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EuroTrash Thursday!

The most important early season stage races; Paris-Nice & Tirreno-Adriatico are well under way and we have the results, rider quotes and video. Top Story is the saving of the GP Indurain and in other cycling news: non-sign on of riders, Wild Cards for Amstel, Belkin for Drenthe, MTN in Suisse, women’s racing on TV and the Sky v’s Orica-GreenEdge battle begins. Some good retro video too…coffee?

TOP STORY: GP Indurain to Go Ahead
The Grand Prix Miguel Indurain will now be held on April the 5th, thanks to a private sponsor who has helped to cover the costs of the race for the Club Ciclista Estella, the race organizer. We reported in EuroTrash Monday that the Navarran race was under threat due to the local government not paying the promised amount.

The president of CC Estella, David Echávarri confirmed to BiciCiclismo that the GP Indurain will go ahead in 2014, after announcing its suspension last week. After an alarm call a private company eventually provided the necessary economic boost for the race to be held. More details will be released at a press conference next week.
Echávarri confirmed that a private sponsor, not the Government of Navarra as expected, has saved the race which has run continuously since 1951, except in 1984 and 1986. “We can cover the core budget, if you have a bit more money; you are welcome,” says Echávarri, “for more equipment and better infrastructure.” Participation today is expected to be 10-12 teams and the hope is to have four WorldTour teams.

In this regard the Government of Navarra, they are expected to pay the money they had originally pledged, which should be over €10,000, although €25,000 was initially promised by the city of Estella. At least the GP Indurain will not disappear, for this year anyway.

Miguel Indurain; the legend:

Paris-Nice 2014
Moreno Hofland dashed to an impressive victory on Monday in Stage 2 of Paris-Nice thanks to an excellent lead-out from his Belkin team-mates. Belkin positioned the 22-year-old Dutchman perfectly going into a late right-hander in the 205 kilometre stage from Rambouillet to Saint-Georges-sur-Baulche, and Hofland had the legs to make a long sprint to snag victory ahead of John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano. Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) crossed the line third to defend the leader’s jersey in the eight-day French race.

“It’s a great victory. The team rode great today. The stage was hectic again, because there were some crosswinds. We all tried to be in the front at the dangerous points,” a happy Hofland said after the podium ceremony. “I wanted to surprise the bunch, so I made a long sprint. I jumped with 250 metres to go, and no one came around me. I am so happy, because this is a big race. This is Paris-Nice!”

Belkin rode as a unit through some swirling crosswinds to set up Hofland for a chance at the win. A two-man breakaway was reeled in over undulating terrain in the closing hour of racing to set up the mass sprint. Hofland, second in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last weekend, surprised the favourites to confirm his impressive start of just his second pro season.

“Lars Boom crashed, which was a pity because he was supposed to be my lead-out man, so we had to improvise,” Hofland said. “With 2km to go, I was so far back I thought I had no chance. I found an opening on the left, and then Jos [Van Emden] took me to the front, and did such a great job dropping me off on the wheel of Degenkolb. Then I was able to make my sprint.”

Hofland’s victory carries on a family tradition of sorts. His father, Peter, rode to fifth in a stage during the 1984 Paris-Nice while riding for the Dutch amateur team. “My dad was telling me about his race in Paris-Nice just last week. Now I am better than he is. That’s in the pocket,” Hofland said. “After finishing second at Kuurne, now to win at Paris-Nice, I just cannot believe it. It’s very special to win a stage in this race.”

There was a spate of bad luck when team captain Lars Boom crashed with about 10km to go. The former cyclo-cross world champion managed to finish the stage, but he went to hospital with a team doctor after crossing the finish line. “We don’t know if there is anything wrong yet. He’s in the hospital to check it out, but he hurt his elbow and wrist,” Belkin sport director Merijn Zeeman said. “It’s a real pity. We hope he’s OK, because his important classics season is coming up.”

