The ‘new’ season is still going strong – Race reports from the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Gran Piemonte. Psychologists look at stars Remco Evenepoel and Wout Van Aert – TOP STORY. We preview Il Lombardia with team news. Race news: World championships canceled, but plans go ahead for the Tour de France. Tour of Guangxi and Tour of Chongming Island canceled. Rider news from Nairo Quintana, Victor Campenaerts, Ibai Salas, Matteo Trentin and Greg Van Avermaet and contract news from AG2r-La Mondiale, Sunweb, Movistar, Israel Start-Up Nation, Circus-Wanty Gobert. Dylan Groenewegen wants to contact Fabio Jakobsen, Philippe Gilbert a father again and Alberto Contador and Mathieu Van der Poel become business partners. EUROTRASH coffee time.
TOP STORY: Sports Psychologists Compare Evenepoel and Van Aert
Rudy Heylen and Jef Brouwers, two renowned Belgian sports psychologists, compare the personalities of Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert. And explain their great popularity in Belgium. “Sport needs colourful figures. They both meet that profile.”
Rudy Heylen, Wout van Aert’s mental coach for years, makes a clear distinction between the two top riders. “Remco, a little younger, has real guts and self-awareness for sale,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. “You hear that in his interviews. He takes advantage of his impulsiveness. Wout’s personality needs more distance, more reserve. He looks at things for a moment, analyses and only then gives his findings.”
Still, both are very interesting, says Heylen. “Race, and sport in general, needs colourful figures. People love it. Niels Albert was also such a heart-on-the-tongue type. Nice to listen to, right? It can be a bit more than ‘yes uh, I had good legs and uh, I kicked hard and uh, I won’.”
“Undoubtedly there are those who think in Remco: ‘Wow, arrogant little man, blow off the tower so high, take it easy.’ But what a pity is it to react like that? Look through that, embrace young warriors who want to profile themselves. They are allowed to do that, based on their results.”
Brouwers sees two top riders with a very clear vision about their lives. “That life is sport. Cycling. In which they strive for a great mental assertive independence. The outside world hardly or not at all enters them. They check their potential without affecting the environment. This typifies top men. Independent spirits, who do their own thing and do not compare themselves with others. Whoever compares loses.”
At the same time, according to Brouwers, they retain their ‘normality’. “They also have to go to the supermarket when there is no food at home. Just like you and me. That flesh-and-blood content makes the people easy to associate with them. They are men whose status and ego is less than their achievements. In this case, Van Aert and Evenepoel, those performances are gigantic. Then that ego can safely lie just below that.”
“Remco and Wout are by the way ‘serial winners’”, Brouwers continues. “Who became world champions at a very young age and are used to dealing with enormous attention.” It means that it is no effort for a type like Evenepoel to maintain his image, according to Brouwers. “That boy is just real. Watch his interviews when he was with the juniors: what you see is what you get. That also applies to Van Aert,” says Heylen. “Although Wout has made a clear evolution in this. His interviews are significantly better in 2020 than they used to be. Because he has further developed his personality. As long as there is no faking and it doesn’t come across as ‘blasé’: my compliments, guys. Well done! It shows a healthy dose of self-knowledge.”
Belgium’s top young stars:
Critérium du Dauphiné 2020
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won the opening Stage 1 of the Critérium du Dauphiné on Wednesday. After a day of hard work by his Jumbo-Visma team, the winner of Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo, won in an uphill battle in Saint-Christo-en-Jarez.
In the opening stage of the 72nd Dauphiné, the peloton rode just under 220 kilometres from Clermont-Ferrand to Saint-Christo-en-Jarez. The first 128 kilometres were the same the 14th stage of the Tour de France. The race would cross the Côte du Château d’Aulteribe, the Col du Béal and the Côte du Courreau before four Cat 4 climbs to the finish.
Toms Skujiņš and Jelle Wallays were the first to attack, but were quickly caught. A new escape attempt after 10 kilometres was more successful. Brent Van Moer, Niccolò Bonifazio, Michael Schär, Quinten Hermans and Tom-Jelte Slagter joined forces. After the only intermediate sprint at 38 kilometres they had 5 minutes.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step with Tim Declercq and Jumbo-Visma with Tony Martin kept the lead of the escape under control. The leaders lost Bonifazio due to back problems. Then Schär and Slagter had to continue together after Van Moer and Hermans crashed on the descent of the Côte du Courreau, the third climb of the day. Partly due to the disappearance of three escapees, the margin of the leading group had decreased and they were held at around 3 minutes.
54 kilometres out, on the fourth climb, Slagter let Schär go on by himself. He was first over the Côte de Saint-Héand and the Montée Andreï Kiviliev, taking the first mountain jersey. At the start of the local circuit, 35 kilometres from the finish, Rémi Cavagna and Søren Kragh Andersen went after Schär. Quentin Pacher also chased and passed Cavagna and Kragh Andersen.
Schär was caught by Pacher with 25 kilometres from the line, after which the Frenchman immediately went into the lead. In a right turn he crashed. Schär stayed upright, but was caught by Cavagna and Kragh Andersen. The CCC rider tried it solo for a while, but eventually had to give up.
Cavagna saw his chance and started the last 15 kilometres with a 12 second lead, which included two Cat 4 climbs. Jumbo-Visma’s Robert Gesink increased the pace on the first climb and Cavagna was also caught. When Gesink’s work was done, his teammate Sepp Kuss led the peloton to the final climb. There the other favourites also pushed on. At 3 kilometres from the finish, Rigoberto Urán opened the action, after which Roglič responded. Pierre Latour and Tiesj Benoot also gave it a go, but it was Tom Dumoulin who calmed things down.
The race stayed together, and it looked like a sprint finish in Saint-Christo-en-Jarez. Wout van Aert went from a long distance to beat Daryl Impey and Egan Bernal to the line. After Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, this is his third victory since the corona break.
