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EuroTrash Thursday!

The cobbled Classics start this weekend with Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, we have the team previews, plus we look at the Classic Sud Ardèche, La Drôme Classic, Tour de Langkawi and the Vuelta a Murcia. Sinkewitz’s ban makes the TOP STORY, add to that the last cyclo-cross of the season, other cycling news, Stephen Roche enters the Giro Hall of Fame and lot’s of video in a full EuroTrash Thursday.

TOP STORY: Patrick Sinkewitz Banned for 8 Years
In Monday’s EuroTrash I pointed out that cycling was not the only sport with a drug problem as there had been five positive test’s at the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi. Cycling looks to have turned the corner, the young guys know they can’t get away with it, have seen there is a clean and healthier method and are not stupid. The older guys who are now director sportif’s and may have ‘dabbled’ in doping know that things had to change or it would be the end of professional cycling. Then Patrick Sinkewitz comes along and you have to shake your head in disbelieve.

After showing his displeasure at being beaten by Jose Serpa in the Trofeo Laigueglia on Sunday (see video below), Patrick Sinkewitz found out on Monday that he will be banned for eight years, taking in to consideration the 1 year, 3 months and 4 days suspension that he has already served voluntarily. This is Sinkewitz second doping offence and the German Anti-Doping Agency appealed the decision of the German Arbitration Tribunal for Sports to acquit Sinkewitz of a positive test for recombinant Growth Hormone in a test on February the 27th, 2011 after the GP Lugano in Switzerland. Sinkewitz had disputed the reliability of test, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) sided with German Anti-Doping agency and the eight year ban stands.

An eight year ban for a second offence and a life ban for anyone stupid to make a third misdemeanour does sound like it might do the trick though.

BPost Bank Trofee-Internationale Sluitingsprijs 2014
The last cyclo-cross of the season was held in Oostmalle, Belgium last Sunday and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) closed the 13/14 season with a solo win from Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon). After an early attack from Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) was chased down by Albert with Meeusen and Belgian champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) in tow. Nys won the half way sprint, but eventually blew-up to eventually finish 10th. Albert dropped Meeusen and built up a lead of 16 seconds with one lap to go and coasted home for the win. Pauwels meanwhile escaped the main group and soloed to third place from around the midpoint of the race. Even though Sven Nys was 10th he clinched the BPost Trofee for the ninth time.

BPost Bank Trofee-Internationale Sluitingsprijs Result:
1. Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus in 1:04:17
2. Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea at 0:07
3. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games at 0:39
4. Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Rabo-Giant at 0:55
5. Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team at 0:59
6. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Napoleon Games
7. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP – Powerplus at 1:01
8. Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink/Leontien.nl at 1:09
9. Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace at 1:15
10. Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan-AA Drink at 1:30.

All the races from Oostmalle:

‘Wild Card’ Teams for Amstel Gold Race
The Dutch WorldTour race, the Amstel Gold Race, has announced the ProContinental teams that have been invited to start the race on April the 20th. Androni Giocatolli-Venezuela, Topsport Vlaanderen-Beloise, IAM Cycling, CC Polsat Polkowice and it is believed that one more team will be announced to make up eighteen ProTour teams and five ProConti.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad & Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
The Belgian season kicks off with the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday the 1st of March, cobbles and bad weather are the usual recipe on the race that used to be called the Het Volk. If that wasn’t enough, it all happens again the next day in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Giant-Shimano at Het Nieuwsblad
The race is punctuated by cobbles and short, sharp climbs over the 198.6km route starting and finishing in Gent. Team Giant-Shimano bolstered their classics line-up for 2014, adding Dries Devenyns who lives and trains on the Flemish roads.

After a strong and fruitful period of racing and preparation, including racing in the early season French races, the team are in good shape to hit the ground running.

“All the guys lining up in Belgium have shown that the shape is there and have been working well as a team in their last races,” said coach Marc Reef. “In the Flemish races team work will be really important.

“The recon was also used to set everyone’s positions up and all the riders have been really happy with how their classics bikes feel and with the new equipment, which will give them confidence for the races.

“The testing last week got everyone reacquainted with the route and where the difficulties lie. We have a strong and experienced line-up and the goal is to come here with as many guys as possible in the final to set up Devenyns and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg .”