“Another good performance by the team in supporting Rui and in avoiding the troubles that the wind and the course could cause,” Lampre-Merida sport director Matxin explained. “We’re really sorry for the crash of Wackermann, because he has good fitness and he would have obtained another interesting result.”

Paris-Nice Stage 2 Result:
1. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin in 4:53:46
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar
7. Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Seche Environnement
8. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol
9. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
10. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar.

Paris-Nice Overall After Stage 2:
1. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr in 8:46:43
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:02
3. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin at 0:04
4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:13
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:14
6. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
8. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
10. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge.

Stage 2:

John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), wearing the green jersey of sprint leader has finally taken a stage victory at Paris – Nice after finishing second for the past two days.

The Team Giant-Shimano train controlled the finish of Stage 3 perfectly as the peloton raced around the finishing circuit on the Nevers Magny-Cours motor circuit, and set John up perfectly to finish off the job in the final 200m. Once John opened up his sprint the stage win never looked in doubt, as he powered away on his Giant Propel Advanced SL. As a result of the stage win, John moves into the overall race lead and will wear the yellow jersey on tomorrow’s fourth stage. Like the two previous stages, it was a small breakaway that took to the front of the race and spent the majority of the stage ahead of the peloton. Three riders forged a solid lead but it never looked like they would stay away with the fast, flat finish that awaited the peloton.

Their gap gradually tumbled and in the final 10km one rider pulled clear in a valiant effort to stay clear. Behind him the chase was in full force as all different teams moved towards the front to raise the pace and keep the protected riders out of trouble.

The race finally came back together with 3km to go as the Team Giant-Shimano train took control of the head of the peloton. Coming into the final bend, John peeled off the wheel and unleashed his finishing sprint, and held off his challengers, punching his arms in the air and taking a well deserved victory, his first WorldTour win of the season.

Giant-Shimano’s John Degenkolb after his stage win: “That was unbelievable, everything worked out perfectly today. We tried twice already on the first two stages but each time it didn’t quite work out, but today it was spot on. We kept our nerve in the last few kilometres, taking control on the race circuit. We weren’t worried that the race wouldn’t come back together so we waited until the final few kilometres to hit it hard.”

“I’m really happy that I can finally thank my teammates with this win after giving me complete support over the past few days.”

Tinkoff-Saxo’s Nikolay Trusov was in the mix but finished outside the top-10. DS, Fabrizio Guidi said: “Our main focus was on Rafal in order to keep him out of trouble and naturally to support Nikolay (Trusov) in the sprint and the boys did a good job. Nikolay maintained 8th overall and I’m sure we’ll have more obvious opportunities in the days to come where we move into a bit more hilly terrain.”

Paris-Nice Stage 3 Result:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 4:27:26
2. Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
4. Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana
5. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
7. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr
8. Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC
9. Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
10. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin.

Paris-Nice Overall After Stage 3:
1. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano in 13:14:01
2. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) FDJ.fr at 0:08
3. Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin at 0:12
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 0:18
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 0:21
6. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Europcar at 0:22
7. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
8. Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
9. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale.

Stage 3:

Tom-Jelte Slagter (Garmin-Sharp) won Stage 4 and Geraint Thomas (Sky) took the leader’s jersey, as Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) crossed the line third just five seconds back. “I came to the front with the final kilometre, and I tried to attack. I came close to the front, but they sprinted and I could not catch them,” Kelderman said. “I felt good on the climbs, so that’s good for the coming days.”

An early breakaway of four riders, Valerio Agnoli (Astana), PerrigQuemeneur (Europcar), Didier (Trek) and Jesus Herrada Lopez (Movistar) moved up the road after 18 kilometres, but was neutralized late in the 201.5km stage from Nevers to Belleville, with four short but steep climbs that saw the sprinters lose contact with the leaders. “We knew today was the first real test for the GC, and Wilco is our leader,” said Belkin Sports Director Merijn Zeeman. “The team did a great job positioning him at the front for the final climb. Wilco is in fantastic shape, and you could see that on the climb when he stayed with the leaders.”