Bernal was the only one of the GC riders to take a small lead over the others. Due to the bonus seconds on the line, he was 4 seconds ahead of the other top men. The most notable riders behind were Chris Froome and Marc Soler. The four-time Tour winner had to let go in the final and crossed the line at 5:23 pm. For the Movistar climber, the gap was greater, 10:28.
Stage winner and overall leader, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I was still quite tired after Milan-SanRemo. So I did not immediately see this victory coming. Although I did have the mindset to go for it. I had also indicated that in the meeting yesterday and also during the stage. The boys did a fantastic job. It also indicates how we function as a team and what the atmosphere is like. When riders like Tom Dumoulin, Steven Kruijswijk and Primoz Roglic are working for you, it certainly gives you extra motivation. This is a very nice victory and it also was a perfect situation for us. So, as you can see, it works both ways. On the one hand we want to keep our GC guys in the front and on the other hand I still had the opportunity to do my own sprint. So you see, when the opportunities arise, I certainly will not hesitate to seize them. I will definitely enjoy riding in the yellow jersey tomorrow.”
2nd on the stage and overall, Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott): “Everyone is pretty iffy at the moment with how they’re feeling, I think a lot of guys, it’s their first race back. For me I actually felt pretty good, so I backed myself a bit for the end there and I actually had a good feeling. To lose to Wout, it’s ok, it would have been nice to beat him. But to walk away with second today on quite a hard day, it’s really nice. For the final run in I knew I needed to be close enough to Wout, so I had Bernal and Kwiatowski between me. I tried to take a run on the right and they also went right, so I kind of lost my speed, I came around them but Wout already had a bit of a gap. I was running up, catching him a bit, but he was too strong.”
5th on the stage and overall, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates): “It was a tough stage and very hot and humid also. I suffered a bit but in the end I had good legs but just maybe not the best position. There were many contenders to be in the front but that is to be expected with the level of riders here. So I just focused to be in the best position for the sprint. I didn’t get quite in the right position but top-5 was okay.”
6th on the stage and overall, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana): “The final was quite technical, so the right position was a key moment. Thus, I tried to keep my position in front and finally I had to sprint twice, firstly, to enter the last corner and for the second time at the finish line. I think it was a good start of the race, 6th place is not bad at all. I felt good today, the beginning was a tough and fast one and I felt myself a bit tired after Milano-Sanremo, but later I started feeling better and better. I think I practically recovered after my crash at Trittico Lombardo, so now everything looks good for me. The last hour of the race was really fast and a bit nervous, we are closer and close to the Tour de France and we already feel this atmosphere. In general I am happy with this day, so let’s keep on going ahead.”
16th, Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe): “The Dauphiné got off with a very fast stage as Jumbo-Visma set a strong pace in the front. The guys worked really hard all day and kept me in an excellent position in the final kilometres. It was a tricky finish but I crossed the line in the leading group, so overall, I’m happy with the start of the race.”
22nd, Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma): “This is really great. It is nice to achieve this together. Wout wanted to go for it this morning and this stage was a great opportunity. We were at the front on the final climb and Primoz and I countered the necessary attacks. Luckily, I still had enough energy left for a lead-out after Steven continued to pull to the top of the climb. I think I did a lead-out of about eight hundred metres. It is very special that Wout finishes it off like that.”
Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 1 Result:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma in 5:27:42
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar
5. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
7. Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Pro Cycling
8. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis.
Critérium du Dauphiné Overall After Stage 1:
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma in 5:27:32
2. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:04
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos at 0:06
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 0:10
5. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates
6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
7. Sergio Higuita (Col) EF Pro Cycling
8. Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale
9. Primoz Roglic (Slo) Jumbo-Visma
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis.
Gran Piemonte 2020
George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) took the 104th Gran Piemonte on Wednesday. On the penultimate climb of the day, the New Zealander broke away from the other favourites and held off a fast-finishing Diego Ulissi. Mathieu van der Poel was third. Bennett gave Jumbo-Visma its second success of the day, after Wout van Aert had won the opening stage of the Dauphiné.
Petr Rikunov was the first to escape, but the Gazprom-RusVelo rider was not allowed a gap. However, another escape attempt was not long in coming, as Mikkel Frølich Honoré and Callum Scotson joined forces. A little later they were joined by Philipp Walsleben and Joey Rosskopf. They took almost 6 minutes.
The leading group was kept between 5 and 6 minutes. On the first of two big circuits around Barolo, the peloton, led by Jumbo-Visma and Astana, started to reduce the differences. At 52 kilometres from the finish, Scotson was the first to be dropped. With 50 kilometres to go they only had 3 minutes. Once the margin was reduced to 2 minutes, Jumbo-Visma and Astana disappeared from the front. Some riders tried to take advantage of the deadlock and attacked, but peace was quickly restored by Astana again and they were helped by Ineos and Israel Start-Up Nation. The Alpecin-Fenix team brought their leader, Mathieu van der Poel, nearer the front.
25 kilometres and the lead had shrunk to a minute. Rosskopf accelerated, but Honoré and Walsleben responded. Several riders crashed in the peloton on a descent, including Alpecin rider Kristian Sbaragli, who had to crawl out from under a guardrail, Cameron Meyer, Dion Smith, Matteo Jorgenson, Gino Mäder were also involved.
All escapees were caught at 80 kilometres from the finish. On the climb of La Morra, Jumbo-Visma’s Chris Harper pulled hard on the front. Things got serious as George Bennett opened the finalé with a sharp attack. Gianni Moscon countered, after which Mathieu van der Poel went after the Italian of Team Ineos.
