What's Cool In Road Cycling
Banyoles - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Team BMC pictured during stage - 2 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017 - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017

EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!

BMC are in the driving seat in the Volta a Catalunya after Movistar were penalized for pushing. Top Story and results, reports and video from Catalunya and the Dwars door Vlaanderen. In other cycling news: Teams for E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, A.S.O. signs partnership with Volta a Catalunya, #GIRO100 jerseys unveiled and teams for the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire. Another busy EUROTRASH Thursday.

TOP STORY: When is a push not a push?
The Movistar team won the team time trial stage 2 of the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday… then they didn’t. It was stated that JJ Rojas had pushed his teammates during the ride. The stage win went to BMC.

As you can imagine, the Movistar team were less than pleased and released this statement:

“After the events that happened following the team time trial of the Volta a Catalunya, with a one-minute penalty being eventually imposed over the eight riders that claimed victory on the stage yesterday, the Movistar Team wants to express its complete disagreement towards the sanction received.

It’s a penalty due to an infringement which we consider absolutely non-existent. The rider performing the action does not “push” his team-mates, but touches the back of them with his right hand to warn them that they must take his position into the team row, a fact that doesn’t influence the race’s outcome at all.

We deeply regret that a sporting event sees its results distorted by the application of a rule which punishes pushing between team-mates, something which, as shown by the images, was not the case yesterday. We consider this sets a dangerous precedent for the future, since any touch between riders from now on will have to be punished.”

Rojas, back number #4, puts his hand for less than a second on his team-mates’ back: 50 hundredths of a second on Amador, back number #3 (from 42’51″55 to 42’52″05, Movistar Team’s racing time – lower end of pictures-), and 80 hundredths of a second on Oliveira, back number #7 (from 43’17″18 to 43’17″97). His right-hand arm remains in the same position, which shows that he only tries to warn his team-mates so they take their position into the row.

Volta a Catalunya 2017
Stage 1 had six categorized climbs, but the peloton was less than interested in a hard day with the important team time trial on Tuesday. In the sprint finish in Calella; Davide Cimolai (FDJ) beat Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data). With the time bonus Cimolai has 4 seconds over Bouhanni, 6 seconds on Sbaragli and 10 seconds on the rest of the peloton.

Magno Prado Nazaret and Murilo Affonso (both Brasil), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) slipped off the front for a 40 second lead at the first climb. They were joined by Jetse Bol (Manzana Postobon), Axel Domont (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Brendan Canty (Cannondale-Drapac).

Domont and Bol dropped the others and with 40km to go they had over a minute, but on the final climb with 2km to go they were caught. From then on Katusha, Lotto Soudal and Cofidis kept the race together for their sprinters. Cyril Gautier (AG2R-La Mondiale) attacked 5 kilometers out, but was caught 2 kilometers later.

Peter Kennaugh was the next to jump, but he was caught in the last kilometer for Cofidis to set up the sprint for Bouhanni. The Frenchman hit the front a little too early and Cimolai came past him for the win.

Calella - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Davide CIMOLAI (Italy / Team FDJ) - Nacer BOUHANNI (France / Team Cofidis)  pictured during stage - 1 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017 - photo Miwa iijima/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner and overall leader, Davide Cimolai (FDJ): “I didn’t know how I would go, two days ago I did Milan-San Remo, a very long race. I like racing in Spain for the weather, for the stages and this is my second win in Volta Catalunya and I’m very happy. The object was to win one stage and now I work for the team. Tomorrow there is a harder time trial, and I see day by day.”

3rd, Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data): “I felt good today. Unfortunately, we didn’t go hard on the climbs as Lotto-Soudal controlled the peloton and set a slow tempo. Therefore, everybody was there at the end. I did my best but I made a small mistake when they started the sprint. I’m happy with the result, but not super happy. I think I could have done more had the stage been approached in a different way. However, I’m satisfied with my condition and I hope to get another chance during the week.”

4th, Dion Smith (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): “I felt I had good legs on the climbs. My teammates did a good job to position me in front of the peloton. In the last kilometer I was in Greipel’s wheel. I lost his wheel with 800m to go. Finally, I came very close to the third’s wheel. I am very happy because we aimed for top-10 but in my situation I am a bit disappointed not to be on the podium. It’s pretty cool to wear the white jersey. We will see how the TTT goes tomorrow. It won’t be easy to keep the jersey but I will enjoy it a lot. Now I focus on stage 4. It should be a bunch sprint again. In a good day, with a small bunch, I believe in my own chances. I am very confident with today’s stage, while the race and opponents are quite strong. It will depend on the recovery, day’s scenario, … but I believe in a stage win although a podium would be good already.”

Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe): “We caught the breakaway on the last climb and rode together into the finish. A bunch sprint is not what I like, when there would have been a smaller group, I would have had good chances. My team tried to bring me in a good position but we rode a little bit too early and therefore there was no chance. It´s especially hard for me when the big sprint stars like Greipel und Bouhanni are in front of the race. We saved energy for tomorrow´s team time trial and hope for a good run.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 1 Result:
1. Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ in 4:28:21
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
3. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
4. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
5. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
6. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
7. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott
8. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
9. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Sunweb
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 1:
1. Davide Cimolai (Ita) FDJ in 4:28:11
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis at 0:04
3. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data at 0:06
4. Dion Smith (NZ) Wanty-Groupe Gobert at 0:10
5. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
6. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
7. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Scott
8. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
9. Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Sunweb
10. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Bahrain-Merida.

