Lots of cyclo-cross for Christmas – Reports and video from Essen and Herentals. 109 year-old Robert Marchand having a hard time – TOP STORY. Other cycling news: Wout van Aert on INEOS Grenadiers, Biniam Ghirmay best African rider of 2020, Nairo Quintana and Egan Bernal recovery, Richard Plugge thinks it’s time for change, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux part of the WorldTour. Race news from the Tour Down Under and la Vuelta a España. Team news from Gazprom-RusVelo, Trinity Racing, Bahrain Victorious, B&B Hotels p/b KTM and DSM. Contract news: Ahmed Madan, Simon Carr, August Jensen and Esmée Peperkamp. Rider news from Katie Compton, Luke Rowe and Martí Vigo del Arco. Video Merry Christmas from the INEOS Grenadiers and UAE Team Emirates Tour episode 4. Happy EUROTRASH holidays!
TOP STORY: At 109 years old, Robert Marchand challenges Covid: “Those who play sports clutter up hospitals less”
On November 26, as always, Robert Marchand celebrated his birthday on a bicycle, but this time, for his 109th birthday, it was on an exercise bike, wrote Jean-Paul Savart, AIPS EC Member.Like all French people, Robert Marchand had to respect the confinement which prohibited him from going out for sports more than a kilometre from his home. Deprived of his usual ride, he sent a letter to the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, to express his frustration:
“I know the gravity of the pandemic and I understand the need for this second confinement, but I find it regrettable that it deprives us in large part of physical activities” he wrote to the president. “Sport, I believe I am a living proof of this, is a cure for disease and a factor of good health. Those who play sport clutter up hospital emergencies much less than those who do not.”
Robert Marchand has always played sport, but he waited until he was a hundred years old to become a celebrity. On September 17, 2012, on the track at the UCI velodrome in Aigles, he set the world record for over one hundred years, covering 24.1 kilometres an hour. Two years later, at St Quentin en Yvelines, he raised this record to 26.927 kilometres. In between, in Lyon, he had covered a hundred kilometres in 4:17:27, To the amazement of doctors and researchers who took him as the subject of their study on ageing. That day, the French physiologist Véronique Billat calculated that Robert Marchand had the cardiac capacities not of a centenary but of a fiftieth! That was the proof that activity, both physical and mental, regenerates cells. From California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who converted to cycling for health reasons, wrote this tweet: “This is absolutely, unquestionably inspiring. I am ready for a bike.”
Robert Marchand immediately answered Arnold Schwarzenegger that he was waiting for him in France for a commune ride. The invitation still stands, but it has become problematic. The pandemic, its two waves and its two confinements have deeply affected the morale and physique of Robert Marchand.
Because of the health crisis, the champion left his studio in the Parisian suburbs where he lived alone in complete autonomy. He is now living in an accommodation establishment for the elderly or dependent (EHPAD) where Gérard Mistler, the president of Ardéchoise found him emaciated. “Because of the Covid, Robert could no longer go to buy his food and he could not stand the industrial meals that were delivered to him,” declared the president of Ardéchoise. “Robert does not suffer from particular pathologies, but he has lost morale.”
To reassure him, a French bicycle brand, a partner of the Ardéchoise, gave Robert Marchand, as a birthday present, a home trainer specially tailored for a 109-year-old champion. The champion has refound a smile and enough energy to address the President of the French Republic a plea in favour of sport.
The Ardéchoise is the largest cycling event in the world. Every years, during the third week of June, nearly twenty-thousand cyclists from all over the world gather in St Félicien, an Ardèche village of 900 inhabitants. Robert Marchand wears the bib number of this event. But in 2020, the event did not take place due to the pandemic.
X2O Badkamers Trofee Men – Herentals 2020
Wout van Aert has his first victory of this cyclocross season in his home cross in Herentals. Mathieu van der Poel had to settle for second place, but the World champion had a puncture at a crucial moment.
Three days after the World Cup Cross in Namur, there was another duel between Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert on Wednesday. Tom Pidcock decided not to start in the X2O round in Herentals. Van der Poel and Van Aert were the fastest from the start line and were the first to enter the off-road. Soon after, the two had ridden away from the opposition. European champion Eli Iserbyt, Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Aerts already had a considerable gap after one lap and already knew they would be fighting for third place. Van der Poel seemed to have the best legs at the front. The World champion, who won the Ethias Cross in Essen on Tuesday, also found a perfect course in Herentals and managed to get a bit of a lead on the technical sections. Van der Poel’s lead on Van Aert fluctuated around 5 seconds.
After 30 minutes of racing, Van der Poel’s lead disappeared. The Dutchman had to finish a large part of the lap with a flat tire, was caught by Van Aert and entered the pit area with a half minute deficit. Van der Poel’s flat tire turned out to be a decisive moment in the race. Van Aert was now alone in the lead and had to defend a 30-second lead for a few more laps. The unfortunate Van der Poel clocked almost the same lap times after his bike change, but closing the gap on Van Aert turned out to be too much.
Van Aert crossed the line after his mostly solo ride for his first victory this cyclocross season. Van der Poel came in second 35 seconds later, Michael Vanthourenhout had to concede more than a minute and a half in third place. Toon Aerts and Eli Iserbyt completed the top five. Iserbyt is the leader in the X2O Trophy after Wednesday’s cross in Herentals. The European champion is now more than two and a half minutes ahead of Lars van der Haar.