Giant-Shimano line-Up:
Bert De Backer (BEL), Roy Curvers (NED), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Koen De Kort (NED), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Albert Timmer (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED) & Rudi Kemna (NED).

Belkin for Het Nieuwsblad
Sep Vanmarcke looks forward to the classics opening weekend in Belgium. The Belkin Pro Cycling Team rider, supported by a committed group of team-mates, hopes to impress in his home country. Vanmarcke will lead the team with Lars Boom at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m really looking forward to this weekend,” said Vanmarcke. “Omloop and Kuurne are important races. Everyone wants to be good there. I have had a good winter and I’m happy with my form. In the Volta ao Algarve I worked for Wilco Kelderman and that was a good workout.” Vanmarcke won Omloop in 2011 and knows his way around. “The parcours is practically the same, apart from a few details, and so the race will unfold as always. The race will explode on the Taaienberg and it will be a hard and open race after that.”

Belkin line-up:
Lars Boom, Jos van Emden, Tom Leezer, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.
Sports Directors: Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven.

Europcar at the Omloop
The French team for the first Belgian Classic.

Europcar Line-up:
Bryan Coquard, Jérome Cousin, Jimmy Engoulvent, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jerome, alexandre Pichot, Bjorn Thurau, Angélo Tulik.
DS: Dominique Arnould.

The Lotto Belisol team for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad:
Lars Bak, Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, Gert Dockx, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg and Frederik Willems.

Freddy Maertens wins Omloop het Volk 1978:

OPQS to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the selection that will participate in Belgium’s opening weekend: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

OPQS had a good Omloop Het Nieuwsblad performance in 2013, as Stijn Vandenbergh made it into the breakaway. He finished 2nd in a two-up sprint.

In 2014, there is the important return of the Muur-Kapelmuur. Excluded from the previous three editions of the race, it will be passed at the 81km mark in the 69th edition. There are several short sections ranging from steep to false flat, and some are cobbled while some are on asphalt. The Wolvenberg is on asphalt, but has a max ramp of 17% in 800 meters at kilometer 145. Then there is Haaghoek at the 154 kilometer mark. The challenge at Haaghoek is the cobbles that riders must pass. The weather could add an extra challenge to the parcours.

“Omloop is first race of the season in Belgium,” Tom Boonen said. “Everyone is excited about it. It’s a race a bit different from the other Classics because it’s the first one, but also tactically the teams tend to ride it differently than how they do the other cobbled Classics. There are a lot of riders in good condition and there will be a great fight to stay in the front. But we have a good and balanced team, and we are looking forward to this race to try and get a good result. As usual the wind will be a factor. It will influence the race for sure.”

“It’s the first time this year that we hit the roads of Flanders,” Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. “It’s a really good team but it will be important to be in the final with the most riders possible. We will have a competitive team but also several other teams have good selections. There is also a chance for a few showers and it will be windy, so the weather will be important to determine what kind of race we will face.”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne takes place on Sunday, returning after its cancellation in 2013 due to snow. One of the more famous climbs of this race is the Oude Kwaremont (2.2km, max ramp of 11%). There is also the Cote du Trieu, which has several ramps of 13 percent. However, this race can be one for the bunch finale.

“We have a very good group,” Peeters continued. “Last year we didn’t do the race due to the snow, but this year there will be no problem. In general our team is on a good level. All riders are good for this kind of parcours and we are ready for all scenarios. There could be a breakaway or a small group, or even a bunch sprint. We have the possibility to put good riders in place for any situation.”

Tom Boonen (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Gert Steegmans (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED), Matteo Trentin (ITA), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (BEL), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL).

BMC Racing Team Announces Rosters For Belgian Races
The opening weekend of racing in Belgium will see the BMC Racing Team field different line-ups and separate approaches for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.