On the descent of La Morra, which was wet due to the rain, Moscon, Alessandro De Marchi, Robert Stannard, Attila Valter and Ion Izagirre got on the wheel of Van der Poel. Bennett had a good gap and started the final climb to Barolo with 15 seconds. Diego Ulissi came close to catching the New Zealander, but he managed to hold on. Mathieu van der Poel finished third at 4 seconds, in the same time as Aleksandr Vlasov, Simon Geschke, Alex Aranburu and Dries Devenyns.
Gran Piemonte winner, George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma): “After GranPiemonte and Il Lombardia, I’ll go back to work as a domestique, so when I saw my opportunity today, I knew I had to take it. I told my teammates that I wanted to try for the win today and they did a wonderful job. They made the race super hard in the final climb. I was hoping to stay away until the end and I did.”
2nd, Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates): “When you get this close to winning and you can’t take it, you are left with regret. The team was fantastic, they were close to me in key moments trying to close the gap on Bennett after I tried to fight back on the last climb, having not had the legs to follow the New Zealander. My teammates were great in reducing the gap, then on the last climb I went from very far out to try to bridge across, but I didn’t make it. The condition is good, I hope a victory will come soon.”
3rd, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I am satisfied with my third place, of course. I wanted to win but I think overall I did a good job to keep up with so many great climbers. I tried to hold my own pace on the last climb but unfortunately I was not close enough to try for the win at the final sprint. It was a hard day, I felt good, not super, but things are getting better and better.”
12th, Simone Petilli (Circus-Wanty Gobert): “The rain in the final made the roads very slippery, which was not in my advantage. On the last climb it was impossible to go out of the saddle and on the descent I avoided taking risks. It’s a pity, because I had the legs to finish in the top 10. I want to thank the team, because they support me well each race! I’m happy to be able to race on Italian roads again! I felt very good after two big weeks of racing in France, and this Gran Piemonte gives me a lot of confidence for my big goal on Saturday. I hope to shine at the Tour of Lombardia, my home race!”
Gran Piemonte Result:
1. George Bennett (NZ) Jumbo-Visma in 4:38:23
2. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
3. Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:04
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana
5. Simon Geschke (Ger) CCC
6. Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana
7. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:07
9. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
10. Attila Valter (Hun) CCC.
Il Lombardia 2020: Minor Route Alteration Distance Changed From 243 TO 231KM
Starting from Bergamo it’s a 231km course with Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo, Sormano, Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia in the final, before the classic arrival on the Como lakefront.
There is a small change for the 114th edition of Il Lombardia presented by UBI Banca. The route of the race organised by RCS Sport/La Gazzetta dello Sport, scheduled for Saturday 15 August, will be 12km shorter than previously announced.
After having climbed Colle Brianza, the peloton will now immediately face the descent towards Oggiono, without the initially planned detour for Lecco/Valmadrera and the subsequent return to Oggiono. This amendment means a total distance of 12km less compared to what was previously announced.
The change does not alter the distinctive features of Il Lombardia presented by UBI Banca, with the start from Bergamo and classic arrival on the Como lakefront, and the Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo, Sormano, Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia to climb along the route, totalling 231km.
After departing Bergamo in a southerly direction, the route crosses the Bergamo plain in its first 40km to head up the Cavallina valley to Casazza where the Colle Gallo – the first ascent of the race – is tackled. Colle is followed by a fast descent returning from the Seriana valley to Bergamo, then the route re-enters lowland roads that lead to Brianza. There’s a short passage to Colle Brianza and a descent to Oggiono, then the route passes through Pusiano, Canzo, Asso and down the descent to Onno and on to Bellagio. This is where the Ghisallo ascent – with gradients of up to 14% on wide roads with hairpin bends – begins.
The following very fast descent is on long straights and ends at Maglio where, immediately after a right turn, the climb of the Colma di Sormano begins. After a few kilometres of medium slopes, and a few hundred meters after Sormano, the route heads up the Muro di Sormano on a narrow, very steep road – 2km long with a gradient up to 15%. It’s partly inside a small wood, with very narrow bends and slopes that, for around 1km, exceed 25% up to almost 30%.
Once past the Colma, the route follows the descent to Nesso, where the riders then take the coastal road to reach Como. Next they face the hard climb to Civiglio (614m) with slopes almost always around 10% – and with a marked narrowing of the roadway at the top of the climb – before going back down and through Como to hit the last climb of San Fermo della Battaglia (397m). There is one feed zone, at km 128-131.
The last 10km start inside the area of Como on wide avenues, up to the railway underpass where the final ascent of San Fermo della Battaglia begins. The slope is around 7% (max 10%). The route passes several hairpin bends up to the brow at around 5km from the finish. The descent, on a wide, well-paved road ends at the last kilometre.
The peloton on the Como lakefront in 2019’s Il Lombardia:
UAE Team Emirates for Il Lombardia
A squad built for more lumpy terrain will head to Il Lombardia – a 243km race from Bergamo to the beautiful lake side town of Como.
Fabio Aru will lead a team that features four of his Italian countrymen in form of Valerio Conti, Diego Ulissi, Edward Ravsi and Alessandro Covi – along with Brandon McNulty and Aleksandr Riabushenko.
Il Lombardia – AUG 15
Luke Roberts – Team Sunweb coach: “Next weekend we head to the second Monument of the season – Il Lombardia. A race that is normally very hard, is going to be made even harder this year with the date change. Not only do the riders have the difficult parcours to contend with but the hot temperatures forecast will make the race even more tough. We have got some good options to go for a result in the race with a strong team. Wilco is in good form with his GC 7th at Tour de Pologne and Michael’s good shape after his 3rd at Milano-Sanremo last weekend will also be really helpful in our collective quest to bring home a result as a team. We’re looking forward and really motivated for what is set to be a unique edition of Il Lombardia.”
Nico Denz (GER)
Chad Haga (USA)
Chris Hamilton (AUS)
Jai Hindley (AUS)
Wilco Kelderman (NED)
Michael Matthews (AUS)
Florian Stork (GER).