Race winner, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “This certainly feels good, it has been a while. I actually didn’t know that Mathieu had a flat tire. I got to Mathieu and it was strange that I came to him so quickly. Then I didn’t want to give him any rest. I decided to set the pace and then quickly rode off. Then I knew something was going on, but I didn’t know when I passed him. I was given half a minute as a gift and then decided to continue in a controlled manner. It was important not to make any more mistakes. It is of course better when there is a battle, but this is part of the game. I made a mistake with the tire pressure. This time I was well off, but I was chasing the whole time. At one point I joined Mathieu, but punctured just before the pits. The difference was only five seconds, but I was constantly put on the defensive. I should have prepared better in advance. A beginner’s mistake. I really wanted to win here and was nervous before the start. I even lost my glasses and numbers after the reconnaissance. Why did I start the cross with nerves? It’s hard to explain. I now live three to four kilometres from the course, but I used to live 500 meters from here. I always used to ride through the park. Mathieu rides almost everything and I will see him everywhere. We also have Tom Pidcock. I don’t think the value ratios will change immediately. We are not far apart in terms of level. I do feel that I can get a lot better. I love to race and I also feel that the cross feeling is coming back more and more.”
2nd, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I am realistic enough to realise that it is impossible to close half a minute. We were already well matched before that. It was still quite a long way to the pits and Wout saw fairly quickly that I had a puncture. Wout immediately had a very nice lead. You know it’s over when you suddenly lose thirty-seconds. I got stuck a bit on those thirty-seconds, but racing a half minute faster is not possible. In the final I also tried to enjoy the course a little bit. This is one of the nicer crosses I’ve done. I hope this is here to stay. It is really a technical course. You are really on the limit and I like that.”
X2O Badkamers Trofee Men – Herentals Result:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 58:13
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:35
3. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:32
4. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise at 2:14
5. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:18
6. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:26
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 2:38
8. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise at 2:48
9. Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans CX at 2:50
10. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop-Fristads at 3:25.
X2O Badkamers Trofee Women – Herentals 2020:
After more than one month without a win, Ceylin del Carmen Avarado now knows what winning is. The Alpecin-Fenix world champion turned out to be the best on Wednesday in the X2O Trophy of Herentals. Alvarado beat Lucinda Brand and Denise Betsema to cross the line solo.
In the Ethias Cross of Essen, won by Marianne Vos, most of the world top riders were not present. For Lucinda Brand, world champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Denise Betsema it was important to recharge the batteries, but the Dutch ladies were at the start of the fourth round of the X2O Badkamers Trofee in Herentals. The fast start in the mud of Herentals came from Betsema, she shot from the starting blocks and took Belgian champion Sanne Cant, Alvarado and X2O leader Brand in tow. Betsema put up a strong pace, but was soon replaced by World champion Alvarado. The Alpecin-Fenix rider took the initiative and was soon part of a leading group of five. Alvarado, Brand, Betsema, Cant and Yara Kastelijn rode together for a while, but on the muddy and very treacherous descents Alvarado managed to push the competition to the limit with her technical qualities. Betsema and Brand appeared to be able to follow Alvarado, for Cant and Kastelijn it went clearly too fast. In the meantime, Alvarado was the first to finish the intermediate sprint.
The Rotterdam native with Dominican roots, who has long been eliminated for the overall victory in the X2O Trophy, managed to grab fifteen bonus seconds. Betsema was number two good for ten-seconds, Brand took five-seconds on the way. After a good twenty minutes of racing we could already prepare for a duel between “The Big Three” of the women’s cross.
Alvarado had a fine technique at the front and managed to build a nice gap in the second round. The two other Dutch ladies had to watch the world champion continue to drive away. The difference quickly increased to about ten-seconds, but the tireless Brand refused to fold. Alvarado’s lead dropped to about five-seconds.
Brand drew deep into her arsenal of strength and seemed to be heading back to Alvarado’s rear wheel, but crashed in a technical descent and had to catch his breath again. The pounding Alvarado took full advantage of Brand’s slipper and thus started the last lap with a twelve-second lead. This proved sufficient for a long-awaited victory.
Alvarado remained virtually clear in the final lap and thus managed to maintain her lead over Brand (between ten and fifteen counts). The Alpecin-Fenix rider celebrated her first victory since November 14, when she was the best in Leuven. Brand came in second and did excellent business for the standings, as Yara Kastelijn had a bad day.
The American Clara Honsinger, last Sunday still cleverly second in the World Cup cross in Namur, was fourth after a good catch-up race. Cant eventually had to settle for fifth place. Marianne Vos also had to come from the background and finished sixth in the day result.
Race winner, Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix): “It’s always nice and nice to win. It’s really great that I can win today. It is nice to see that my good feeling is slowly coming back. Lucinda has been in good shape in recent weeks and I was not doing so well. Hence, the gap with Lucinda was extra large. The fact that I can stay ahead of Lucinda and Denise today is a sign that my form is slowly returning. It is a confirmation of the good form. Of course everything has to go well during such a cross, but this is a boost. Today it was a tough race due to the weather conditions. It was hard work and it went uphill as well.”
2nd, Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise): “Today I had a slightly bad day, It was a very tough cross. Today I had a slightly bad day and then you also make a little more mistakes. You make a mistake faster on this course anyway, but that is part of the game. I seemed to come back a bit and then you want to drive a little faster. I was just not completely secure and so I flipped over. I had to change bikes afterwards. I just wanted to keep putting pressure on. After all, something like this can also happen at the front. Ceylin was also good in Antwerp, but then just had bad luck. The course in Herentals is tailor-made for Ceylin. A course like Namur is not really her thing, if you look at the degree of difficulty. Today we were presented with a completely different course.”