Past Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet – a top five finisher three times in the past five years – headline a roster for Saturday that includes another past top five finisher, Marcus Burghardt. Hushovd was runner-up on Stage 3 at the Tour Méditerranéen. The Norwegian national road champion said that result – and his solo breakaway on Stage 2 of the Tour du Haut Var last weekend – show he is on form. “With that in mind, I go to Belgium to race for the win,” Hushovd said. “We have a strong team, which should be present from start to end. My level is high now, but I just have to follow, and hopefully have something left for a good sprint in the end.” Van Avermaet, who was in a pair of breakaways at the Tour of Oman last week, said his two weeks in the Middle East were productive. “You have the speed in Qatar, a little bit of climbing in Oman and good weather in both,” he said. “For me, it’s the best preparation for the classics. We’ll see how it goes, but I feel I am in pretty good shape and happy with my form.” Sport Director Max Sciandri said Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne will be a chance for younger riders to show themselves, including Silvan Dillier and Sebastian Lander, both top 10 finishers on the final stage of the Tour of Qatar. “This is a good chance for those guys, plus riders like Klaas Lodewyck and Rick Zabel, to get some good experience and have their own chances,” Sciandri said.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Roster (March 1):
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Thor Hushovd (NOR), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Taylor Phinney (USA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL).

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Roster (March 2):
Marcus Burghardt (GER), Silvan Dillier (SUI), Sebastian Lander (DEN), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Danilo Wyss (SUI), Rick Zabel (GER).

Sporting Manager: Allan Peiper (AUS).
Sport Directors: Max Sciandri (ITA) & Jackson Stewart (USA).

Belkin for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Sports Director Frans Maassen feels confident going into the opening weekend. “Sep will ride Kuurne. We’ll see how he feels then. Normally, Kuurne is more of a sprinters’ race and so we will also take some fast men.” Jetse Bol, Barry Markus and Moreno Hofland – winner of the final stage of the Ruta del Sol – replace Lars Boom, Jos van Emden and Tom Leezer after Omloop.

Belkin line-up:
Jetse Bol, Moreno Hofland, Barry Markus, Bram Tankink, Maarten Tjallingii, Sep Vanmarcke, Robert Wagner and Maarten Wynants.

Sports Directors:
Frans Maassen and Nico Verhoeven.

Europcar for Kuurne
Europcar replace Jérome Cousin from the Omloop with Yohann Gene for Kuurne.

Europcar line-up:
Bryan Coquard, Jimmy Engoulvent, Yohann Gene, Tony Hurel, Vincent Jerome, Alexandre Pichot, Bjorn Thurau, Angélo Tulik.
DS: Dominique Arnould.

Lotto Belisol Team for Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne:
Lars Bak, Kris Boeckmans, Vegard Breen, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Pim Ligthart, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.

Giant-Shimano to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
This classic has a slightly less testing parcours than the previous day’s Het Nieuwsblad, however it often sees strong crosswinds split the peloton and decide the outcome of the race. Coach, Marc Reef said: “The team is more or less the same for Kuurne as it is to Het Nieuwsblad, but with the inclusion of Veelers who did a great race here last time the race was on. The weather will play a big part in the outcome of the race and we will be prepared and try to race with a cool head and as a unit.

“Nikias Arndt had a solid race in Spain last week and joins the line-up here, together with van Rensburg and Luka Mezgec we have several cards to play. Road captain, Roy Curvers will be leading the team and I’m confident we can make an impact on this race.”

Belkin line-up:
Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE), Nikias Arndt (GER), Bert De Backer (BEL), Roy Curvers (NED), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Koen De Kort (NED), Luka Mezgec (SLO), Tom Veelers (NED).
Coach: Marc Reef (NED).

Cav wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2012:

Classic Sud Ardèche & Drôme Classic

BMC: Aims To Keep Momentum Going
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois aims to carry momentum from Amaël Moinard’s victory Sunday on the final stage of the Tour du Haut Var into a pair of one-day races this weekend in France.

Ledanois said Classic Sud Ardèche on Saturday and Sunday’s Drôme Classic provide a final tune-up for the riders who will be competing soon in some of the BMC Racing Team’s key stage races. “We know these races are important to prepare for coming objectives like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and even Milan-San Remo,” Ledanois said. “I have a lot of confidence in the team that we bring to these races.” Among those joining Moinard on the roster are Cadel Evans, who was fifth overall at Haut Var, Peter Stetina – runner-up on a stage at the Tour de San Luis on the way to eighth overall – and Samuel Sánchez, who made his debut for the BMC Racing Team at Haut Var. “Samuel knows his objective race, Pays Basque, is coming and is important for him and the team,” Ledanois said. “So this will be good preparation for him.” Philippe Gilbert will mark the start of his European racing campaign after spending the past two weeks competing at the Tours of Qatar and Oman in the Middle East. The past world road champion said he is not familiar with either race but he is looking forward to them. “One-day races are my speciality,” Gilbert said. “I am always suffering in stage races, so I hope to do better in these two races in France.”