Michael Matthews, 2nd in Sanremo:
Definitely no World Championships in 2020
The 2020 World Championships in Switzerland are definitely canceled. Following the decisions of the federal government, the organisation does not think it is appropriate to organise an international event. Eleven events were drawn up over a period of eight days. The organisation calls the restrictions to apply social distancing and to regulate the flow of spectators an “insurmountable obstacle”.
“We are sad and disappointed,” respond Grégory Devaud and Alexandre Debons of the organising committee. “We have worked hard on this for almost two years to create a beautiful event on an exceptional course. Despite the limitations, we continued out of passion for the World Championships and the sporting competition, but also for the beautiful landscapes of our cantons.”
“We are aware that the national and global health situation requires the necessary precautions and we also value everyone who has been affected by the coronavirus,” he said.
No 2020 Worlds, not in Switzerland anyway :
Grand Départ 2021 In Brittany: Brest Sets Sails
Passing of the peloton during stage six of the 2018 Tour de France between Brest and Mûr-de-Bretagne
Ø The organisers of the Tour de France announced at a press conference at the Regional Council of Brittany in Rennes that the Grand Départ of the 2021 Tour de France will take place in Brest. Finistère’s point will host the start of the race for the 4th time in history, following 1952, 1974 and 2008.
Ø Four all-Brittany stages will be on the programme of the Tour beginning on 26 June, with stages that will likely be influential for the Yellow Jersey contenders.
Ø The Grand Départ initially planned in Copenhagen has been postponed until 2022.
It is said that when the wind blows, no one navigates turbulence better than Bretons. In the past few weeks, they have shown themselves to be up to the challenge and opportunity. They have also demonstrated their loyalty to the Tour de France when the skies darkened over Copenhagen. The congested 2021 summer sporting calendar has forced the Tour’s first visit to Denmark to be postponed until 2022. Instead of heading north, the 108th edition will travel west and its first stage will be held in Brest, which is only second to Paris in terms of hosting the Grand Départ. In previous Tour starts from the tip of Brittany, the way was paved for Fausto Coppi’s success in 1952, Eddy Merckx’s last victory in 1974, and then Carlos Sastre’s in 2008.
After the 32nd visit of the Grande Boucle in Brest, which first appeared on the race programme in 1906, the route will be laid out with the intention of exploring Brittany’s Armor coastal region and its inland Argoat territories. The diversity of the landscapes makes it possible to create selective stages and will thus put the onus on the favourites to live up to their responsibilities straight away. Details will be announced for these four all-Brittany stages during the presentation of the Tour on 29 October at the Palais des Congrès in Paris.
The Tour de France in Brittany: key numbers
● 170 stages held with the start or arrival in the region since 1906
● 33 different cities in Brittany have hosted a stage
● 6 Grands Départs have taken place in Brittany: in Brest (1952-74-2008) and in Rennes (1964), Plumelec (1985) et Saint-Brieuc (1995).
● 153 Breton riders have raced in the Tour between 1905 and 2019 (record participation in 1958: 14)
● 4 Bretons have won the Tour de France: Lucien Petit-Breton (1907-08), Jean Robic (1947), Louison Bobet (1953-54-55) and Bernard Hinault (1978-79-81-82-85)
More information about the Tour de France on www.letour.fr/en/
Prudhomme Asks Tour Fans to Wear Face Masks
The clear and unmistakable message from Christian Prudhomme to the spectators at the Tour de France: “Wear a face masks at the side of the road. Not only in the mandatory zones such as at the start and the finish and on the cols, but along the entire route.”
Prudhomme makes his appeal via Nicematin.com. “Covid-19 or not, there will inevitably be spectators along the course.” the Tour boss said. “But if you love the Tour and its champions, please wear a face mask everywhere. Not only in places where this will be mandatory and where we will have checks.”
As previously announced, the advertising caravan will be limited and the organisation is preparing a “health bubble” around the riders. “2020 will not be the year to ask for autographs and selfies. Compare it with the Wimbledon final or the Champions League football. You do not ask Federer or Messi to sign at the match,” said Prudhomme.
“But once the pandemic is over, the Tour will return to its original form and cycling will once again become that wonderful and popular sport,” he concluded on a positive note.
Tour boss, Christian Prudhomme:
Tour of Guangxi and Tour of Chongming Island Canceled
The Tour of Guangxi for men and women and Tour of Chongming Island for women, will not be held this year. These races have been uncertain since the Chinese government decided to end most sporting events in 2020.
The UCI has now deleted them from the international calendar. The Tour of Chongming Island, part of the Women’s WorldTour, was originally scheduled for May 7-9, but had already been postponed to October 23-25 due to the corona virus. But that date has also turned out not to be feasible.
The Tour of Guangxi, also a WorldTour race for both men and women, was also removed from the calendar. The multi-day men’s competition, won by Enric Mas last year, was scheduled for November 5-10. The race for women, in which Chloe Hosking beat Alison Jackson and Marianne Vos a year ago, was to be held on the final day of the men’s race.
No Guangxi in 2020:
Quintana is on Track for the Tour
The Tour de l’Ain was mainly about the impressive climbing train of Jumbo-Visma, and the battle between Primož Roglič and Egan Bernal. Nairo Quintana finished somewhat quietly in third overall place and seems ready for the Tour de France.
Quintana made an impression before the corona break, by winning two French races and triumphing in the queen stage of Paris-Nice. In his first race since the corona stop, the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, Quintana failed to impress.
In the Tour de l’Ain, however, the 30-year-old rider showed that his preparation for the Tour is going smoothly. “We managed to improve after the race on Mont Ventoux. The Dénivelé Challenge was the first race since the corona break and that makes it quite difficult. However, I already feel a lot better.”