Kelderman was able to follow the elite group of favourites over the day final steep climb, and then attacked out of the final kilometre to claim third. “The bonus seconds for GC is also very important. This Paris-Nice course, it’s very important for the placings, because there are no mountain-top finishes,” Kelderman said. “I think I can do well here. Now it’s up to me for the GC. Moreno did really well until now. The spirit is very good on the team.”

Geraint Thomas moved ahead of the previous leader; John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) by only 3 seconds. Thomas said after the finish: “Unbelievable. Friday before the race started, I was told I was going to lead the team, which was big. Paris-Nice is one of the biggest stage races in the world behind the Tour and the Giro. To wear the jersey is great, I’m really happy. Coming here I knew I was going well, and was going to play a key role to help Richie,” said Thomas. “I knew I’d be thereabouts anyway. With him moving to Tirreno, it was a great opportunity for me, and like I said, it’s unbelievable. It’s great.”

Unfortunately, Tinkoff-Saxo’s Matti Breschel abandoned the race today due to injuries and pain due to his crash in Tour of Oman. “Matti has done three stages in high pace and his rhythm on the bike is good but the pain in his hand has grown worse and I think it would be wiser to abandon the race at this moment. The race kilometers here would have been good for his form but he has to be able to handle his bike as well so he’s going home to get some training done instead and we can only hope for a speedy recovery,” commented Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Fabrizio Guidi after the stage.

Paris-Nice Overall Stage 4 Result:
1. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp 5:00:09
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky
3. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 0:05
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr
7. Peter Velits (Svk) BMC
8. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar
9. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
10. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale

Paris-Nice Overall After Stage 4:
1. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky in 18:14:25
2. John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano at 0:03
3. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 0:04
4. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar at 0:08
5. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:12
6. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin at 0:15
7. Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 0:17
8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 0:19
9. Cyril Gautier (Fra) Europcar
10. Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr.

Stage 4:

Tirreno-Adriatico 2014
Two-time UCI World TTT Champion Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team powered to victory by an impressive 11″ seconds on the flat, 18.5km parcours of the Tirreno-Adriatico team time trial Stage 1 on Wednesday. This is the second straight year the team has won the team time trial stage.

Mark Cavendish took over on the front after Tony Martin in the final meters, helping to drag the team along the line as they beat Orica-GreenEdge and their previous best time of 20’24” (54.411km/h average speed) with an average speed of 54.905 kilometres per hour. Movistar was 3rd, 18″ back.

As a result of the win, Cavendish put on the Maglia Azzurra (blue jersey) as the race leader. Kwiatkowski now wears the Maglia Blanca (white jersey) for best young rider.

OPQS will defend the leader’s jersey at 166km Stage two, from San Vincenzo to Cascina, on Thursday. The earlier parts of the parcours are undulating, but the profile goes flat after 108.2, which leaves the possibility of a bunch sprint finale.

“To be fair, we went fast, we went hard, but the faster you go in the team time trial the easier it feels,” Cavendish said. “We were really smooth with the pace the whole way. You almost feel like you didn’t go fast enough when it’s like that. The team time trials where we’ve normally felt the best are when we win by a lot. We really feel OK at the end. We did the course many times yesterday and the day before. We knew every corner, we knew exactly where we had to go, and we knew our form. I’m really happy. We have a very strong, dedicated team. Everybody was nervous. Alessandro Petacchi, in his 20 years as a professional, this is his first team time trial. So he was nervous coming into this. But for me, we have the fastest bike in the peloton with the Specialized Shiv. It’s really fast. The work we do as well is not just any kind of work to prepare for our time trials during the season. Specialized puts the bike in their own wind tunnel with every rider. Every rider is as aerodynamic as they can be, individually. With the aerodynamics we have the fastest bikes around. We also have a super committed team. Things like that really add up. It was really nice to get this win for the whole team and we can celebrate today.”