BMC Racing Team Rosters:
Classic Sud Ardèche (March 1) and Drôme Classic (March 2):
Yannick Eijssen (BEL), Cadel Evans (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ben Hermans (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Peter Stetina (USA), Larry Warbasse (USA).
Sport Director: Yvon Ledanois (FRA).

Giant-Shimano at the Classic Sud Ardèche
The route suits the attacking riders down to the ground and as such a team of all-rounders will head to the race which features no less than 11 categorised climbs.

Warren Barguil placed highest for the team here last year in 19th and he returns looking to improve on this place.

Coach, Lionel Marie said: “We have a young team here in France and everyone has a free card more or less to see what we can do. It will be a good opportunity for some of the workers in the team to have a go themselves at getting a result.

“It could go either way for this race, a reduced bunch or a small group at the finish, but we will react out on the road and see what the guys can do.”

Giant-Shimano line-up for Classic Sud Ardèche:
Warren Barguil (FRA), Lawson Craddock (USA), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Tom Peterson (USA).
Coach: Lionel Marie (FRA).

Giant-Shimano to the Drome Classic
The line-up is similar to the previous day’s race, with the addition of Cheng Ji (CHN) and Sea Keong Loh (MAL) both of whom are getting their seasons underway here in France.

The race will be another one to suit the all-rounders, based on four laps of a circuit that includes a selection of short sharp climbs, followed by a finishing loop with two testing climbs which will probably decide the outcome of the race.

Coach, Lionel Marie (FRA) said: “Much like Saturday’s race we have a young team who will all have an opportunity to have a go. It will be a good chance to see how they work together.

“It is also Sea Keong Loh’s first race for the team and it will be a nice opportunity for him to get stuck in and racing with the team. Thierry Hupond (FRA) knows most of the roads in the area and this knowledge will be useful in making a plan for the race.”

Giant-Shimano line-up for La Drome:
Warren Barguil (FRA), Thomas Damuseau (FRA), Johannes Fröhlinger (GER), Chad Haga (USA), Thierry Hupond (FRA), Cheng Ji (CHN), Sea Keong Loh (MAL), Tom Peterson (USA).
Coach: Lionel Marie (FRA).

OPQS to Classic Sud Ardèche & La Drôme Classic
OPQS has announced the selection that will participate in French races Classic Sud Ardèche and La Drôme Classic, which take place on March 1st and March 2nd. OPQS rider Gianni Meersman returns to 200km Classic Sud Ardèche after placing 6th in the 2013 edition. There are about 11 climbs to conquer in the race. The 197km La Drôme Classic features nine punchy ascents, meaning the all-rounders will be favored for such a parcours.

“Most of the guys who will take part in this race came from a training camp that the team organized in Algarve last week,” Sport Director Davide Bramati said. “Also, Michal Golas was one of the strong riders in support of Michal Kwiatkowski at Volta ao Algarve last week. Carlos Verona and Jan Bakelants are coming to this race after a training period in Spain. For Bakelants it will be a return to competition for the first time since Tour Down Under. Then we have Gianni Meersman, who was 6th last year at Classic Sud-Ardèche. He is motivated from his victory at Trofeo Platja de Muro not long ago. It was the earliest he won a race in his career. We have a good team ready for the short and steep climbs, who are ready for any race scenario, and we will do our best for good results in this pair of French races.”

Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), Jan Bakelants (BEL), Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Michal Golas (POL), Gianni Meersman (BEL), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Pieter Serry (BEL), Carlos Verona (ESP).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA).

Europcar for Classic Sud Ardèche & La Drome
Thomas Voeckler will be trying to get back to race fitness in the two French races.

Europcar line-up:
Giovanni Bernaudeau, Cyril Gautier, Maxime Mederel, Brian Nauleau (Classic Sud Ardèche), Perrig Quemeneur (Drôme Classic), Kévin Reza, Pierre Rolland, Romain Sicard, Thomas Voeckler.
DS: Ismaël Mottier.

Belkin wants to win and improve in southern France
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team will be hunting for victories in upcoming weekend’s Classic Sud Ardèche and Drôme Classic. The team will travel to France with riders who all know their way around the hilly terrain.