X2O Badkamers Trofee Women – Herentals Result:
1. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 45:53
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Telenet Baloise at 0:19
3. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:23
4. Clara Honsinger (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld at 1:30
5. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 1:36
6. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv at 1:50
7. Manon Bakker (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:03
8. Yara Kastelijn (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 2:19
9. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport at 2:45
10. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:53.
Ethias Cross Men – Essen 2020
Mathieu van der Poel took his third victory of the cyclo-cross season in the Ethias Cross in Essen on Tuesday. The World champion put in the decisive attack halfway through the race, he then soloed to the finish. Quinten Hermans was second and Tom Pidcock finished third.
Laurens Sweeck was the fastest starter into the mud of Essen, with Quinten Hermans on his wheel. World champion Mathieu van der Poel got off to a slow start, and had to let Ryan Kamp, Toon Aerts and Tom Pidcock lead the way in the first lap. On the second lap Pidcock and Van der Poel managed to catch up with Sweeck and Hermans, creating a leading group of four. Due to a slip, the young Briton, who was third in the World Cup in Namur last Sunday, fell back. At halfway; Pidcock was ten-seconds behind the other three. That was the signal for Van der Poel to put on the power. That one attack turned out to be the decisive of the race, as Sweeck and Hermans were forced to make mistakes and were unable to keep up with the World champion. The difference fluctuated around ten-seconds for a long time, but then increased slowly.
The battle for second place was tense until the seventh of the nine laps. Hermans managed to distance himself from the Belgian champion, who had a flat tire and saw Pidcock and Aerts catch him. Pidcock took over third place and kept it despite pressure from Sweeck and climbed on the podium with Van der Poel and Hermans. The leader of the Alpecin-Fenix team took his third victory of the winter, after Antwerp and Namur. In Gavere he lost out to Tom Pidcock.
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I tried to take the victory as economically as possible, because it is a busy period with Herentals again tomorrow. The pace was quite high in the beginning and I made many mistakes. My tires were a bit too hard, I thought. After I switched bikes it started to run smoothly. This was a course where I could do my thing. There were only a few parts where you could ride through, the rest was really technical. It was a bit too difficult for a playground, but I am satisfied. Namur and Gavere were very difficult races, so this was very welcome. The first part of this cross was perhaps a bit less cross feeling. But Namen really took action, it was very tough. That is why I am glad that I already had the feeling in the second part a bit better today.”
2nd, Quinten Hermans (Tormans CX): “The podium spots are highly coveted this winter, and the quality of the start list promised another fierce battle for the victory and places of honour. I felt good and I kept an eye on my competitors. The acceleration of Van der Poel made me suffer, but I saw the others making some mistakes. This gave me confidence, I’m really happy to finally take my first podium of the season. I was progressing and finally managed to realise what I was aiming for. The consequences of my crash at the Dauphiné lasted a lot longer than I hoped for, but I’m on track now!”
Ethias Cross Men – Essen Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 1:02:43
2. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX at 0:11
3. Thomas Pidcock (GB) Trinity at 0:18
4. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:23
5. Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise at 1:13
6. Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport at 1:23
7. Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:58
8. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise at 2:17
9. Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise at 2:47
10. Ben Turner (GB) Trinity at 2:49.
Ethias Cross Women – Essen 2020
Marianne Vos won the Ethias Cross in Essen, her first cyclocross race of this winter. The CCC-Liv rider started slowly and placed the decisive attack on the penultimate lap. She defeated Perrine Clauzel and Inge van der Heijden. This is the third victory in Essen for Vos, after victories in 2011 and 2019.
Marianne Vos did not miss out on her comeback. She didn’t start in the front row, but worked her way up quickly. The fast start in the mud of Essen went to Marion Norbert Riberolle, ahead of Anna Kay and Yara Kastelijn. They were chased by a group with Laura Verdonschot, Inge van der Heijden, Perrine Clauzel, Blanka Kata Vas and Vos. Kay and Kastelijn had a gap on the others in the second lap, but it was Van der Heijden and Vos who managed to race towards the duo. In the third lap of five, Kastelijn had to drop out of the leading group due to a problem with her chain. Whatever she tried, the chain wouldn’t work, so the Credishop-Fristads rider had to give up.
In the penultimate lap, Vas took the lead, (Blanka Kata) Vas was unable to react to a breakaway from Vos a little later. In no time, the experienced Dutch rider had a 5 second gap with three chasers: Vas, Clauzel and Van der Heijden. Vos kept a high pace to keep Clauzel and Van der Heijden behind on the last lap. Vas seemed on her way to a podium place, but due to a crash on the final lap, she lost her top three spot.
Race winner, Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv): “I had to go deep, but it went well. I was lucky at the start that I could move up to sixth or seventh place. As a result, I had the first in sight. I didn’t panic and rode my own race. Maybe that’s the experience. The start gave confidence and hope for the rest of the race. I was able to move lap by lap and that went beyond expectations. I hoped not to get a setback, but that feeling only came on the last lap. Today was good enough for a win. I know what it’s like to do the first cross and come from behind. I had to try to keep calm. Unfortunately, there were others who were unlucky, so the situation did change. Yara Kastelijn raced really well and she was well in the race. Herentals will be a different story. Now I was lucky, but if you cannot move quickly, it is very difficult to get to the front. I am aware of that. It will not make me sleep any worse. I hope I digest this well. It is tough such a first cross, but I see it as a challenge to compete at the front tomorrow because you don’t know how you stand in the field. I don’t see much competition from the Netherlands against the rest. At the moment I can come from behind, so the rest has already proven itself. Lucinda Brand is working on a good series, Alvarado and Worst have already shown themselves. There is a large group that achieves a high level. I am not busy where I am, but I am trying to conquer my place. Very unfortunate, (the canceled Dutch championships), but we took that into account. Today, every race that is held is a bonus. Nice that it is also possible here. The fact that the World Cup seems to be able to proceed would be very nice for the sport. It is completely understandable that a different choice was made for the championships.”