“This is our first World Tour race of the year, and the team is in good shape. Even before today’s stage, I was excited about this TTT the way I haven’t been for a while. The team time trial is very special because all 8 riders need to be in on form on the same day. We rode the circuit several times over the past few days. We knew every corner. We were smooth and I felt confident. We got everything right, and when you get everything right, it feels easier. Tony [Martin] did half the race alone. Kwiatkowski took big pulls, and everyone else just did what they could to make the team go as fast as possible”

“When we turned left onto the straight road after the descent, we put the power down and my chain came off and my foot came out at 50 kph. Tony [Martin] was behind me, and he reached out and touched my back. It didn’t make us go any faster, it was really just to stop crashing, just to stop one of us falling off the bike. We spoke before the stage about who should cross the line first. There’s a tactic behind it. We have to make the team go as fast as possible. There were options, but if it makes the team faster or slower, we have to change. If Tony was behind, I was going to cross the line first. It’s the best thing in the world to be on the podium all together to celebrate. I’m excited to start this Tirreno-Adriatico with this team. I’m lucky to have Renshaw and Petacchi as my last men, two of the most experienced boys in the sprints. We have a great team all round. We want to win in the team time trial, the sprints, the mountains, and the general classification. Kwiatkowski is in great form. It’s great to wear the Maglia Azzurra again and I’ll try to win some sprints in the next few days, even if Kittel is here. He is strong, and has a strong team. If he has any weakness, it’s that he’s not so aerodynamic as me – but that his only weakness.”

“I think we, at minimum, have the same quality team as last year,” UCI World TT Champion Tony Martin said. “For sure we wanted to win. On paper we had the strongest guys, we had the perfect preparation for the course as we were able to pass through it multiple times at race speed. So, the preparation was perfect and with the team being so strong and so motivated, it was actually an easy day. Not easy as in we weren’t suffering, but we were just so focused in the head we were basically calm this morning. We stuck to the plan. Actually I think we did almost exactly the same performance as we did in training. We just went a bit faster. Then, we have for sure the fastest bike in the Specialized Shiv. On top of that we had the correct order because it is also important you do not want to have too much difference in the speed between the strongest guys and the others. We had a really good tempo, a good average speed. It was really nice. I was never scared we could lose the race. I had a good feeling. As for me, the next steps are to be useful for the team and then do my best for a top result in the individual time trial. I hope I can play a good role, especially in the final stages, and for sure I want to go for my own result on the last day here.”

Tinkoff-Saxo DS, Philippe Mauduit: “Obviously, we expected a good result from the boys and I think this is a good result even though we didn’t take the win. Omega-Pharma and Orica are specialists in this discipline and we finished ahead of our main opponent here, Richie Porte. I think we’ve created a solid position before entering the mountains. However, we now have to focus on tomorrow’s sprinter stage and make sure Alberto is protected all the way.”

Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo): “We have given everything we had,” Contador today made a positive assessment of Tinkoff-Saxo in the team time trial, especially the performance of all his teammates. “I’m happy with the team, we have given everything we had,” he said. He also acknowledged that he did not expect to concede so much time to the winners. “It is true that we have conceded a little more than we’d like, especially with Omega, which has a rider who is in a state of incredible form, Kwiatowski, and also Rigoberto Uran for the general classification, but is also true that we could take differences over other teams and therefore, except for Omega, the differences have been pretty good.” Alberto added: “The Tirreno starts now and we have to go day by day. It’s true that 24 seconds is enough, but we’ll see what we can achieve. I’m happy with my sensations, they are pretty good despite it being a completely flat time trial and that’s most important.”