“We’re facing two tough races,” said Sports Director Erik Dekker. “The parcours’ are heavy, but not heavy enough for the real climbers. Our complete team knows how to cope with that. The ambition is to fight for the win and to improve. Those two are very combinable.”

The Belkin Pro Cycling Team includes newcomer Martijn Keizer, Marc Goos (broken wrist) and Paul Martens (knee), who are both returning from injuries. For the latter, the races in southern France are his first of the year. The German is happy to finally race after a long winter. “I was practically side-lined for two months,” said Martens who missed the Volta ao Algarve because of his knee. “It was a lingering injury, but the pain was never big enough to do nothing for a long period. I think, eventually, I missed fifty to sixty training hours. At the training camps I trained on my own, but it was nice to be with the team. As a professional it feels wrong to be at home all the time in the run-up to the season.”

Martens has modest personal ambitions for the Classic Sud Ardèche and the Drôme Classic. “I think the complete peloton was able to train well this winter because of the mild weather conditions. Some riders already did two or three races. For me, it’s not going to be easy to start this late, but at the moment I feel very good, although I just hope I can stay pain free.” Martens still has good hopes for the big spring races. “When you look at the classics, it’s not bad at all that I will start my season a little later. Some riders started racing in January and for them it will be hard to stay at the top of their game until April.”

Belkin team line-up:
Stef Clement, Laurens ten Dam, Marc Goos, Jonathan Hivert, Martijn Keizer, Nick van der Lijke and Paul Martens.
Sports Director: Erik Dekker and Louis Delahaije.

Classic Sud Ardèche 2013:

Tour de Langkawi February 27 to March 8

Team Colombia at Tour de Langkawi
There are new horizons to explore for Team Colombia riders, who will take part for the first time in the Tour de Langkawi, one of the most important races of the Asian cycling calendar.

For 10 days, from Thursday February 27th to Saturday March 8th, the Escarabajos will deal with 10 tough days on the Malaysian roads. The organizers have partially followed the steps of the previous editions. But the total distance has been significantly increased, with 4 stages over 200 km. Once again, the race is likely to be decided by Genting Highlands ascent, the demanding uphill finish of Stage 4.

After going on the attack at Trofeo Laigueglia, Robinson Chalapud will be in Malaysia along with Juan Pablo Valencia, Carlos Julian Quintero, Duber Quintero, Leonardo Duque and Jeffry Romero, with Sports Director Valerio Tebaldi calling the shots from the team car.

“At this time of the year, it is important to put good kilometres in the legs, and the Malaysian race will provide a good chance to do that”, Tebaldi explained. “This is a 10-day stage race and requires good recovery, I am confident it will prove a very good test for what’s next.”

During the Tour de Langkawi, from Wednesday February 26th to Sunday March 2nd, Colombian pistards Juan Esteban Arango and Edwin Avila will be racing for medals at the Track World Championship in Calì’s velodrome in their home Country, Colombia.

Colombia line-up:
Robinson Chalapud, Leonardo Duque, Carlos Julian Quintero, Duber Quintero, Jeffry Romero, Juan Pablo Valencia
Sports Director: Valerio Tebaldi.

Katusha Team debuts at the Tour de Langkawi
This Thursday, on February 27th the Russian WorldTour team Katusha will make its debut at the prestigious 2.HC stage race of the UCI Asia Tour – Le Tour de Langkawi.

The Katusha team’s line-up is:
Pavel Brutt, Marco Haller, Petr Ignatenko, Pavel Kochetkov, Aleksandr Porsev and Alexander Rybakov.
The team will be directed by Viacheslav Ekimov.

Tinkoff-Saxo Takes Young Team to Langkawi
Thursday, February 27th our boys are taking on the Malaysian stage race, Tour de Langkawi with a short stage over 101 kilometres followed by nine other stages with a total of 1507 kilometres without an individual time trial. The race starts off with three flat stages before the field is challenged with the uphill finish in stage 4. The stages get longer each day before the final stage to Kuala Terengganu.

Tinkoff-Saxo will participate with a young squad: Jay McCarthy, Jesper Hansen, Michael Kolar, Michael Valgren, Pawel Poljanski while Evgeny Petrov is the most experienced rider in the line-up.