3rd, Inge van der Heijden (777): “I hope to gain confidence here. Finally. The start of the season was not great, but I’m getting better and better. I’m glad I’m finally on the podium and I hope to gain confidence with this. She can keep a good pace, and when she passed I knew I had to watch her. In the end, (Kata Blanka) Vas still fell in the last lap, so I could still reach the podium.”
Ethias Cross Women – Essen Result:
1. Marianne Vos (Ned) CCC-Liv in 39:45
2. Perrine Clauzel (Fra) A.S. Bike Crossteam at 0:06
3. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777 at 0:09
4. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport at 0:17
5. Anna Kay (GB) Starcasino CX at 0:21
6. Marion Norbert Riberolle (Fra) Starcasino CX at 0:53
7. Alice Maria Arzuffi (Ita) 777 at 0:56
8. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) Credishop-Fristads at 1:02
9. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:08
10. Alicia Franck (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT at 1:12.
Van Aert on INEOS Grenadiers Interest
Wout van Aert responded to the news that the INEOS Grenadiers team want to sign him. The Jumbo-Visma rider gave a wink to competitor Tom Pidcock, who will be joining the British team next year: “I’ll ask Pidcock if there is still room in his camper.”
Van Aert’s contract with Jumbo-Visma expires at the end of 2021, and he is in talks with the Dutch team about a contract extension. “To be honest: I’m not really working on it myself,” he said in conversation with Het Laatste Nieuws. “The talks with Jumbo-Visma to break open and extend my contract are ongoing, but it is becoming a long-term task. 2021 is getting very close. Then nothing will change anyway.”
INEOS Grenadiers had a first meeting with Van Aert’s management during the last Tour de France. Sir Dave Brailsford was enthusiastic about the opportunity to recruit the Belgian superstar.
Wout to INEOS?
Biniam Ghirmay Best African Rider of 2020
The title of African Cyclist of the Year went to Biniam Ghirmay. The 20-year-old rider from Eritrea, who made his professional debut for Nippo-Delko One Provence this year, received the trophy on Monday.
Ghirmay was chosen as the winner by a jury headed by the French former cyclist Bernard Hinault. “This year he won two stages in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, but also excelled in tough European races,” says Hinault. “He moves very quickly thanks to his qualities as a puncher. We will be hearing from him in the coming years. That is a certainty.”
In addition to his stage victories in Gabon last January, Ghirmay was also second in the Trofeo Laigueglia, was four times in the top three in the Tour du Rwanda, second in the Tour du Doubs and fourth in the Giro della Toscana. The trophy for the best African cyclist of the Year has been awarded since 2012.
African Cyclist of the Year:
2020: Biniam Ghirmay
2019: Daryl Impey
2018: Joseph Areruya
2017: Louis Meintjes
2016: Tesfom Okubamariam
2015: Daniel Teklehaimanot
2014: Mekseb Debesay
2013: Louis Meintjes
2012: Natnael Berhane.
Top African rider of 2020 – Eritrea’s Biniam Ghirmay 2nd in the Trofeo Laigueglia 2020:
Arkéa-Samsic Manager on Quintana
Nairo Quintana is still recovering from a serious knee injury, but the Arkéa-Samsic rider is given time to recover. “We just have to be a little patient. It is important not to rush anything.” manager Emmanuel Hubert told Le Télégramme.
Quintana underwent an operation on his left knee at the end of October, as he was racing with severe knee pain after the corona break. The result of an accident during the summer in Colombia, when he was hit by a car during training. He turned out to have completed the Tour de France with a fracture in the kneecap. After the operation, Colombian sports doctor Gustavo Castro said the healing process would take four to eight months. Hubert thinks the Colombian will be able to race again in February. “Why not at the end of February? His rehab appears to be going very well. He now cycles a bit on the exercise bike. Fifteen minutes, maximum thirty minutes.”
Hubert expects Quintana to be able to train outside again early next year. The winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia and the 2016 Vuelta a España wanted to return in the Tour Colombia, but this stage race in February has been canceled due to the corona pandemic. “That was perhaps a bit premature.”
The preliminary investigation into possible doping use by the brothers Nairo and Dayer Quintana is still ongoing. The Quintana brothers, whom the French authorities are targeting, are free to race pending further investigation. Authorities are currently not releasing anything about the case, leaving Hubert still in the dark. Hubert spoke about the doping investigation: “I don’t have any new information. We are dealing with a preliminary investigation and that means that I have no insight into any evidence. Of course I am concerned, it is not a very pleasant situation. I hope this case will end soon, that’s the best for everyone. I still stand behind Nairo. I still believe him. They must now come up with proof.”
Quintana recovering from the accident last year:
Bernal: “I can cycle without pain again”
Things are slowly moving in the right direction with Egan Bernal’s recovery. The first Colombian Tour winner says that he can cycle pain-free again. However, Bernal cannot say when he will make his return.
The young INEOS Grenadiers rider had to retire after sixteen stages of the 2020 Tour de France. It turned out to be his last race of this season as he did not race for the rest of the year. “2022 has been a difficult year for me”, Bernal summarises last season briefly but to the point in Pimer Tiempo. “I look forward to the new season. I am preparing, but I have to keep looking at it step by step.”