Quintana will start in his last race before the Tour: the Critérium du Dauphiné. “So we have one last test before the Tour. However, we don’t feel any stress, as we are almost in top shape.”
Last Tour test for Quintana:
Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär Sign for Three Years
The Belgian Greg Van Avermaet, 35, reigning Olympic Champion, and the Swiss Michaël Schär, 33, both currently riding for the CCC team, have committed beginning 1 January 2021 for three years with the AG2R-La Mondiale team, which will become on that date the AG2R-Citroën Team.
Greg Van Avermaet: “I am happy and motivated to start a new adventure. I have just spent ten beautiful years in the structures of Jim Ochowicz and I am embarking on a new challenge. I am happy that Vincent Lavenu has shown such confidence in me, and I intend to give my best in order to achieve great results. The prospect of working with Oliver Naesen, with the goal of winning classics, is particularly exciting. My goal is always the same: to win races like the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, stages of the Tour de France or wear the yellow jersey for as long as possible.”
Professional since 2007
Olympic Road Race Champion 2016
Winner Paris-Roubaix 2017, Het Nieuwsblad 2016 and 2017, Tirreno-Adriatico 2016, GP de Montréal 2016 and 2019.
Michaël Schär: “I’m very excited to begin writing a new chapter in my career. I was won over by the sports project presented by Vincent Lavenu, who is a true cycling enthusiast. I live in the same village as Mathias Frank and he has always talked to me about the AG2R LA MONDIALE team in glowing terms. We can achieve good performances, especially in the classics with the duo Greg Van Avermaet, with whom I have been riding since 2011, and Oliver Naesen. I will be very happy to help them achieve big goals.”
Professional since 2006.
Vincent Lavenu: “It is a great satisfaction to have secured the signings of Greg Van Avermaet and Michaël Schär. Greg is a great champion, showing incredible consistency at the highest level. His experience, his rigour, his hard work will be important in our development project. He will be an example for all our young riders. His bond with his friend Oliver Naesen, with whom he sometimes trains with, will be an added advantage. Michaël is one of the best teammates in the world. He will be invaluable in protecting our leaders, whether in stage races or in the classics. He is also a very good time trialist. He will be a pilot fish whose experience will contribute a great deal.”
After Pascal Richard in 1997, this is the second time that the reigning Olympic Champion has signed with the team led by Vincent Lavenu. Note that our team has had another Olympic Champion in its ranks with Arturas Kasputis, who won a gold medal in the team pursuit with the Soviet Union at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
Van Avermaet going French:
Naesen on the Arrival of Van Avermaet
Oliver Naesen is still the undisputed leader of the AG2R-La Mondiale team in the spring classics, but from 2021 he will be joined by his fellow countryman and training buddy Greg Van Avermaet. “I think this is great news. This forces me to step out of my comfort zone,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws.
The French WorldTour team is working hard to strengthen the selection for next season. AG2R-La Mondiale (AG2R-Citroën next year) confirmed the arrival of sprinter Marc Sarreau and Damien Touzé. Greg Van Avermaet and his loyal helper Michael Schär had already signed a three-year contract on Monday.
This means that the team can count on two leaders in the cobbled classics next year. Naesen spoke about the arrival of Van Avermaet: “Everything I was sure of in recent years is no longer self-evident. This gives a new drive. I will now have to fight for my place next to Greg.”
Naesen already extended his contract for three seasons in May. “I was already wondering whether it would be easier to win a major classic in a team with more leaders. Every now and then I will have to sacrifice myself so that I can miss out on a good result, but that will also happen the other way around.”
“Sometimes I will also benefit from Greg’s help. Hopefully I will win that big fish,” said Naesen.
Romain Bardet joins Team Sunweb from 2021 onwards, signing a two-year contract
An incredible climber, Bardet has tasted success at the most prodigious race in the world – the Tour de France – where he has won three stages, finished both second and third on GC alongside two sixth place finishes, and has claimed the famous polka dot jersey as King of the Mountains. Despite such palmarès, Bardet can’t be pigeonholed as only a pure climber; the Frenchman has also excelled in challenging one-day races. Most notably, his silver medal at the World Championships in Innsbruck, third place at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and second place in brutal conditions at Strade Bianche highlight his versatility and tactical awareness to compete on a variety of terrain. Still only 29-years-old, Bardet has been a professional since 2012 and brings a wealth of experience of competing at the highest level in the biggest races to the team’s blossoming pool of promising riders.
Romain Bardet: “I am very happy to have signed for Team Sunweb. When considering options outside my current team, it was really important for me to find a team that works progressively, involving the latest technology in equipment and other domains. I also wanted a team with a clear vision on the sport and one that is a member of MPCC. At Team Sunweb I have the opportunity to start with no specific expectations or a specific race to target. Instead we will focus first on the basics and the fundamentals, working hard and with dedication to improve on all different areas as an athlete – after this we will look to race schedules and goals. This opportunity comes at the right moment in my career and I am very motivated to start working with the team and its group of very promising riders. I want to express my thanks to my current team AG2R La Mondiale, who helped me to develop until now, my time with them will always have a special place in my memories.”
Iwan Spekenbrink: “We are very excited that Romain joins the team. He is a great rider who brings many possibilities, versatile qualities and a very respective palmarès. Our talks together have shown that he is very dedicated to give it his all and get the most out of his potential, and he is eager for our specialists to work with him to focus on improvements so that he can reach that.
“He will be a great addition for the team in a multitude of races; with him we strengthen our block of current options in the finales and tactically have multiple scenarios to try to win. It will be hard work, with some classics in the first part of the season and then we’ll assess and plan the next block, including deciding which grand tour to tackle, with which goals.
“He comes from a respectable, professional environment at AG2R La Mondiale, who have done a very good job with Romain and we hope and believe to keep building on that.”
