km ride will challenge the fittest riders by providing tough climbs and inspire each rider by bringing them through some breathtaking scenery. We are confident this can become an iconic cycling route in the years to come. The Strangford Route, a 58km loop that is achievable for beginner and novice cyclists. We want to provide them with as much of the same experience in terms of closed roads and Giro d’Italia feeling, with a route length that should be achievable by many.”

“We will provide each participant with many benefits that will make the entry fee a very good value for the money. Among them will be – mechanical support on route, fully stocked food and hydration stations on both routes, a Giro Gift Bag with unique items, a post ride pasta party with beer and wine and finishers medals. We will be announcing more associated events and benefits in the coming weeks that we are sure will make this Gran Fondo a must do in any cyclist’s diary.”

The Mourne Route:
The 177km loop will pass over mountains and hills steeped in Irish history with the opportunity to view the beauty of the country from the highest mountain peaks to the Loughs and the Irish Sea.

Upon starting at Titanic Belfast, the riders will leave the city with the rolling and twisting roads of Co. Down towards mountain roads that will greet them after 42km. First up is the steep Monte Dree Hill, which has the ancient Slieve Croob as a backdrop. This is a designated area of natural beauty with the source of the River Lagan starting as a stream from the top of this mountain and running all the way to Belfast Lough.

After the country lanes and smooth twisting roads descending off the first climb they will begin to pass through towns and villages such as the hill top towns of Rathfriland and Hilltown as they head closer to the biggest mountain range in Northern Ireland, the Mourne Mountains. Then up the gradual climb of Monte Leitrim Hill with the beautiful Carlingford Lough in the backround.

Once over Monte Leitrim they will ride further into the Mourne Mountains at the foot of the jewel of the Gran Fondo Northern Ireland, the climb of Monte Spelga Dam. The steep switch backs and the high peaks will greet their entrance to this climb which will see them hit the “roof” of the Gran Fondo with the highest elevation for the route at its peak. Views across Co. Down to Co. Armagh are spectacular with one of Northern Ireland’s largest reservoirs in sight once they hit the top of the mountain. Staying within the Mourne Mountains as they descend alongside Tollymore Forest Park and into the village of Bryansford before starting the homeward trip and the last challenge of the ride.

Passing through Castlewellan before they begin the last climb of the day to Monte Slieve Croob. The riders will be greeted at the top with views to Lough Neagh and many of Northern Ireland’s counties and towns. The last section home will pass through Dromore town and into Ballynahinch and Saintfield on rolling roads before the gradual descent into Belfast city with views of the entire city and Belfast Lough before the finish at Titanic Belfast.

The Strangford Route:
The 58km route will prove challenging and enjoyable for all levels of cycling enthusiasts.

Leaving Titanic Belfast, they will ride 58km of rolling roads with two categorised climbs. The first challenge of the day will take place within the first 6km when riders will tackle Monte Braniel. A gradual climb with beautiful views of the city and across Belfast Lough once the top is reached. Completing the first real challenge of the day will set riders up for a nice ride on the rolling roads around some of Co. Down’s villages with the beauty of Strangford Lough to keep them company for much of this route. The lough is almost totally enclosed by the Ards Peninsula. The main body of the lough has at least seventy islands along with many islets, bays, coves, headlands and mudflats that riders will pass during the day.

The route will pass through the historic town of Comber before starting the climb of Monte Moneyreagh that will be the last climb of the day. This section will bring the riders through the rolling hills of North Down with the twisting and smooth road helping them enjoy the last challenge of the day. Once they have crested the final climb the homeward journey begins, which will descend into Belfast city with the view of the famous Harland and Wolff cranes in the distance along with the twinkle of the iconic Titanic Museum which signals the finish of the challenge. The descent into the city will be the perfect way to finish the ride with satisfaction and pride.

More detailed maps of both routes will be released in the coming weeks, along with exact locations of food and hydration stops.

Web Site: https://www.granfondogiroditaliani.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GfgiroNi
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gfgiroNI?ref=hl


header-etixx-qr15Etixx – Quick-Step #OurWay
Etixx – Quick-Step is a rare combination of tradition and innovation, which puts them at the forefront of the pro cycling peloton. The Belgian roots of the team, paired with an international impact, has brought together a world-class organization with top riders and staff from all over the world. There are intangibles that also explain the consistent success since 2003: Emotion, selflessness, passion, willpower, respect, and the tireless pursuit of excellence fuel the victories and other yearly achievements of Etixx – Quick-Step.

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