The Colombian climber does not yet know which races he will ride next year. “I don’t have a race schedule yet. Everything depends on how the recovery continues. It is going well, the inflammation is decreasing and I can cycle without pain again, but we should not rush. You also have to take into account that efforts during competitions are different…”
Bernal looking ahead:
Richard Plugge Thinks It Is Time for a Drastic Reorganisation
Richard Plugge argues for a curtailment of the number of race days. He wants to go from 180 race days per season to 120 in future, according to the Jumbo-Visma team manager in Het Financieele Dagblad. “That increases the attractiveness of cycling.”
Plugge says in the interview that he did not have to make many adjustments to get through the corona era. “Unlike many other sports, we are not dependent on the number of spectators. Nobody has to pay to stand along the course. We receive our income from sponsors and from the starting money. This is how what is normally a disadvantage of cycling became an advantage this year,” said the team manager.
It could be a good reason to leave everything as it was, but Plugge does not want to agree. “That seems unwise to me and a number of other team managers. It is time for a drastic reorganisation of our sport, for example by limiting the number of race days from 180 now to 120 in the future. If there are too many races, the top riders have to choose which races they do and which they don’t ride,” Plugge explains. “That means that they don’t always compete against each other and it will be difficult for the public to determine who is the best.”
“If there are fewer races on the schedule, the real stars will emerge and the fans will have an easier time choosing their favourite. This increases the attractiveness of cycling, both for the public and for sponsors and television channels,” Plugge concluded.
Richard Plugge with Roglič and Groenewegen:
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux Validated for the UCI World Tour
The International Cycling Union confirmed this Wednesday the registered teams in the UCI World Tour for season 2021. The registration of team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux for the World Tour was validated, after ten seasons on a Professional Continental level. Want You Cycling took over the structure Continuum Sports in September, in order to continue the adventure of CCC Team (ex-BMC Racing Team) directed by Gavin Chilcott and Jim Ochowicz.
The project, which was taken over by Jean-François Bourlart in 2001 when it was still the VC Ath, reached the milestones in cycling step by step. The UCI Continental division (D3 in the world) was reached in 2008, before obtaining the Professional Continental (D2 in the world) license in 2011.
The team continued to grow thanks to its loyal partners Wanty and Groupe Gobert, culminating in success at Amstel Gold Race with Enrico Gasparotto in 2016, leading the UCI Europe Tour ranking (2016, 2017, 2018), followed by three participations at the Tour de France (2017, 2018, 2019). The structure directed the teams UCI Pro Team Circus-Wanty Gobert and UCI Tormans Cyclo Cross Team in 2020. After ten seasons in cycling’s second tier, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert is ready to continue its evolution and join the UCI World Tour in 2021 thanks to the takeover of Continuum Sports
Jean-François Bourlart (General Manager Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “The past weeks were restless, but we’re really happy with this confirmation of our World Tour membership. We largely reinforced our structure in order to fulfil the criteria of the UCI. We could rely on the good advice of Gavin Chilcott and Jim Ochowicz and the experience of a part of the riders and staff of Team CCC. The financial, sportive and organisational criteria were largely met, and we could defend our project at the License Commission. Our registration was validated! I’m happy and proud for our loyal partners which always supported us and accompanied our project, like Wanty, Gobert Matériaux, Cube, Circus, Tormans, and all other members of our business club Want You Club. I’m even happier about the addition of Intermarché to the project we’ve been building for many years. This stage is essential for the development of our structure, both sportively and commercially.”
GreenEDGE Cycling to Race in the Santos Festival of Cycling
UCI WorldTeam GreenEDGE Cycling has committed its Men’s and Women’s teams to race against some of Australia’s elite domestic cyclists adding to the line-up at the Santos Festival of Cycling presented by the Santos Tour Down Under in January 2021.
Men’s Race Director Stuart O’Grady says, “The Santos Festival of Cycling will give Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming athletes the platform to race with some of the world’s best, including GreenEDGE Cycling, which will give them the ultimate athletic experience”.
Women’s Race Director Kimberley Conte, added, “To have the GreenEDGE team race here in the Santos Festival of Cycling is a significant achievement for the organisation. The team will infuse excitement into the race and will serve to inspire the domestic field, including riders who may be heading to Tokyo as well as those who may one day find themselves wearing the green and gold.”
The men’s team will consist of Lucas Hamilton, Australian champion Cameron Meyer, Australian time trial champion Luke Durbridge, Alex Edmondson, Damien Howson and Kaden Groves, while Jess Allen, Grace Brown, Lucy Kennedy, Sarah Roy, Georgia Williams and Alex Manly (Guest rider) will be riding in women’s team. Both the men’s and the women’s GreenEDGE cycling teams will face an elite field as part of the invitational race sanctioned for National Road Series (NRS) points.
Brent Copeland, General Manager, GreenEDGE Cycling says that, “For GreenEDGE Cycling it is always a great opportunity to participate in the Santos Tour Down Under, as it is our home event. It will surely be a different one for us (in 2021) and for everyone, but we are doing everything possible to give that sense of normality to our sport and the community. We are also very excited as we will participate with a new Team name and look and doing it for the first official race of the year in Australia is an extra motivation for us. We will try to achieve the best result possible in our first official appearance of the season.”
GreenEDGE Cycling Team will be racing in the Santos Festival of Cycling as part of the Invitational Road Race between 21 – 24 January 2021.
For more information on the Santos Festival of Cycling and its events, please visit: tourdownunder.com.au
GreenEDGE to TDU:
The Province of Utrecht Wants Vuelta Start in 2022
The province of Utrecht supports the plan to have the start of the Vuelta a España in Utrecht in 2022. The provincial government is allocating an extra three hundred thousand euros to make the depart of the Spanish Grand Tour possible.