Catalunya stage 1:

The Movistar team won the Stage 2 team time trial of the Volta a Catalunya on Tuesday in Banyoles, puting Alejandro Valverde in the overall lead.

The Spanish team beat the TTT World champions, BMC, by only 2 seconds on the 41 kilometer course, they had been 8 seconds up at the halfway point, but the US registered team managed to pull some time back before the finish line. The ride by the telephone squad put Valverde in the leaders jersey and gives him a lead 46 seconds over Chris Froome of Sky and 1:15 on Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo).

Originally the leaders jersey had been given to Jose Joaquin Rojas, but it transpired that he had pushed two of his teammates during the time trial. Rojas was penalized 3 minutes, 1 minute for each push, his teammates; Nelson Oliveira and Andrei Amador also had 1 and 2 minutes for their involvement in the incident.

UCI team time trial rules state that there should be a 1 minute penalty for each rider on the team and a fine of 200 Swiss francs for each rider caught pushing or being pushed. Only Rojas, Oliveira and Amador were penalized, none of the other Movistar riders received any penalty. Then it all changed by Wednesday morning and the whole Movistar team were given a 1 minute penalty and the overall leader was BMC’s Ben Hermans.

Banyoles - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Team Movistar  pictured during stage - 2 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017 - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017

Overall leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “It was a very tough time trial. We knew it would be hard, because we had ridden it five times during the last few days. It was a technical one, and knowing the course well ended up being key. We feared a bit the rain, because it would have made for a dangerous course, but we were lucky in the end and we got through it safe. We must go day-by-day, yet we put a very important gap on strong rivals today. It will be very difficult tomorrow, and I’m worried about bad weather again – let’s hope we can stay dry all week. My legs have been feeling good over the last few days, despite not having raced anything since Andalucía, so I hope I can keep the jersey. Obviously, though, having Contador or Froome contesting it will make for a difficult defense.”

6th overall, Rohan Dennis (BMC): “I think the team rode well today. We were really smooth over the whole 41.3km course, and in the end, we were the best team on the day. We didn’t break any rules, and we were the strongest as a whole, so I think we have to take our hats off to ourselves. We have around one minute on most of the other teams now, and that will act as a buffer and puts us in a good spot in terms of the overall General Classification.”

9th overall, Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “I felt great today, and I think we whole team rode really smooth and we kept our wits about us on such a technical course. I had a lot of fun today. It was a blast out on the course, almost like riding a rollercoaster. When you ride a Team Time Trial with a team as strong, and as technically sound as BMC Racing Team, you can’t help but enjoy it. I second everything Rohan has said as well. We played by the rules, and we were the strongest team today. I am surprised by some of the time gaps at the end of the stage, but it’s definitely a good morale boost going into the rest of the week and especially tomorrow’s stage. I have good memories on La Molina with top five finishes there over the past three years, and I have even won a stage here before, so I am looking forward to going back.”

Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe): “We were not bad for our first team time trial with this guys. The first ones have a really strong squad here, and they are more kind of TT specialists. We did our best and our performance was good. In the second part, we missed one or two big guys for the flat.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 2 Result:
1. BMC in 48:57:00
2. Sky at 0:44
3. Movistar at 0:58
4. Trek-Segafredo at 1:15
5. Orica-Scott at 1:19
6. FDJ at 1:44
7. LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:48
8. Astana at 2:05
9. Lotto Soudal at 2:10
10. Quick-Step Floors at 2:13.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 2:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 5:17:18
2. Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC
3. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
4. Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC
5. Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC
6. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC
7. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC
8. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:44
9. Peter Kennaugh (GB) Sky
10. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Sky.

Catalunya stage 2:

After a controversial decision took victory away from the Movistar Team on Tuesday, the Movistar squad struck back in the best way possible, claiming a fantastic win with Alejandro Valverde on Stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya, finishing atop the Cat-1 climb of La Molina. The Spanish rider took his 101st pro success ahead of Dan Martin (Quick-Step), who anticipated the man from Murcia’s acceleration with an attack 300m from the line, one that ‘Bala’ overtook without major problems to secure his success.

The Blues’ leader on Catalan soil crowned a nice piece of work from his week, mostly protagonized by Marc Soler. The 23-year-old local launched one of the final attacks that set up the finish for his leader, who now sits back in full contention after the one-minute penalty the race jury put on all his team-mates in the morning.

Thanks to the 10-second bonus and small splits in the finale, Valverde is now 4th overall, 45 seconds behind race leader Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) and only 4 and 1 second, respectively, from second and third-placed Samuel Sanchez (BMC) and Geraint Thomas (Sky), which complete the provisional podium. Marc Soler retains a magnificent 6th spot and will wear the best young rider’s jersey on stage 4.

La Molina - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Alejandro VALVERDE BELMONTE (Spain / Team Movistar)  pictured during stage - 3 of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya 2017 - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017

Stage winner, Alejandro Valverde: “It was a very fast start before the break went finally away. The last 50km were also really hard, too. Sky made it harder with a strong pace through the entire finale, but the team kept me protected perfectly and Soler was excellent controlling all moves into the last kilometers. Part of this victory is his, too. To be honest, I just had to make sure I sprinted properly. When Daniel Martin attacked, I went on his wheel quickly – I knew it would be difficult for him to beat me, because such uphill finishes really suit me well.