Romain Bardet, off to Sunweb:
Iván García Cortina to Reinforce Movistar Team’s Bet on Future
24-year-old Spaniard, one of the country’s biggest hopes on both classics and sprints, joins Telefónica-backed squad as a reference for the upcoming seasons.
The Movistar Team announced Monday Iván García Cortina (Gijón, ESP; 1995), currently riding for the Bahrain-McLaren squad, has reached an agreement for the next three years (2021-23) with the organisation managed by Eusebio Unzué.
Cortina is Spain’s biggest future hope for one-day races, especially those with cobblestones. A lover of the Northern classics – where he’s already shone at with a great breakaway during the 2018 Ronde van Vlaanderen – he left his best signs of quality just before the 2020 lockdown, with a great stage victory in Paris-Nice that he added to his other pro success so far, another sprint finish in the 2019 Tour of California. Last year, the Asturian already got top results in WorldTour events such as the GP Montréal (3rd), the BinckBank Tour (7th) or indeed Paris-Nice, with another 2nd-place stage finish.
Cortina’s arrival reinforces the quality of the Movistar Team’s list of Spanish riders, which will continue to include in 2021, amongst other names, Alejandro Valverde, Enric Mas and Marc Soler.
Iván García Cortina: “I’m so happy to become a Movistar Team rider as of 2021. I’ve been at my current team for four years and always felt at ease there, but I feel like it’s time for a change, to seek new ambitions, new goals, new motivation – and I think this is the right team to join this squad. It’s our home team, and we’re chasing a common goal – I’ve always had one race in mind, one personal gamble, which at the same time is one of very few big races this team hasn’t won yet, which is Paris-Roubaix. Dreams exist to be made real, and we’ll fight for it starting next year.”
Eusebio Unzué: “Despite still being a young rider, Iván has already got the experience of a veteran. He’s a competitor which will give us a chance to turn many different kinds of sprint finishes into real winning chances, but above that, he’ll allow us going into the big cobbled classics with a real shot at a good result. Iván has to be one of the big favourites at those races in the future.”
Iván García Cortina:
Damien Touzé and Marc Sarreau Sign for Two Years
The French cyclists, Damien Touzé (Team Cofidis) and Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ), 24 and 27 years old, have committed beginning 1 January 2021 for two years with the AG2R-La Mondiale Team, which will become on that date the AG2R-Citroën Team.
Damien Touzé: “The project to focus on the classics around Oliver Naesen convinced me to join. I want to progress in this area and to help the team win a monument. I like those races, and I think the profiles suit my strengths well. I know that the level will be very high on the team, but that makes it all even more motivating. From a personal point of view, I want to win a race. I was not far away from a win last year, in particular at the French Championships, so now it is up to me to make it happen.”
Born 7 July 1996, 24 years old
Professional since 2016
3rd French National Championships (2019); 6th U23 World Road Championships (2017).
Marc Sarreau: “Over the course of the discussions, I was attracted by Vincent Lavenu’s descriptions of the project focusing on the classics and sprinting opportunities, which in the end convinced me. I am happy to start this new adventure after six years with Groupama FDJ. I still have personal ambitions and I still want to improve. I know that the level will be very high with great leaders for the classics like Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet, and it will be very motivating to be with them at the biggest races on the calendar. From a personal point of view, I am focused on a victory for myself in the UCI WorldTour, which continues to be my goal. I hope to achieve it with the AG2R-Citroën Team.”
Born 10 June 1993, 27 years old
Professional since 2015
Twelve victories including :
Winner of the Coupe de France (2019).
Vincent Lavenu: “Marc Sarreau already has a great deal of experience. He has won regularly since he joined the professionals. His consistency has also enabled him to win the general classification of the Coupe de France last year ahead of Benoît Cosnefroy. He is very close to getting a great victory in the UCI WorldTour and we are going to do everything to ensure that he succeeds with AG2R-Citroën Team. Damien Touzé is younger but he has already shown his qualities as a puncheur, especially last year by finishing third at the French Championships. He aspires to progress in order to get closer to the best. He and Marc Sarreau are two riders for the future.”
Marc Sarreau won the general classification of the Coupe de France in 2019, beating Benoît Cosnefroy!
Israel Start-Up Nation Strengthens with Bevin and Berwick
Patrick Bevin will ride for Israel Start-Up Nation after this season. The New Zealander has signed a two-year contract. The team also signed the promising Australian, Sebastian Berwick for three seasons.
Bevin will become an important link in the support rider for Chris Froome at Israel Start-Up Nation. At the same time, he will be allowed to race for his own chances in other events. “We believe he can also be of value in competitions where he never had the opportunity to go for results before,” said team manager Kjell Carlström.
According to the New Zealand rider, he will be in an ambitious team. “There is a desire to grow and compete in the world’s greatest competitions, and that ambition is tempting. This progressive attitude, coupled with a strong focus on team culture, creates an incredibly positive environment and I knew that was something I wanted to be a part of. I think I can give the sport more and I believe Israel Start-Up Nation is the right place for that.”
Berwick comes from the continental St George Cycling Team. The Australian is known as a promising climber and was second in the Herald Sun Tour this season. Carlström says: “In Sebastian we see a rider who can benefit greatly from our leaders Froome and Dan Martin. He will have the opportunity to develop with us and we will see how far he can get in the coming years.”
Patrick Bevin in the Worlds’19 TT:
Michael Woods Becomes Froome’s Right-Hand Man
Israel Start-Up Nation continues announce rider transfers. The WorldTour team has introduced Michael Woods as “right-hand man to Chris Froome in 2021.” In the classics he is assigned the role of leader.
With Michael Woods, who has been employed by Jonathan Vaughters since 2016, Israel Start-Up Nation is a solid servant for Froome. The Canadian is now 33, but at ISN they see him as an “important puzzle piece” in the team for 2021, which has continued to strengthen since the announcement of the arrival of Chris Froome.