The young Danish climber, Jesper Hansen is looking forward to especially stage 4: “It’s my first race of the season and I’m very excited about getting the opportunity to make a result of my own and my biggest chance is obviously on the uphill finish on stage four. If I can make a good result there, I hope for an overall top 10 result. But then again, this is my rookie year and won’t necessarily be disappointed with less. I know I have a lot to learn and I’m also here to gain experience,” says the 23-year-old debutant. Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Tristan Hoffman will be following his riders closely on the roads in Malaysia.

Le Tour de Langkawi 2014 Montage Presentation:

Vuelta a Murcia
This coming Saturday the XXXIV edition of the Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia will start with 12 teams to race over 191 kilometres. The organization has put together the race with twelve international formations led by Movistar, the only World Tour team with ProContinental teams; Caja Rural, Cofidis, NetApp-Endura and CCC Polsat. Rounding out the list of participants are Continental teams; Active Jet (Poland), Team Ecuador (Ecuador), Keith-Mobel (Serbia), Euskadi & Burgos (Spain), Louletano (Portugal), plus the Spanish National Elite team and Under 23’s.

Among the list of riders are the last two winners: Dani Navarro and Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, the only rider to win three editions of the race.

The race will start from the premises of the Beri Fruit Company in Beniel, and finishes in the Alto del Castillo de Lorca around 3 pm, after covering the 191 Kilometres. A complicated route, with the climb to Alto del Cabeza de la Plata (3rd Cat), followed by the traditional climb in the Sierra Espuña with the Alto de Espuña (1st Cat) and Collado Bemejo (1st Cat). The Alto del Castillo de Lorca (3rd Cat) will probably decide the winner, as happened last season. A race for strong and capable riders in the mountains, where the sprinters have few options for victory.

Valverde is not the only local Murciano in this edition, as his Movistar team mate; José Joaquín Rojas and Luis Leon Sanchez & Ruben Fernandez of Caja Rural-Seguros RGA also ride.

Oliver Zaugg to Undergo Surgery in March
On the final stage of Tour of Dubai, Oliver Zaugg crashed and broke his wrist after a collision with a car as he was returning to the field after a wheel change. Now, it’s been 14 days and we had a little chat with Oliver to hear how he’s coming along:

“Well, at the moment, it’s only possible for me to do some fitness workout, long walks and a little bit of training on the rollers and I see an ergo therapist three times a week. Mid March I’m undergoing minor surgery again to have the screw from my hand removed. That also means that I probably won’t be able to race again before the end of April. Of course, it’s frustrating to start the season like this but the important thing now is to focus on the things I can do to recover as fast as possible,” says Oliver from his home in Switzerland.

Last spring, Oliver had the misfortune of breaking his finger, which resulted in a similar setback in his preparations. The skilful climber’s biggest win was in 2011 where he won the prestigious Tour of Lombardy. He was meant to play a key role in the Ardennes Classic campaign.

Belkin finds opportunity in Martijn Keizer
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team contracted a new rider: Martijn Keizer. The 25-year-old Dutchman had a contract with Belgian continental outfit Veranclassic-Doltcini, where he was allowed to leave if a WorldTour team approached him.

“This is a real outcome for us as well as for Martijn,” said Sports Director Nico Verhoeven of the Belkin Pro Cycling Team. “It’s still fairly early in the season, but we already noticed that, due to our busy racing schedule, we could use another rider. In Martijn we found a very strong rider who wanted to help us out. We already considered him last year, but back then we opted for others.”

Keizer started twice in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and managed to finish on all four occasions. In 2011, he finished third in the Dutch national time trial championships. “Martijn has proven himself in big WorldTour races,” explained Verhoeven. “He will be a valuable rider for our team. He will be a good help for our team leaders on the smaller mountains and, moreover, he will add to the team in team time trials with his time trial skills. Martijn fits well into our team and the way we operate”

Keizer is very pleased with the chance the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM gives him. “This is a great opportunity and super cool,” the Dutchman stated. “After Vacansoleil-DCM folded, I thought about retiring. In the end, I decided to become an amateur and give my all for one year in order to return to the pro ranks. I didn’t expect to make it back this quick. I look forward to helping the team this year.”

Ideally, Keizer will make his debut for the Belkin Pro Cycling TEAM in this weekend’s Classic Sud Ardèche and the Drôme Classic.
Thanks to the Belkin Team.