”We must continue to ride focusing on one stage at a time – get through Thursday first and then see how we’re feeling for Lo Port, which will be a really steep finish. I prefer not to further opine on what happened yesterday, everyone could see the images. Inwardly, we know we won that stage and we did it fairly. For the time being, our Volta can only be qualified as phenomenal.”

Overall leader, Tejay van Garderen (BMC): “The team rode amazingly today with the breakaway taking over 60km to establish itself. We were confident heading into today’s stage and, as we have good memories of La Molina, we were pretty sure we could keep the jersey. Yesterday there was a lot of commotion, and we put that behind us and got on with today’s task. It was all up in the air until just before today’s stage when we eventually got the jersey and subsequently the responsibility to control the race. This meant we had to adjust our strategy, but I think we handled this well and showed we are the stronger team. This is a big race. It has a lot of history and carries some weight being UCI WorldTour. We have a comfortable lead, but it’s not a sure thing especially with stage 5 but the team has good morale, and we are motivated to do our best to defend this jersey.”

Sprints leader, Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe): “It was my first real breakaway group since I am in cycling. I felt really bad today but I wanted to support my teammates. I was on the wheel of Quick-Step Floors when they attacked and went with them. Soon we had a big gap to the peloton. When the intermediate sprint came, I wanted to take it but it wasn’t so easy cause I felt not so good the whole day. That I took the sprint jersey was really great, my first podium experience in the WorldTour.”

Diego Rubio (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): “We went full gas at the beginning of the stage. The terrain was very undulating, which made for a crazy fight. Everybody from our team tried to break away and at end, I managed to do it thanks to the work of my teammates. It was a good group but Ackermann dropped on the ascent to Toses and afterwards, the rider from Quick-Step Floors stopped taking pulls. On the last climbs we were just two riders working in the break.”

Darwin Atapuma (UAE Team Emirates): “Today performance makes me happy because, despite the fact that today was only my fourth day in a month in a race, my legs gave me good feedbacks. The pace of the best climbers group was very high, it was almost impossible to attack, so I waited for the last 500 meters to make an attempt: I hoped the opponents controlled each other for general classification reasons, unfortunately they did not hesitates and my action was soon neutralized. Today stage gave me morale, I’ll try to exploit the chances which the next stages will offer to climbers.”

Rohan Dennis – Medical Update.
BMC Racing Team Doctor, Dr. Daniele Zaccaria:
“Rohan Dennis was managing a respiratory tract infection coming into this race, and we were monitoring his condition from when he arrived in Catalunya. We were able to manage the problem for the TTT which was a main objective for us. Now, with the colder weather in the mountains it was better for him to stop racing as we look at the bigger picture and the upcoming Giro d’Italia.”

Volta a Catalunya Stage 3 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:07:12
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors
3. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 0:03
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
5. Ilnur Zakarin (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
6. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
8. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC
9. Michael Woods (Can) Cannondale-Drapac at 0:08
10. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac.

Volta a Catalunya Overall After Stage 3:
1. Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC in 10:24:33
2. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC at 0:41
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:44
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:45
5. Christopher Froome (GB) Sky at 0:49
6. Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar at 1:10
7. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo at 1:13
8. Adam Yates (GB) Orica-Scott at 1:18
9. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 1:25
10. Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Trek-Segafredo.

Catalunya stage 3:

Dwars door West-Vlaanderen 2017
Quick-Step Floors owned the 72nd edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen, which this year made its debut in the World Tour calendar, taking 1-2 in Waregem with Yves Lampaert and Philippe Gilbert. Our team stamped its authority on the Belgian classic right from the beginning, when powerhouse Tim Declercq hit the front of the peloton and put in some mammoth turns, thus bringing down the advantage of the six men who managed to escape the clutches of the bunch after 20 kilometers.

Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert, who was racing Dwars door Vlaanderen for the first time since 2004, instigated a move with 78 kilometers to go on Berendries, forcing a selection which saw around 20 riders extricating themselves from the peloton and establishing a 30-second lead. Behind, Cannondale-Drapac, FDJ and Trek-Segafredo led the chase, but their effort was to no avail, as Gilbert and Yves Lampaert, who too was part of the group, worked hard to keep them at bay.

On Eikenberg, Yves attacked, and even though he was reeled in over the top of the climb, his action still produced some damage, as the front group was reduced to 12 men. At one point, it looked like the peloton will come back, with the gap dropping to 20 seconds, but the same Quick-Step Floors riders ensured the move will stick, and as a result they tackled the Oude Kwaremont with a 40-second lead.

It was on the steep and brutal Paterberg that Philippe showed his class and put the hammer down, taking with him only three riders: Yves, Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana). Behind, the peloton got fragmented and Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra took advantage of this and of the tough terrain to go in pursuit of the first chasing group, to which they bridged inside the last 25 kilometers.

Final climb of the day – Nokereberg – had the Belgian Champion in the spotlight, as he pulled clear over the top of the hill and opened a five-second gap before the others came back on his wheel. Herlegemstraat was the race’s last hurdle, and on the long cobblestone stretch Yves struck a move which left Durbridge and Lutsenko speechless. In the blink of an eye, the advantage grew to 30 seconds, and long before “Lampy” went under the flamme rouge it became clear he’ll nab his biggest victory since turning pro.