After Daryl Impey, Carl Frederik Hagen and Patrick Bevin, Woods is now the next addition. Not just any transfer, it turns out. “Sylvan Adams (team owner ISN) And Paulo Saldanha (performance manager of the team) are at the root of the fact that I am a professional cyclist today,” said Woods.
“I met Paulo in 2013 and he immediately took me under his wing. He then advised me to say goodbye to my regular job because he felt I had the capabilities to become a professional cyclist, even though I was already 27 at the time. Paulo put me in touch with Sylvan and they have me together ‘ invested ‘. With their support and belief in my abilities, I have been able to work my way to the top.”
Saldanha later also became Woods’ personal coach. The Canadian has achieved his greatest success in the past two years with a podium place at the World Cup, stage win in the Vuelta (both 2018) and a win in Milan-Turin in 2019. Woods will therefore be able to work even better with his coach next year. “He will be a weapon in our team,” Saldanha is convinced. “He can win at the highest level and he will have a very positive impact on our team culture.”
Woods: “I had five great years at Slipstream Sports (EF Pro Cycling), Which did not make the decision easy. But I have not forgotten how Sylvan and Paulo believed in me from day one. Israel Start-Up Nation will not only have the potential to win the Tour in 2021, but also to compete in the rest of the WorldTour calendar. We must be able, also with Dan Martin, to have the winning combination in house for the Italian and Ardennes classics.”
Trentin to Leave CCC
Matteo Trentin is also going to leave CCC. The Italian still has a contract until the end of next year, but according to La Gazzetta he will be leaving soon. He has several options, but he would prefer UAE Team Emirates.
The former European champion left Mitchelton-Scott at the end of 2019 on a two years contract with CCC. But just like Greg Van Avermaet, and others, the Italian will br riding for a different team in 2021.
All riders who were still under contract for 2021 were asked by CCC team manager Jim Ochowicz to wait until 1st August. If there was still no certainty about a new main sponsor, then – who wanted to – could look for a new team. Matteo Trentin will therefore also leave. According to La Gazzetta, Trentin, who has multiple options, but UAE Team Emirates is the team that he prefers.
Circus-Wanty Gobert Signs Rein Taaramäe
According to WielerFlits, 33-year-old Estonian rider, Rein Taaramäe will join Circus-Wanty Gobert next year.
After a short time as a stagieire at Cofidis, Taaramäe became a professional with the French team in 2008. In 2011 he achieved his first big success with a stage win in the Vuelta. In 2015 he moved to Astana. It was one of his best seasons, with many wins, including the Vuelta a Burgos and the Norwegian Arctic Race.
He only stayed with Astana for one year as he signed a two-year deal with Katusha. In 2016 he won a stage in the Giro d’Italia and he achieved stage and overall victory in the Tour of Slovenia. Since 2018, Taaramäe has been with Total Direct Energie, but he will leave at the end of this year.
At Circus-Wanty Gobert, the Estonian may play a free role. In recent years we have seen Taaramäe more in the role of attacker and on a good day he can also get over the mountains. From 2009 to last year, Rein Taaramäe started in at least one Grand Tour every year.
Corona Test for Tour Riders Difficult for European Champs Riders
Greg Van Avermaet has set his sights on combining the European Championships and the Tour de France. According to Het Nieuwsblad, the 35-year-old has received permission from his CCC team to participate, but a mandatory corona test prior to the Tour is an extra hurdle.
Van Avermaet – who should share the lead in Brittany with Oliver Naesen and Jasper Stuyven – would like to compete for the European title. “It may not be ideal three days before the start of Tour, but it is still an extra chance of winning. With 170 kilometres, it is also a good training for the Tour anyway.”
The road race of the European Championships will be run on Wednesday 26 August. The organisation arranged for participants to be flown by helicopter from Brittany to Nice in the south of France, where three days later the Grand Départ of the Tour is scheduled. However, ASO wants all riders take a corona test on Wednesday evening at 6 pm. If the Tour organiser does not adopt a more flexible position, a combination of the European Championship and the Tour will be impossible.
Euro champs and Tour for Van Avermaet?
Dylan Groenewegen Wants to Contact Fabio Jakobsen as Soon as Possible
Richard Plugge, team manager of Jumbo-Visma, says that Dylan Groenewegen would like to get in touch with Fabio Jakobsen quickly. “Fabio is a friend of his. He never wanted this. He wants to let him know as soon as possible.”
In an interview with the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, Groenewegen is still completely devastated, said Plugge. “Still. He wants to return to normal contact with Fabio as soon as possible. Fabio is a friend of his. They know each other well. He never wanted this either. He wants to let him know as soon as possible. Of course he deviates from his line and commits a violation. Only the consequences are so severe.”
“Nobody wants that, and nobody could have foreseen it. Please, let’s hope everything turns out okay with Fabio. But as a team we now have to take care of Dylan. And furthermore, I will absolutely make sure that this can never happen again. I want to play a pioneering role in this. The first talks have started: we urgently need to look at safety in races in a different way. This must be a turning point.”
“It must be different,” Plugge is convinced. “Enough is enough. If not, we will have tragedies like this in the future. With a rider who is physically in terrible creases and another who is mentally completely broken. Whether Groenewegen will be a top sprinter again? We will take good care of him in the coming weeks, so that he can recover as a person first. And hopefully he can return as a rider and sprinter again. I think so.”
Tour de Pologne stage 1 finish:
Fabio Jakobsen Returns to The Netherlands
Good news from Poland: Fabio Jakobsen will returned to the Netherlands on Wednesday. “A week ago we feared the worst, but that he can now return to the Netherlands is fantastic news,” Patrick Lefevere, team manager of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, told RTBF.
Jakobsen crashed in the Tour of Poland last week, after a clash with countryman Dylan Groenewegen. The Dutch champion sustained serious injuries and was kept in an artificial coma for some time, but has now regained consciousness and can communicate via text messages.