The Tour of Spain should have started in the Netherlands this year, but the corona crisis put a stop to that. Cor Jansen, initiator to bring the start of the Vuelta to Utrecht, had previously announced that he would like to postpone the project to 2022. The Utrecht provincial government supports him in this and has committed three hundred thousand euros, AD reports. The province wants to bring the Vuelta to Utrecht to lend a hand to sectors affected by corona, such as tourism, culture and catering.
This amount comes from a reserve for the consequences of the corona crisis. The government organisations involved: the municipality of Utrecht, ‘s Hertogenbosch, Breda and the province of Noord-Brabant, have also pledged extra money, which means that there is a prospect of more than 1.5 million euros. 2.1 million euros would be needed to finally bring in the Vuelta. The Provincial Council has yet to pronounce on the extra funding.
Race director Javier Guillén indicated earlier this year that the departure from the Netherlands is a priority for organiser Unipublic. “We have seen so much enthusiasm and a very high level of commitment. It is a pleasure to work together. The least we can do is investigate the possibility of starting in the Netherlands in the near future and we trust that we will be able to do so as soon as possible.”
The (original) Vuelta 2020 start:
Gazprom-RusVelo and VK Agreed on Cooperation
The Russian social network VK will become the official informational partner of the team Gazprom-RusVelo.
The General manager of Gazprom-RusVelo Renat Khamidulin commented on the new cooperation: “Partnership with the major social network in Russia is especially vital for us as the only Russian professional cycling team. Hundreds of millions of users are registered on the social network VK which allows us to effectively engage with the broad audience of cycling fans. Additionally, popularisation of cycling sport in our country is one of the tasks of the team. The informational partnership with VK will let us to implement our ideas faster.”
The Head of Sports and Media Projects at VK Andrey Melnik on the partnership: “For ‘VKontakte’ the partnership with the cycling team is a unique experience, this is the first time in the history of our social network. For us it is both a joy and a responsibility, and we hope that these feelings are mutual. We look forward to a long and productive cooperation, and would like to wish the team best of luck with new challenges and achievements. From our side we promise to provide all kinds of support.”
Gazprom-RusVelo training in Spain:
Trinity Continues Without Pidcock
Despite Trinity Racing having to say goodbye to co-founder Tom Pidcock, the team is taking a step up. The British team will race on a Continental road license in the 2021 season, with Irish champion Ben Healy as the leader.
Pidcock will ride for INEOS Grenadiers in the WorldTour next season, but the team continues to grow even without the multi-talented rider. It was already active in various U23 races, and Trinity was also rode in cyclocross and mountain biking. In 2021 they also want to focus on gravel racing and esports.
The team will consist of thirteen riders, including three Irish, three Americans, a Japanese and a Brazilian in addition to the British riders. Two mountain bikers also join the British team with Haley Batten and Chiara Teocchi. They will, like Christopher Blevins, focus on the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The young Brazilian Alex Malacarne also focuses on the mountain bike.
Trinity Racing Team 2021:
Christopher Blevins (USA), Sam Culverwell (GB), Matthew Devins (Irl), Thomas Gloag (GB), Luke Lamperti (USA), Alex Malacarne (Bra), Cameron Mason (GB), Finley Newmark (Irl), Ben Healy (Irl), Ollie Rees (GB), Tosh Teare (Jap), Ben Turner (GB), Max Walker (GB), Haley Batten (GB), Chiara Teocchi (Ita).
Trinity without Pidcock:
Introducing Team Bahrain Victorious for the 2021 UCI WorldTour Season
Team Bahrain McLaren announced today that it will compete as Team Bahrain Victorious in the 2021 season as part of a change in its strategic direction.
This transition represents an exciting new chapter in the team’s journey which will expedite its vision to showcase the ambition and optimism of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the world. The inclusion of Victorious into the team’s name serves as a constant reminder of its goal to achieve success at the highest level both on and off the bike.
The performance-first ethos instilled during the 2020 season was evident through the team’s five top-ten finishes across the Grand Tours. Team Bahrain Victorious carries over this ethos and spirit of optimism which is symbolised by the striking blue touches on the new kit design, which additionally celebrates the national colour of Bahrain.
To complement the existing rider line-up which includes Mikel Landa, Pello Bilbao, Wout Poels, Dylan Teuns, Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohoric, the team has signed Jack Haig, Jonathan Milan and Gino Mäder.
The team’s founder, His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa commented: “Cycling is one of the most challenging sports which requires dedication, discipline and perseverance. It’s these values that are needed to take on endurance sports which are capable of promoting a better lifestyle for all. Team Bahrain Victorious will reflect our vision for building a performance-first team that aims to inspire and win at the highest level.”
His Highness is an avid sportsman who found his passion for cycling through triathlon and launched a series of initiatives to endorse cycling, including the Bahrain Cycling Academy which nurtures and develops local talent and reduces the barriers to participation.
The team’s strong connection to the Kingdom of Bahrain is represented by the proud support of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bapco, Batelco, National Bank of Bahrain and Alba amongst many others.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has been involved in UCI WorldTour cycling since 2017 with the support of MERIDA BIKES, who will continue to be an integral partner of the team, supplying race-winning bikes and continuous innovation alongside their technical partners FSA cockpits, Vision wheels, Prologo saddles, Continental tires and Shimano power meters.