Philippe Gilbert led home the chasers, making it a memorable 1-2 for Quick-Step Floors at Dwars door Vlaanderen and taking the outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere at the top of the World Tour standings after nine events.

Waregem - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  Yves LAMPAERT (Belgium / Team Quick Step - Floors)  pictured during Dwars door Vlaanderen / A travers la Flandre 2017 Elite - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Race winner, Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors): “To win a World Tour classic in the Quick-Step Floors kit gives me an amazing feeling. I can’t tell you how happy I am for myself and for the team. Together with Philippe, who proved again today what a huge champion he is, we did a superb job. We had the strength in numbers and this played in our advantage. When I attacked, I wasn’t sure I will open a gap, despite feeling strong, but I noticed they couldn’t bridge across and that gave me confidence. The final kilometers of the race were like a short and tough time trial, but I gave everything. To win Dwars door Vlaanderen is a dream come true, especially as I did this together with such a fantastic team and in front of so many supporters!”

2nd, Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step): “We were always on the front today. After the selection I made on Berendries, some guys in the group started to sit in, so we decided to go again, this time on Eikenberg. On Paterberg, we were first and second at the bottom of the climb and went full gas. Behind, Styby and Niki did a great job and helped us stretch out our advantage to one minute. By Nokereberg, we knew this was enough to win, so our plan was to attack there, and after they caught me, it was Yves’ turn to follow up with a move. He made it all the way to the finish and I’m very happy for him and the team, this is a big day for us!”

3rd, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana): ”There were a lot of attacks on the final part of the race. On Oude Kwaremont a group of more or less 20 riders went away. I was able to follow it together with Matti Breschel. It was a good situation for us. I decided to support Matti, working in front of the pack and helping to increase our lead. But later, on Paterberg it was Philippe Gilbert, who launched a strong attack and only me, Lampaert and Durbridge followed him.”

Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe): “The team did a really good job to be at the head of the peloton in the decisive moment, especially Juraj made a big effort. I made the split then when Gilbert made his move. It was good to be up there early, but when the 4 went away, some guys could catch up and everything started to become nervous. In the end were a lot of attacks and I tried to follow several times. That’s why I didn’t have a lot energy left for the sprint, but I am happy with my performance today.”

Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal): “I’m disappointed. On the Kattenberg I attacked for the first time and not much later I managed to close the gap to the group Gilbert. I hoped that someone would join me, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. There was a small gap, two riders in front of me, just at the decisive moment. I could have reacted more quickly but it happened all so fast. I just expected more. It’s a race I like to ride and I also think it’s a shame that we weren’t able to show what we can do as a team. Friday is a new opportunity for us in the E3 Harelbeke and hopefully we can react as a team.”

Dwars door West-Vlaanderen Result:
1. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors in 4:47:26
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors at 0:39
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
4. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Scott
5. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 1:03
6. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
7. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
9. Mitch Docker (Aus) Orica-Scott
10. Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis.

Dwars door West-Vlaanderen:

Van Avermaet Looking for Success on Home Soil
Greg Van Avermaet will continue his lead up to the next Monument, Ronde van Vlaanderen, by racing at Record Bank E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem – In Flanders Fields this week.

A win on home soil would give Van Avermaet an advantage for the next Monuments, Sports Director Fabio Baldato said.

“Greg has been on the podium at both E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the past, and we know he is in even better shape this year. To win one of these races is a big confidence boost ahead of Ronde van Vlaanderen, and as Greg knows the roads so well, we know he has a good chance,” Baldato explained.

“The riders lining up at the two races change slightly, but both make up very strong teams that are ready to work in support of Greg. The experienced riders like Martin Elmiger, Daniel Oss, Manuel Quinziato and Francisco Ventoso are crucial when it comes to these Classics. It’s also a great opportunity for our younger riders to gain more experience.”

After a successful start to the season Van Avermaet is confident in his form ahead of the two UCI WorldTour races.

“I’m looking forward to E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem as I hope to come away with a win. I’m really confident with my form as I was feeling good at Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, and if everything goes well I’m ready to do a good result in preparation for Ronde van Vlaanderen,” Van Avermaet said.

“These are the last races that I will do before Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix so it’s important to give it everything, and work well together as a team.”

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (24 March)
Rider Roster:

Silvan Dillier (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA).


Gent-Wevelgem – In Flanders Fields (26 March)
Rider Roster:

Silvan Dillier (SUI), Stefan Küng (SUI), Daniel Oss (ITA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Miles Scotson (AUS), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS).

Greg Van Avermaet:
Siena - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Greg VAN AVERMAET (Belgium / BMC Racing Team) pictured during Strade Bianche elite 2017 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Lineup & Preview: E3 Harelbeke & Gent-Wevelgem
This weekend Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will start its Spring Classic’s campaign by racing the E3 Harelbeke tomorrow and the Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday. We will have the same squad lining up for both these World Tour events and our African Team are motivated to achieve a top result with our team leader, Edvald Boasson Hagen.