Jakobsen will return to Holland by private plane. In his own country, he will continue to work on his long rehabilitation in the university hospital. Yvan Vanmol, who works as a team doctor at Deceuninck – Quick-Step, is optimistic about Jakobsen’s recovery. “What we are still concerned about is the aesthetic damage and possibly the muscle group around his mouth.”
“We do assume that Fabio will be a rider again. We share positive messages with him. That way he has hope of recovery.” Vanmol sees the Dutch sprinter on a racing bike again in the future. “But I don’t dare to put a term on it.” Deceuninck – Quick-Step announces in a press release that Jakobsen will be transferred to the LUMC in Leiden.
Yvan Vanmol, team doctor at Deceuninck – Quick-Step, gave Sporza an update on the situation. Jakobsen is mobile and can stand up again, according to Vanmol. He also has no fractures to his lower limbs. “You can safely speak of a miracle,” the doctor said. “His sinuses are intact, just like his eye sockets. He has no brain damage and is fully mobile. The greatest damage has been done to his teeth, which he has lost. But aesthetic surgery has progressed so much in recent years that I suspect that the traces of that fall will barely be visible later on.”
Previous reports from Poland that there was a shattered windpipe turn out to be incorrect. “The airways were intubated immediately after the fall, but they were not shattered. Talking is not possible at the moment, but Fabio understands and understands everything,” Vanmol explains.
Vanmol is optimistic about the recovery of the 23-year-old sprinter. “But if you ask me if Jakobsen will become a rider again, I have very few doubts about that and more than good hope.”
Fabio Jakobsen on the mend:
Broken Rib for Campenaerts
In the team time trial, on day one of the Czech Tour, almost the entire NTT team crashed, including Victor Campenaerts. He finished the stage race, but did not come out of the battle unharmed. “I probably broke a rib.”
The NTT Racing Team were last on the team time trial stage due to the crash. Fortunately, the damage was limited to abrasions, they said afterwards, but the consequences for the world hour record holder turned out to be more serious than initially thought. “I have probably broken a rib and still suffer from a sore back muscle,” Campenaerts said to Het Nieuwsblad.
“Not ideal for cycling, let alone for an aerodynamic time trial position. I doubt whether I will be one hundred percent recovered for the Belgian championships time trial on August 20th.” Campenaerts will compete against Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel, both in top form. “If I see those two performing, I would start as an underdog at that BK anyway. But now even more.” At the European Championships in Plouay, Campenaerts will start in both the road and the time trial.
CAS Upholds Four-Year Suspension on Ibai Salas
The Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has suspended Ibai Salas for four years. The Spaniard, who rode for Burgos-BH until 2018, has been found guilty of violating anti-doping rules.
Salas’ doping case has been around for some time. The Spanish rider was suspended for four years by the Spanish anti-doping agency (AEPSAD) in October 2018, after abnormal values in his biological passport were detected in the period from January 25 to August 3, 2017. But four months later, the decision was overturned by the Spanish Administrative Sports Court. It ruled that the biological passport should only be used as additional evidence, not as the sole reason for suspension.
In March 2019, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed to the CAS requesting that Salas be suspended for four years. The arbitration panel found that blood passport values were “highly abnormal and indicated a high probability of doping.” Nor did Salas give credible physiological or pathological reasons to explain the deviations in his values. In addition, the moment of the deviating values with regard to the competition was striking.
That is why the CAS decided to impose a suspension of four years on Salas. All results by the Spaniard have also been scrapped from January 25, 2017. As the rider was free to race pending the assessment of his case, his suspension began on the date of the CAS ruling, which is August 4, 2020.
Philippe Gilbert Becomes a Father for the Third Time
Philippe Gilbert and his partner Bettina are expecting a child early next year. The classic specialist of Lotto Soudal announced via Instagram. He already has two sons from his previous marriage, Alan and Alexandre.
Gilbert resumed his season in Italy last week. In the sweltering Strade Bianche he crossed the finish line in 25th place and four days later he also rode Milan-Turin. In Milan-San Remo, Gilbert could have joined the list of riders who have won all five monuments: Rik Van Looy, Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck. The 2012 World champion will still have opportunities, as his contract runs until the end of 2022.
The happy couple:
Contador and Van der Poel, Business Partners in Innovative Sports Nutrition Start-Up
Attentive spectators might have noticed the typical gold coloured bidon or black and gold wrapped energy bars in video footage and photos of Alberto’s recent “Everesting” event that allowed him to set a new world record that was valid until recently.
Today, the Belgian based company in nutritional supplements and DNA based performance advice and the former multiple grand Tour winner, are officially announcing a long-term partnership, whereby ‘El Pistolero’ will join the house of co-founder Mathieu Van der Poel as global ambassador of the 4GOLD brand.
For the innovative start-up in sports supplements with an exclusively online sales model and sales already spanning multiple European and some major overseas markets, the agreement with Contador is a next step in the further internationalisation of the 4GOLD brand.
Mathieu Van der Poel (co-founder 4GOLD): “I am extremely pleased that Alberto – who I’ve always admired for his combative riding style and who as a top class athlete, is very well placed to assess the quality and benefits of nutritional supplements – has agreed to join us in advocating the unique approach of our brand and the quality of our products”.
Alberto Contador (new global ambassador 4GOLD): “I’m really happy to be part of 4Gold. Although you leave professional cycling, in the end you train just as much or more than when you were active and because of my friendship with Van der Poel I started to try their products for my training. Mathieu and I are completely different riders, from different generations, but we have great admiration for each other. For me, Van der Poel is the Lionel Messi of cycling, a rider who generates interest wherever he competes, however small the race. I am proud to be part of this team, to share the ambassadorial status with Mathieu. Let’s hope it’s for a long time and that we manage to go very fast on the bike”.
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