Tirreno-Adriatico Stage 1 Result:
1. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 20:13
2. Orica-Greenedge at 0:11
3. Movistar at 0:18
4. Tinkoff-Saxo at 0:24
5. Cannondale at 0:26
6. Sky at 0:27
7. Lotto Belisol at 0:28
8. Trek at 0:36
9. Belkin at 0:37
10. FDJ.fr at 0:43.

Tirreno-Adriatico Overall After Stage 1:
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step in 20:13
2. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
3. Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
5. Wouter Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:02
7. Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step at 0:03
8. Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-Greenedge at 0:11
9. Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-Greenedge
10. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-Greenedge.

The complete stage 1:

Late or No Sign on at Paris-Nice
No less than 28 riders did not sign on at the start of the second stage of Paris-Nice in Rambouillet and “more than 150” rushed to sign at the last minute, “disrespectful”, is how the race organization described the riders actions.

The culprits who did not sign on were: 6 from Tinkoff-Saxo, 5 from Belkin and Team Sky, 3 from IAM Cycling and Lampre-Merida, 2 Cofidis and Movistar and 1 from Garmin-Sharp and Lotto Belisol, all teams have eight riders. “The situation experienced this morning on the podium in Rambouillet is not acceptable. Over 150 riders came to the sign on within 10 minutes from the end. This is a total lack of respect for our host communities, the public and the media,” said the race direction.

The race organisers had decided to have a presentation on Tuesday, team by team, at the start in Toucy from 10:20 until 11:15 (departure is neutralized till 11:30) starting with the teams with the most riders not signed. “For any team or rider who fails to comply with these instructions, the law will be enforced,” said the organisers.

Two More ‘Wild Card’ Teams for Amstel
Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Bardiani-CSF will join Androni-Giocatolli, Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, IAM Cycling and CCC Polsat in this year’s Amstel Gold Race on April the 20th in Holland. Twenty-four teams will line up, the six ‘Wild Cards’ and the eighteen WorldTour teams.

Amstel Gold Race 1982 and how to ride on a front puncture:

Bos the Man for Belkin in Drenthe
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team head for the Drenthe double header supporting an in form Theo Bos. Having racked up four sprint victories in the Tour of Langkawi, Bos will return to the cooler climate of northern Europe hoping for further victories in the Ronde van Drenthe and Dwars door Drenthe this coming weekend.

An Open Race
Sports Director Frans Maassen feels that each race has its different challenges but that Belkin has a strong line up to take on any challenge. “The two races are slightly different but weather will be the key especially on Saturday in the Ronde. We have a lot of riders returning from Langkawi where we’ve had really good results so we are going to approach the Ronde with an open mind,” commented Maassen, “there are also six times up the short climb to negotiate but with a strong team like ours we can take advantage of a lot of different situations as the race unfolds.”

However Maassen sees a more straightforward situation for Sunday’s race. “For Dwars door Drenthe we have a good chance of a bunch sprint which is perfect for us with Theo on such good form. There are only 3 climbs and the final one is further from the finish than in the Ronde. The team is good and they will all work together for a result.”

Local Knowledge
One man who knows a thing or two about what the team will face is Belkin’s latest recruit Martijn Keizer. Living less than 25km from the finish of the Ronde he trains regularly over the route and knows the course intimately. He’s convinced that he is part of a great team, one in which he can play a role.

“I think I can do a good job for the team. I can go with a break or I can chase them down for Theo, whatever is needed because we have a strong team and can do very well here. We are ready for the fight.” Keizer, who joined the team this year is well aware that the outcome of the race could hinge on the weather. “If it’s sunny with little wind there can be a bunch sprint in both which of course is good for Theo. They are pretty flat, open races but if the weather is bad it could be just a small group in the final and for that we have a very good team also.”

The team will head to Drenthe for the Ronde van Drenthe on Saturday 15th March followed by Dwars door Drenthe on Sunday 16th March.

Belkin line-up:
Jack Bobridge, Theo Bos, Graeme Brown, Rick Flens, Nick van der Lijke, Barry Markus, Dennis van Winden and Martijn Keizer.
Sports Director: Frans Maassen.