The E3 Harelbeke will take place over 206km tomorrow and this year’s edition of the race includes no less than 15 of the famous Belgian hellingen (climbs). With 13 of the short, steep and mostly cobbled climbs coming in the final 90km of the race, it is sure to be another thrilling edition of the spring classic. The Taaienberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont climbs are expected to be the stage for most of the action once again.

Gent-Wevelgem will take place for 79th time when the riders leave the start in Deinze on Sunday. Known as the spring classic for the sprinters because of the fewer climbs and cobbled sections, although this year the organisers have added a few new gravel sectors which should shake up the racing that much more. The parcours covers a lengthy 249km in total and as we have seen in the past, if the weather makes a turn for the worse then a strong team will be able to split the race.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will be looking to Boasson Hagen as its protected rider at E3 and Gent-Wevelgem. Boasson Hagen, a previous winner of Gent-Wevelgem has been on a steady progression, building his form toward the Paris-Roubaix. Scott Thwaites will also be one to watch from our African Team, after a successful classics season last year and already a solid start to 2017, Thwaites will be key rider for us at both races.

In completing our roster, our African Team will be able to rely on the experienced trio of Bernhard Eisel, also a former Gent-Wevelgem victor, Tyler Farrar and Mark Renshaw to read the racing. Jay Thomson, Nic Dougall and Youcef Reguigui give our team depth in their collective strength.

Roger Hammond – Sport Director
It is an exciting time for us as the Belgian classics are always a big focus. Milan-Sanremo kicks off the one day racing but this is where the real heart of cycling is. We are really excited but we are in a bit of the unknown. The team is still building and trying to find its feet this year and the E3 is not an easy event. So, we are jumping into the deep end so to speak because we have a limited classics team in terms of numbers, we don’t have the luxury of swapping riders and doing the other events to get ready. So, there are a lot of nerves going around but they are positive and exciting nerves. Edvald proved last year he is a force to be reckoned with in any of the one day races. I like to look at it as, if Edvald won would you be surprised? I don’t think anyone would be so that always makes him one of the favourites for these races. Both E3 and Gent-Wevelgem are great opportunities for us and winning anyone of these is massive and just as difficult as trying to win Flanders or Roubaix, so we stand as good a chance as ever.

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke – next Belgian race for Gazprom – RusVelo
Just after a short two-day recovery from Dwars door Vlandeeren, riders of Gazprom – RusVelo will compete on the E3 Harelbeke race. This race is considered as one of the most prestigious cobbled one-day races.

E3 Harelbeke is another World Tour event in Belgium and this year it will be the 60th edition since the inception in 1958. Traditionally the riders roll out and finish in the town of Harelbeke in the Belgian province of West Flanders. The modern name of the race refers to the highway E3. The race rapidly gained popularity in recent years and in 2012 UCI awarded it with the WT license.

Without a doubt, the cobbled hills Paterberg, Aude Kwaremont and Tiegemberg will be the main challenges of the race, which riders are to climb 42, 39 and 18 kilometers before the finish line. However, the whole route of 206 kilometers is craggy and consists of 15 hills including well-known cobbles.

Previous editions of E3 Harelbeke have shown that after the hill climbs Paterberg and Aude Kwaremont a small group of classic riders manages to breakaway from peloton. Most commonly, riders from this group are fighting for the victory and the top places.

Sports Director of Gazprom – RusVelo Alexey Markov gave a comment about the upcoming race: «E3 is a magnificent and unpredictable race. To show a good result it is vital to be in the front of the peloton before the decisive cobbled sections. It has a huge influence in allocation of places. We analyzed several possible scenarios for the race and our riders will act according to them. We are determined to compete for the highest places».

Gazprom – RusVelo line-up:
Igor Boev, Pavel Brutt, Roman Maikin, Ivan Savitskiy, Andrey Solomennikov, Alexander Porsev, Nikolay Trusov, Alexey Tsatevich.

Quick-Step Floors Team to E3 Harelbeke
Five-time winner Tom Boonen and Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert will headline our squad for Friday’s Flandrien appointment.

No sooner has the dust settled over Dwars door Vlaanderen, the first cobbled World Tour race of March, that the riders turn their attention to another important fixture of the classics campaign, E3 Harelbeke, which this year celebrates its 60th edition.

Starting and finishing in Harelbeke, the 206.1km-long event will take the peloton over a course very similar to next week’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, the season’s second Monument. This means the riders will go on narrow roads and challenging pavé sectors, as well as over the famed Taaienberg, Eikenberg, Oude Kwaremont or Paterberg – all coming thick and fast – which will shatter the bunch and incite to attacks, thus ensuring the race will be an intense and dynamic one in its second part.

Tom Boonen, who in 2012 sprinted to victory taking his fifth crown at E3 Harelbeke and surpassing Rik Van Looy on the all-time winners list, will make his 13th and final appearance at the Belgian classic, six days after completing Milano-Sanremo, where Quick-Step Floors’ aggressive tactic resulted in a third place for debutant Julian Alaphilippe.

Fellow countryman and Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert is set to continue his outing on the cobbles this season, following his second place in Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, a race in which he was instrumental in Yves Lampaert’s success. Zdenek Stybar, Niki Terpstra and Matteo Trentin – all former podium finishers at E3 Harelbeke – will give the team as many options once things heat up and attacks start coming in, while Jack Bauer, Iljo Keisse and local favourite Julien Vermote are sure to add considerable firepower to the team led from behind the wheel by Wilfried Peeters and Tom Steels.