In addition to MERIDA, Team Bahrain Victorious will also be working with several of pro cycling’s most impressive technical partners – including leading-edge helmet and eyewear brand Rudy Project, cycling luggage innovator Scicon, Elite trainers and bottles, performance apparel brand Nalini and the most innovative tool brands Snap-On and Bahco.
Global news broadcaster CNBC, bespoke tailors Cad & The Dandy, Rocket Espresso and Bristot have also renewed their partnership with the team for 2021.
B&B Hotels p/b KTM 2021 Team Kit
Team DSM Partner Up with Premium Tyre Brand, Vittoria, for 2021
For 2021, the team has partnered up with the established premium tyre brand, Vittoria. With their blend of world class products and high-quality research and development facilities, which produces premium racing tyres for all performance levels, they fit in well with the team’s ethos of always looking for ways to improve.
2021 Team DSM R&D expert Piet Rooijakkers explained: “We’re excited to begin our partnership with Vittoria and equip our bikes in 2021 with their premium, high-end quality and reliable tyres. They’re very experienced and we’re looking forward to combining our scientific approach and insight with their years of knowledge and expertise. Using their high technology and performance Corsa tubular and tubeless-ready tyres, which are best suited to specific road race conditions, will help our riders to push themselves to the maximum.”
Stijn Vriends, President & CEO of Vittoria added: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with one of the most exciting World Tour teams. The Team’s Keep Challenging philosophy which is focused on better teamwork to speed up the implementation of innovations is very appealing to us. We look forward to working closely with the Team’s experts and scientists on new product developments which can enhance the performance of elite riders on the road.”
Team DSM team up with innovative head unit and watch manufacturer Wahoo for 2021
In 2021 Team DSM are excited to team up with the leading Fitness technology company, Wahoo. The incredible performance level, in terms of weight and aerodynamics, of their products will help to give the team a competitive advantage against their opposition at the highest level where every watt saved counts. Simple and intuitive interfaces across the Wahoo range will allow for both the team’s riders and experts to track their efforts throughout the season, in training and races, which will help with performance analysis and further improve our training capabilities and race expertise.
Team DSM R&D expert Piet Rooijakkers elaborated: “Wahoo are the best in the world in terms of their innovative GPS bike computers, and have an equally fantastic GPS sports watch, so we’re delighted to work together with them next year. We’ve conducted multiple tests and their products stood out with their incredibly high-performance levels, which will certainly benefit our riders during races and training.”
Mike Saturnia, Wahoo CEO added: “We are thrilled to work with a team that focuses on building better athletes. The work the team puts in behind-the-scenes through its training structure and rider development is unparalleled, which is for example demonstrated at their Keep Challenging Centre & campus. Wahoo will be working closely with the team to support the journey each and every rider makes.”
Team Bahrain Victorious Sign First Bahraini UCI WorldTour Rider – Ahmed Madan
Team Bahrain Victorious is proud to announce the signing of the first Bahraini UCI WorldTour cyclist Ahmed Madan, for the upcoming 2021 season.
Since Bahrain entered UCI WorldTour cycling back in 2017, one of the ambitions was always to inspire young riders and develop the most talented to ride with world’s best in the pro peloton.
The first to meet this ambition is 20-year-old Ahmed Madan who joined the Bahrain National Team in 2018. After a series of strong performances Ahmed’s potential was rewarded with a place in the Bahrain Cycling Academy which was founded by His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa to provide promising young cyclists with a path to professional cycling.
After one year of racing with the Bahrain Cycling Academy, Ahmed graduated to the UCI continental circuit. His passion and attitude during this time caught the attention of the President of the Cycling Federation, Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who identified Ahmed as a cyclist who could move up the ranks.
Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa commented: “Ahmed came to the cycling scene through group rides and mountain biking, but he started to show his talent once he started road racing. His first official camp with the national team was in Turkey where he quickly showed his potential. His passion for cycling is his biggest asset because it drives him to put in the necessary training to reach the top. Last season he raced with Bahrain Cycling Academy on the UCI continental circuit. Making the step-up to the UCI WorldTour is a big feat as Ahmed is the first Bahraini rider to join the elite riders of the cycling world. Ahmed will hopefully lead a new wave of Bahrain cyclists that can compete at the highest level and bring success to cycling in the Kingdom.”
Ahmed is looking forward to his first season in UCI WorldTour cycling and is hoping he will inspire other young Bahraini’s to take up the sport and make it at the highest level. On signing with the team, Ahmed said “Firstly, I’d like to thank His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has given all young Bahraini cyclists a path to compete in this amazing sport. I’m excited about signing for the team, and I want to work hard to make Bahrain proud. This is an opportunity for me to take my cycling to the next level and learn from some of the best cyclists in the world.”
Carr Latest Addition to EF Pro Cycling
Simon Carr will compete at WorldTour level next year. The 22-year-old Brit has signed a contract with EF Pro Cycling. Carr rode this year for the French Nippo-Delko One Provence and is also the last addition for 2021.
Carr, who is known as a promising climber, stood out as a rider for the French development team; AVC Aix-en-Provence. At the beginning of 2019 he was tenth in Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc. This year he raced as a pro with Nippo-Delko One Provence. Carr immediately showed well at a higher level. In the Volta a Portugal he wore the youth jersey for several days, but eventually had to settle for a nineteenth place in the final GC. A week after the Volta a Portugal he took his first-ever professional victory in the Prueba Villafranca-Ordiziako Klasika.
EF Pro Cycling, which will be EF Education Nippo in 2021, will start the new season with thirty riders.
Jensen to Delko One Provence
August Jensen has managed to get a professional contract for 2021. The 29-year-old Norwegian leaves the ailing Riwal Securitas for Delko One Provence. Jensen, who previously rode for Israel Cycling Academy, signed a one-year contract with the ProTeam.