The Ronde van Drenthe 2013:

Team MTN-Qhubeka will start the 78th Tour de Suisse
Press Release: Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will be on the starting line of the 2014 Tour de Suisse as the first South African registered cycling team to take part in the event. This is a fantastic wild card invitation to another World Tour stage race, taking place from the 14th to the 22nd of June.

“Our World Tour program keeps growing and shows the hard work the team put in last year is paying off. We have had some fantastic results recently in stage races with our African and South African riders and to be able to race in a World Tour stage race as iconic as the Tour de Suisse is huge. Many teams use the Tour de Suisse as a final preparation race for the Tour de France and so for Africa to be a part of this race is just a massive opportunity. Linus Gerdemann will lead the team in this event, a race he has participated in 6 times previously and where he won his first race as a professional cyclist. I want to thank our sponsors and all our supporters for pushing us to new heights and wanting to see us compete in the World Tour cycling events,” said Douglas Ryder Team Principal.

Linus Gerdemann is excited to see his new team in his favourite race, “the Tour de Suisse is my most favourite race of all races, it is incredibly well organised and races on the most beautiful terrain. It is also where I won my first professional race so it will always be a special race for me. Our team is very well suited for this race and we will work hard to do a good result there.”

The Tour de Suisse is one of the most important stage races in world cycling and Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is grateful to the organisers for the confidence they have shown in our team. Each World Tour race we are invited to is an opportunity to showcase the cycling talent from the African continent and so naturally, the Tour de Suisse will be a highlight of our season where we will look to be a protagonist in the race.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will be joined by two other wild card teams, the Swiss Professional Continental Team IAM Cycling and the Polish team CCC Polsat Polkowice.

Photo: MTN-Qhubeka team.

Tinkoff-Saxo signs promising Colombian climber
Tinkoff-Saxo gears up with even more firepower for the mountains. Edward Beltran, 24-year old Colombian with a real talent for climbing, has signed a two-year contract with Tinkoff-Saxo. Prior to the signing, Bjarne Riis and the team management tested the young Colombian, and the results were impressing.

Edward Alexander Beltran Suarez has signed a two-year neo-pro contract with Tinkoff-Saxo. The Colombian rider from Tunja, Boyaca is a natural born climber. For that reason, Tinkoff-Saxo has signed the grimpeur to bolster the team in the mountainous races.

“I am very excited about Edward joining the team. We have tested him and looked at his files, and he’s very capable on the long climbs. The competition in Colombia is fierce, and Edward is among the best of them, so naturally we expect him to do great as he further develops by competing in the WorldTour,” explains Team Manager Bjarne Riis and continues: “We sealed the deal with him Saturday after Strade Bianche, where he joined us to meet and great his new teammates. It’s always a good feeling to sign with a young rider. I could really see the joy in his eyes. He was very proud.”

Full gas from the start
Edward Beltran has raced for Nankang – Fondriest, an Italian talent team of Tinkoff-Saxo since the start of 2014. And after a dedicated effort and promising test, he has made the move to the WorldTour. “I am very happy and proud to be at Tinkoff-Saxo. I have worked towards this for a long time, and for me this is the culmination of a life-long dream,” says Beltran after the official post-signature handshake with Bjarne Riis.

Having raced since the age of 10, Edward Beltran has spent most of his life riding the tough climbs of the Andes mountains. He’s at his best on the long steep climbs where tolerance for suffering and endurance pays off. “I am a pure climber, so for me helping the team in the mountainous races is my main goal. I love cycling because it’s just like the life I’ve lived. I got to be tough and give it my best even though I’ll encounter many challenges.

Coming out of the starting block as the newest addition to Tinkoff-Saxo, the young Colombian want’s to show his capabilities from the very first race. “I want to pay the team back with good results from the start. I fell strong, fresh and motivated, and as soon as I find myself in the right terrain, I will try to either help my captain or go for the win. I have momentum now and I want to use it to benefit the team,” Edward adds.