24.03 Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (BEL) 1.UWT

Jack Bauer (NZL), Tom Boonen (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Julien Vermote (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).

Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media | brakethroughmedia.com

Preview E3 Harelbeke with DS Herman Frison
The peloton continues its way along Flemish hills and cobbles. The 60th edition of E3 Harelbeke, a WorldTour race, is scheduled tomorrow. Fifteen Flemish hills and a range of top riders are the ingredients for a spectacular race.

At twenty past twelve the riders start in Harelbeke, for a race of 206.1 kilometres. Before they get to the tough second half of the race they can warm up by covering two cobblestone sections and the Katteberg. Before the peloton enters the last one hundred kilometres it has to climb La Houppe. From then on it’s one hill after another. The Taaienberg, often crucial in this race, lies at just over seventy kilometres from the finish. The route runs further over among other Eikenberg, Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont. After the Kwaremont it’s time for the Karnemelkbeekstraat. Last year, Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski rode away on that hill. Over the cobbles of the Varent it goes to Tiegemberg, the last hill of the day. From the top it’s 18.6 kilometres to the finish.

Tiesj Benoot was the best Lotto Soudal rider last year. He arrived at the finish in the first chasing group, elevens seconds after Kwiatkowski who had won. Tiesj got seventh. This year Tiesj is part of the Lotto Soudal line-up again. Also Tony Gallopin is selected for this race. In 2014 he was sixth in Harelbeke. That year Peter Sagan won. The world champion will start tomorrow as well. Last year’s winner Michal Kwiatkowski won’t be there. Other names on the start list are five-time winner Tom Boonen, John Degenkolb, Philippe Gilbert, Alexander Kristoff, Ian Stannard, Jasper Stuyven, Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke.

Herman Frison, sports director Lotto Soudal: “Yesterday, we were overtaken by events in Dwars door Vlaanderen. We only had Jelle Wallays in the front group that was established with 75 kilometres to go. That was not enough. This is an important time of the year, in which we go from one big race to another. Tomorrow is another opportunity which we want to grab with both hands. We want to perform as a strong team, that animates the race and plays along for the top results.”

“At Dwars door Vlaanderen the selection was made on the Berendries, where nobody expected it. Also tomorrow it can happen on every hill, starting from La Houppe. We need to be attentive. You can also determine the decisive moment yourself. At Dwars door Vlaanderen, we saw that teams dared to attack. Also we can’t risk to wait tomorrow.”

“There are so many strong competitors at E3 Harelbeke, with also Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet who will take the start. Tiesj Benoot and Tony Gallopin are the leaders of our team. We hope to see them both at the head of the race in the finale. The situation will determine how we have to deal with that. Yesterday, it was successful for Quick-Step Floors, with Lampaert winning the race and Gilbert finishing second. We also have four riders who can anticipate: Jasper De Buyst, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes and Jelle Wallays. The E3 Harelbeke is one of the toughest one-day races on the calendar and I hope that we can set a nice result with our team.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Tiesj Benoot, Kris Boeckmans, Jasper De Buyst, Tony Gallopin, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes, Rémy Mertz and Jelle Wallays.
Sports directors: Herman Frison and Frederik Willems.

Tiesj Benoot:
Siena - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Tiesj BENOOT (Belgium / Team Lotto Soudal) - Zdenek STYBAR (Czech / Team Quick Step - Floors) pictured during Strade Bianche elite 2017 - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2017

Classics Q and A: Vanmarcke, Klier, Vanmarcke and Van Baarle
E3-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem loom over the classics teams now, and just further in the distance are the cobbled monuments of Flanders and Roubaix. There are no such things as tune-up races in the spring anymore — those who fare well over the next two races declare warnings for the Monuments to come.

Cannondale-Drapac sends a talented roster into the opening weekend of cobbled racing in Flanders, one that’s all in for captain Sep Vanmarcke. Here, find interviews with some of our key classics players in Sep Vanmarcke and Dylan Van Baarle and directors Andreas Klier and Ken Vanmarcke.

Sep Vanmarcke
First off, how are you doing after that crash at Strade?
I’m fine. The ribs are not yet totally okay, but since this weekend I felt they’re improving. Doctors say I won’t damage it more with racing, so that’s good to know. I want to focus on the race, not on the pain.

What do you make of these next two races? What’s an important thing to look out for?
Both in E3 and Gent-Wevelgem I’ve had several top five results, so they suit me well. But both are different races. E3 has more hills. Gent Wevelgem has the wind playing a key role. But both races I like. In both there is a very high level because the top of the classics riders are at the start with theirbest form. In both races it’s really important to have good position at the right moments. There are many important sections, so there are many fights for position.

How’s the team feeling to you?
After the opening weekend, we had a good view on everything and everybody, so we could work from there. We are developing how to make it perfect. I’m sure we will do well as a group here. Everybody has a good condition and really wants to do his work well.

Andreas Klier, DS
What do we have to watch for in E3 and Gent? What makes these races special, or unique?
First of all, is it the weather which has made Gent-Wevelgem very special over the last few years. Because of the fact that there is a very exposed area where the race takes place, very often the first decision will happen before you actually enter the key sections around the Kemmelberg. About E3, I can say that over the last years that race has been a “small brother” of the Ronde and the results of that race show that I am right. If you are able to be top three there, then you are absolutely also competitive for the upcoming races.