“This is a completely new experience for me, especially to ride in a French team,” said Jensen. “I look forward to being part of the team’s history and racing with them. My goal for 2021 is to take steps with the team, to help my teammates in some races and to achieve results myself. I would also like to pass on my experience to the young riders.”
Jensen’s only pro victory dates back to 2017, when he won a stage in the Arctic Race of Norway. He finished eighth in Paris-Tours last year and was also fourth in the Championship of Flanders and the GP Jef Scherens. “August has a double hat, because he can be a very good helper and also win sprints for puncheurs,” said team manager Philippe Lannes.
With the arrival of Jensen, Delko One Provence, which recently lost main sponsor Nippo to EF Pro Cycling, has completed the selection for 2021.
Team DSM Sign Esmée Peperkamp to their Women’s Program for 2021
Esmée Peperkamp will join Team DSM from next season, with the Dutch rider wearing the team’s two distinctive Keep Challenging stripes for the 2021 season.
Picking up a number of solid results in her opening year riding in the peloton, Peperkamp’s second season on the road in 2020 was stunted. Whilst only riding two races in 2020, she still claimed a strong seventh place over some tough terrain and against talented opposition at the Trophée des Grimpeures. A rider with plenty of room left to develop, Peperkamp can cope well on both the short and long climbs, while also producing good efforts against the clock.
Peperkamp said: “I have always wanted to race at the highest level of cycling, and to do so with Team DSM for 2021 feels like a dream come true. I have always been a fan of the approach Team DSM has to cycling, I really like their Keep Challenging philosophy and desire to improve, and I can’t wait to contribute to this. I want to develop myself to become a better rider in all areas and I think Team DSM is the perfect place for me to do so because of their focus on development combined with a lot of experience and knowledge within the team. I am really looking forward to learning as much as possible from all of the experienced girls in the team and riding with them next year. I am really thankful to be given this opportunity and am dedicated to get the best out of myself and to support the team during the races.”
Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna continued: “Esmée just started cycling a few years ago and every year has progressively made solid steps. We conducted some tests at our Keep Challenging Centre which confirmed her strong ability on the bike, with Esmée producing some high numbers and showing that she is a physically gifted athlete, and one that suits the climbs. Esmée has only been racing in the peloton for a short time so still needs to adapt to the rigours and tactics required to race at the top level, but she has shown that she has the attitude to develop that. There is no pressure on her as she joins, and she will need to make these steps gradually but we’re confident that with our group of experts, trainers and coaches – she is in just the right place to do that.”
Compton Working on Penultimate Cyclo-Cross Season
Katie Compton will end her career in just over a year. The now 42-year-old cyclist – who won several World Cup medals – is working on her penultimate cross season, her husband Mark Legg announced via social media.
Compton started racing relatively late, as she started her cycling career as a pilot for the blind cyclist Karissa Whitsell. Together they won two gold medals at the Paralympic Games in 2004. The American went on to focus on a career as a cyclist after the Games and soon proved extremely successful. Compton was American cyclo-cross champion fifteen times and also took medals at the World cyclo-cross Championship. Compton never won the rainbow jersey. In 2007 she finished behind Maryline Salvetat, in 2009, 2011 and 2013 behind Marianne Vos and in 2018 Sanne Cant was stronger in Valkenburg.
She also won 24 World Cup cross races and was the best in the final classification twice. She also won the DVV Trophy once. Last year, Compton regularly finished on the podium of top cross races and she finished fourth at the World Championships, but this year it is not going smoothly. The experienced cyclist is struggling with physical problems and is still waiting for a first top 10 place. Compton will end her career at the beginning of 2022, after the World Championships in her own country.
Luke Rowe Tests Positive for Corona Virus
Luke Rowe announced on social media on Tuesday that he has tested positive for Covid-19. 30 year-old Rowe, INEOS Grenadiers rider, made the news known on Twitter. “Covid got me! See ya in 2021 ladies and gents. Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year ya filthy animals !!!” It is not known how badly he is affected
The Welshman is by no means the only rider to be infected with the corona virus. Earlier this year, the virus also hit Michael Matthews, Kirsten Wild, Simon Yates, Filippo Ganna and several other riders. Rowe, who was part of the winning Tour team every year from 2015 to 2019, still has a contract with INEOS Grenadiers until 2023.
Ex-Skier Vigo del Arco Postpones Debut with Androni Giocattoli
Martí Vigo del Arco, the ex-cross-country skier who recently signed a contract with Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, has had to postpone his debut as a professional cyclist. The Spaniard, who is celebrating his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, has a fracture in his hand after a crash during training.
Vigo del Arco was training in Tarragona, but crashed and hurt his hand. The Spaniard was to represent Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec in the Vuelta a San Juan (January 24-31), but the rider is not fit for the Argentinian stage race. “We believed in a good performance in the queen stage to the Alto de Colorado, as Martí is a climber. However, he is a boy with character and he knows how to react to a setback,” team manager Gianni Savio told Ciclo21.
Vigo del Arco signed for the Italian team for 2021 and 2022. He has been a high-level cross-country skier in recent years, including the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Because his partner went cycling, Vigo del Arco also got on the bike.
No skier for Androni Giocattoli:
Merry Christmas from the INEOS Grenadiers
In a year like no other, we just wanted to say ‘thank you’. Merry Christmas from the INEOS Grenadiers.
Video: Till The Last Stage
Crosswinds, crashes and echelons. We suffered some bad luck at the Tour de France 2020 – but hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.
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