Edward Beltran is expected to start in his first race as a Tinkoff-Saxo rider at Critérium International.

Photo: Tinkoff-Saxo team.

Enhanced Broadcast Coverage for 2014 UCI Women Road World Cup
Press Release: In an unprecedented development for women’s cycling, all nine races in the UCI Women Road World Cup will be broadcast to cycling fans worldwide in 2014.

The packages, produced by UK-based VSquared TV Limited, have already attracted high profile takers such as the BBC (United Kingdom), RAI Sports (Italy), NOS (the Netherlands) and Canal+ (France) and positive discussions are ongoing with a range of other broadcasters across the globe. Coverage will also be available for the internet, including on the UCI YouTube channel.

On March 15th, fans around the world will be able to tune in on the evening of the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe for a news roundup of the day’s racing action. The same goes for the following eight World Cup rounds, all of which will be the subject of separate news roundups and highlights packages. In addition, throughout the season six features will be made about women involved in high level cycling. The aim of the features is to reveal the stories behind the athletes so that the public can relate to the stars of women’s cycling.

In welcoming this important step to increase the visibility of women’s cycling, UCI President Brian Cookson praised the organisers of the nine rounds of the 2014 UCI Women Road World Cup: “We are extremely fortunate to have the support of the race organisers for this initiative,” said Mr Cookson. “Their dedication and incredible work has already had a large part to play in the growing success and popularity of women’s cycling. By staging exciting and high-level events, they are improving its image and generating more interest from the fans.”

He added: “This is an exciting and positive year for women’s cycling. With the launch in 2014 of La Course by Le Tour de France on the last day of the Tour de France and now this increased visibility of our leading professional women’s cycling series, it is clear that real momentum is building.”

The increased television coverage of women’s cycling comes on the heels of other initiatives introduced to develop women’s cycling since the election of Brian Cookson to the Presidency of the UCI last September. As well as creating the Women’s Commission, the UCI President has appointed at least one woman to all the other UCI Commissions.

The UCI Women Road World Cup kicks off in the Netherlands on March 15 with Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe and will finish with the GP de Plouay-Bretagne in France on August 30th. More details of the World Cup and a trailer of the series are available on the UCI website.

Team Sky & Orica-GreenEDGE launch YouTube Battle Series
Team Sky and Orica-GreenEDGE – two of the world’s leading professional cycling teams – have joined forces to produce a series of fun and engaging YouTube ‘Battle’ videos.

All five episodes of the #SKYvOGE series were filmed during the 2014 Tour Down Under and will be released on a fortnightly basis from Monday 10 March.

The opening episode sees the two teams contest a comical game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard, reigning Paris-Nice champion Richie Porte, and two-time Olympic gold medallist Geraint Thomas in action for Team Sky.

Future episodes are currently being kept tightly under wraps, but Team Sky’s Digital Manager Nick Howes was able to shed some light on how the Battle Series came about.

He said: “The goal of the Battle Series was to show another side to our team away from the racing. Our fans don’t often get to see that side to us because once the races start everyone is so professional. There are some big characters in Team Sky – both riders and staff members – and that really comes through in the Battles.

“It was great to work with Orica-GreenEDGE and have a bit of fun. Four of the five episodes feature the riders, but we also wanted to get our staff involved and there’s a fantastic Battle coming up with our carers.

“To our knowledge, there’s never been anything like this done before with two high-profile sports teams working in collaboration, so it’s been nice to break some new ground. The best-of-five format was chosen because it will produce a clear winner, and if the series is well received, we’ll certainly look to do some more in the future.”

The interest surrounding the series has been building since the beginning of last week when a Battle Series teaser video was released last Thursday ahead of today’s launch.

Let the Battles begin… Round 1!
Here it is on ‘Team Sky’s official YouTube Channel’:


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