How is the cobbles team doing right now?
They’re doing fine and are all on track. Our key riders where able to compete in Tirreno or Paris-Nice, and none of them had any big problems considering the build toward peak performance for the northern classics.

Do we go in with a plan to support Sep 100 percent in these earlier classics or will there be opportunity for others?
We will always support Sep 100 percent from the very first race until the last northern classic. Out of that sort of plan, very often you create moment where you can play another card. If this would be the case and we have a rider who could play a key role in the deep final of a race without having any negative influence on Sep’s mission, then of course we will do that.

Dylan Van Baarle
How are you feeling heading into the big spring campaign?
The condition after Tirreno gets better and better. In Omloop and Strade Bianche, I crashed and hit my knee really bad. So after Omloop, I couldn’t train properly. I suffered a lot in the Tirreno but came out stronger.

What do these races mean to you?
The cobbles are always special to me. Every year I’m looking forward to those races. E3 is like a mini tour of Flanders. And with Gent-Wevelgen I have a love/hate relationship. DNF for the last 2 years. So hope I can go there now for a nice result. We have a really strong leader in Sep. He is able to follow Sagan and Van Avermaet on the climbs. For me personally, I have to be in front when Sep starts his engine. As a team we have the strongest team since I’ve been here. So I’m really looking forward to this week’s racing.

Ken Vanmarcke, DS
How is the cobbled team doing right now?
We have a mixed team of experienced riders and young riders. With the help of the young riders, who are very motivated to learn and support leaders, we hope to animate the finishes.

Since you know this area so well…What’s interesting about E3? What do we have to watch for?
E3 is the only race that uses different roads towards the [more famous] climbs. That’s why road-knowledge is even more important here. They call E3 the mini Tour of Flanders, as it is very close to the level of Flanders. Every year it’s extremely nervous towards Taaienberg, which always splits the bunch. In the final we have 3 hills, Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, and Karnemelkbeekstraat, which decides the leading group.

And about Gent-Wevelgem?
There are several things that makes this race very interesting. We always have to deal with wind, which makes the race very nervous all day. Than we also have the Kemmelberg, which is a hard hill with no ideal line to ride, and everybody wants to be in front at the base of it. And since this year we have three off-road sections, we don’t know what we can expect there.

How important are these races coming up? Do we try for a result now, or build to Flanders?
All races are WorldTour class, so there is no doubt we want to score in all three races. In modern cycling, there are no ‘build up’ races anymore. As it is so hard to win, you always have to aim for victory.

Cannondale-Drapac for E3-Harelbeke:
Alberto Bettiol (ITL), Kristijan Koren (SVN), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Ryan Mullen (IRL), Tom Scully (NZL), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Dylan Van Baarle (NED), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL).

Cannondale-Drapac for Gent-Wevelgem:
Kristijan Koren (SVN), Sebastian Langeveld (NLD), Ryan Mullen (IRL), Tom Scully (NZL), Tom Van Asbroeck (BEL), Dylan Van Baarle (NLD), Sep Vanmarcke (BEL), Wouter Wippert (NLD).

Sep Vanmarcke:
Denia - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Sep VANMARCKE (Belgium / Cannondale Drapac Professsional Cycling Team) pictured during 68th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage 2- from Alicante to Denia (180 km) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017 ***Spain out***

A.S.O. Signs Partnership with Volta a Catalunya
A.S.O. has entered into a strategic partnership with the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, a race organized and owned by Club Volta Ciclista a Catalunya Associació Esportiva and supported by the Government of Catalonia. Currently part of the WorldTour calendar, the oldest stage race in the world after the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia was a linchpin of Spanish cycling from the beginning, but it also went on to become a key event for the international elite. During the 20th century, Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Bernard Thévenet, Francesco Moser and Sean Kelly carved their names on the list of winners alongside Spaniards such as Federico Bahamontes, Luis Ocaña and Miguel Indurain. Daniel Martin, Richie Porte and 2016 champion Nairo Quintana have taken home the famous green and white jersey in more recent years.

The 2017 edition, which will see riders such as Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Alejandro Valverde go head-to-head from 20 to 26 March, is just around the corner. Rubén Peris, the chairman of the organizing club, explains the key points of the new partnership: “We will benefit straight away from A.S.O.’s expertise in areas such as image production and distribution of TV rights, which will help us bring our broadcasts up to the highest standards.” Yann Le Moenner, on the other hand, is adamant that A.S.O. “is proud to support a cycling race with such a prestigious list of winners. This partnership ensures we’ll be there for the 100th edition of the Volta a Catalunya in 2020 and tackle future challenges together.” Gerard Figueras, the Secretary-General for Sport of the Government of Catalonia and one of the architects of the partnership deal, agrees: “It goes without saying that we really care about this historic event, which is part of the Catalan sports tradition. A.S.O.’s contribution opens up exciting prospects for the future, with their expertise in commercial strategy complementing the know-how of the organizing teams.”

Key points:
A.S.O. and the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya have struck a 5-year partnership deal focusing on image production, distribution of TV rights and sponsorships.
· The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya was first held in 1911 and has since grown to become a mainstay of world cycling, with names such as Merckx, Anquetil, Ocaña, Thévenet, Indurain and Quintana on the honour roll of a race whose fame attracts a star-studded field year after year.