MartijnKeizer_signs with Team Belkin

Matti Breschel crashed after final stage in Oman
Tinkoff-Saxo Dane, Matti Breschel had just finished the final stage of Tour of Oman, when he crashed on his way back to his hotel. Matti here explains what happened:

“After the stage, we were riding back to our hotel and on a descent when I was going 70 kilometres an hour, a mattress flew into my front wheel and brought the bike to a standstill. I hit the asphalt pretty hard and lost a lot of skin on my legs and face and the wound on my knee had to be stitched up. It’s still too early to say but I trust it doesn’t influence my preparations for the classic campaign and I’ll stick to my regular training program. I’m not concerned at this moment,” he says.

Matti’s next race will be Paris-Nice.


Stephen Roche in the Hall of Fame of the Giro d’Italia
Tribute to the Irish Champion who joins Merckx and Gimondi in this tribute

Stephen Roche with Giro d’Italia ‘Trofeo Senza Fine’.

Press Release: Stephen Roche has entered into the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame. At the Hotel Causeway in Northern Ireland, the 1987 Giro d’Italia winner today joined Eddy Merckx and Felice Gimondi, who were awarded the prestigious accolade, in 2012 and 2013 respectively. This tribute to the Irish Champion coincides with the start of the Giro d’Italia scheduled for Friday May 9th 2014 from the Isle of Ireland – and ends in Trieste, Sunday June 1st 2014).

Stephen Roche, born in Dublin November 28th, 1959, was a professional cyclist from 1981 to 1993.

In 1987, in addition to the Giro d’Italia, Roche won the Tour de France and the Road World Championships to become only the second rider in history to win the Giro, Tour and the World in the same year after Eddy Merckx in 1974.

Roche was also the fifth cyclist who won the Giro and Tour in the same year, after Coppi, Merckx , Hinault and Anquetil – a select group which has subsequently been joined by Indurain and Pantani.

Stephen Roche: “I am very honored by this award because the Giro d’Italia always has a special place in my heart.
“The 1987 Giro was a big victory and it opened up that year’s streak of magic [Giro, Tour and Worlds]. According to the press, only Visentini could be the Carrera captain for the Giro, but in reality, my achievements from the start of that season gave me the credentials to get a good result myself. It was really a great success – for the first time I was elevated to the rank of cycling champion.

“With the Giro d’Italia Grande Partenza in Ireland next May, it makes me even more proud of this great honour.”

From left: Paolo Bellino, Arlene Foster, Stephen Roche.

Arlene Foster, Ireland’s Minister of Trade and Tourism, spoke today in recognition of Roche’s special award. She was joined by Paolo Bellino, the general manager of RCS Sport, Davide Cassani, the head coach of the Italian cycling national coach, and the editor in chief of La Gazzetta dello Sport, Pier Bergonzi.

Arlene Foster: “In addition to having the Giro d’Italia Start from here next May, we are very honoured to have the opportunity to organise the Giro d’Italia Hall of Fame. It’s a recognition of the riders who have created cycling history and I think Stephen Roche fully justifies his place in this category.”

“Hosting the next “Grande Partenza” of the Giro gives us the chance not only to attend one of the most important sports events in the world, but will also give us the opportunity us to show off our incredible scenery, demonstrating that Northern Ireland really is the home of great events.”

Davide Cassani: “I thank the organisers for inviting me to take part in this important event. As most of you know, I rode with Stephen Roche and I think he was one of the smarter riders I have ever known, very capable of managing his own efforts.

“I learned a lot from Stephen when he was my captain in the Carrera team. I believe that his entry into the Hall of Fame of the Giro d’Italia is a fully deserved recognition.”

Paolo Bellino: “This is the third edition of the Hall of Fame of the Giro d’Italia and it’s the first time this ceremony has been celebrated abroad. I really want to thank Northern Ireland Tourism for hosting us in this fantastic location at the Causeway Coast and thank Minister Foster for having honoured us with her presence here today.

“Our aim now is to continue to do our best work together to organise a great start to the Giro next May.”

Video dedicated to Stephen Roche:

Testing Equipment for the Spring Classics with Giant-Shimano
Last week the Giant-Shimano team was in Flanders on the routes of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the Tour of Flanders, they tested their Giant bikes with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 components. Bert De Backer talks you through the two-days of training and testing in Belgium.


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