#GIRO100 Jerseys Unveiled
Unveiled through a video that showcases history and tradition, are three of the four leader’s jerseys of the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia, which starts from Sardinia on 5 May and finishes in Milan on 28 May. The fourth jersey – the one that denotes the leader of the Sprint Classification – will be unveiled in the coming days, with a special surprise to celebrate this year historic edition of the Corsa Rosa.

Giro d’Italia 100 jerseys are made by Santini Maglificio Sportivo, who designed all the details.

MAGLIA ROSA – sponsored by ENEL – General Classification leader
MAGLIA AZZURRA – sponsored by BANCA MEDIOLANUM – Mountains Classification leader
MAGLIA BIANCA – sponsored by EUROSPIN – Young Rider Classification leader

“The Giro d’Italia tells more than 100 years of the history of our country. The effort of the athletes riding their bikes demonstrates the passion, the sacrifice and the team spirit needed to finish each stage and maybe win it too. Enel shares the same spirit as the 100th edition of the Giro becoming even closer to the people, showcasing its activities and learning where to improve to best address its clients needs. We will follow the race to help tell the story of the great change happening in the world of energy, in particular around electric mobility, energy efficiency, Smart Technologies and a new shared vision of the future of energy in our country,” said Carlo Tamburi, Enel’s Head of Country Italy.

“We are proud to sponsor the Giro d’Italia Maglia Azzurra of the King of the Mountain for the fifteenth year. The Maglia Azzurra is a symbol of the Italian culture,” said Ennio Doris, Banca Mediolanum Chairman. “Our choice to continue our sponsorship is motivated by the idea that to climb a mountain we go slower, as happens in times of economic crisis, but, at the same time, we pull out all of our strength to win. The final winner of the Giro d’Italia comes from the Mountains. Cycling is a sport that requires effort. Those who have tried to cycle uphill know that only those who have trained manage to reach the top of the Mountain. This hundredth edition of the Giro is a story of men and their passions and challenges, a great story loved by millions of fans.”

“This is our third year of sponsoring the Maglia Bianca,” said Ivan Odorizzi, Eurospin Italia Chairman, “and we are very pleased to participate in the Giro 100, such an important edition of the race. Despite being over 100 years old, the Giro d’Italia has never felt so young and vibrant. We like to think the same about Eurospin. We are only 24 years old, so we are legitimately entitled to wear the Maglia Bianca! In our 24 years we have pedalled a lot, so that today we have more than 1,000 retail points and we have presence in each and every province of our country, paying particular attention to local traditions. This year, next to each Giro stage, we will dedicate to the local gastronomic excellences a specific brand: ‘Giro tra i Sapori d’Italia’. It looked like the best way to celebrate Giro100!”

Tour de Yorkshire 2017: Teams Selection
Eighteen cycling teams have been selected to take part to the 3rd edition of the Tour de Yorkshire which will be held this coming 28-30 April.

7 UCI WorldTour Teams:
BMC Racing Team (USA), Orica – Scott (AUS), Team Dimension Data (RSA), Team Sunweb (GER), Team Katusha Alpecin (SUI), Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (NED), Team Sky (GBR).

5 UCI Professional Continental Teams:
Aqua Blue Sport (IRL), Cofidis, Solutions Crédits (FRA), Direct Energie (FRA), Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij (NED), Delko Marseille Provence KTM (FRA)

5 UCI Continental Teams + 1 National Team:
Team Raleigh GAC (GBR), ONE Pro Cycling (GBR), JLT Condor (GBR), Madison Genesis Team (GBR), Bike Channel Canyon (GBR), Team GB (GBR).

Picture by Alex Broadway/SWpix.com - 30/04/2016 - Cycling - 2016 Tour de Yorkshire: Otley to Doncaster - Yorkshire, England - The peloton makes it way through Thorner.

Eighteen cycling teams have been selected to take part to the 3rd edition of the Tour de Yorkshire Women’s Race which will be held on April 29th.

13 UCI WorldTour Teams :
Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team (NED), BePink Cogeas (ITA), Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling (GBR), Canyon/SRAM Racing (GER), Cylance Pro Cycling (USA), Lares-Waowdeals Women Cycling Team (BEL), Drops (GBR), Team Sunweb (NED), Cervelo – Bigla Pro Cycling Team (GER), Ale Cipollini (ITA), Hitec Products (NOR), FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope (FRA), Team WNT Pro Cycling (GBR).

5 British Teams:
Team Ford Ecoboost (GBR), Fusion RT Fierlan (GBR), Storey Racing (GBR), NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli (GBR), Team Jadan Weldtite (GBR).

Route preview in images – 2017 Tour de Yorkshire:

Take a look at our Instagram page for a live feed of #PeloPics, #DailyDistractions, and giveaways straight from your phone: https://www.instagram.com/pezcyclingnews

Don’t forget to check the “NEWSWIRE” section, you can find it on the homepage, just above the EuroTrash section. The bits of news that missed the EuroTrash deadline are in there, plus any news as-it-happens will be added there too.

Any comments drop me a line, email address: [email protected] or Twitter. And check the PezCyclingNews Twitter and Facebook Page.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.