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Amid the rush of daily life, it’s easy to miss some interesting news stories. So to make it easy for you, we have compiled a round-up of the most important stories from the past week.
Ancient Bones Reveal Gruesome Fate of Scottish Clan Members
More than 400 years ago, the Macleod clan of Scotland massacred about 400 of the Macdonalds on the Isle of Eigg in Scotland, when the Macleods smoked them to death in a cave in which they took refuge. Now a group of tourists have found more than 50 bones of the Macdonalds clan in that cave.
The attack on the Macdonalds wiped out most of the island’s residents after a clan feud erupted over some Macleod men possibly molesting some Macdonalds girls. As many as 400 Macdonalds islanders were slain in this outbreak of clan warfare.
The scene of the crime: The entrance to the cave on Eigg where the Macdonalds clan bones were found. ( Wikimedia Commons /Christian Jones photo)
1,400-Year-Old Coins are the Forgotten Remnants of a Terrifying Siege on Jerusalem
Israeli archaeologists announced the discovery of a hoard of rare Byzantine bronze coins from a site dating back to 614 AD. The newly found coins are clear evidence of the Persian invasion of Jerusalem at the end of the Byzantine period. As the Persian army (supported by many Jewish rebels) marched on Jerusalem in 614 AD, Christians living in the town rushed to hide their possessions, including a hoard of the valuable coins, hoping that things would soon go back to normal.
Nine bronze coins dating to the Byzantine period were hidden in the remains of a settlement near a highway to Jerusalem. ( Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority )
Face of ‘Ordinary Poor’ Man from Medieval Cambridge Graveyard Revealed
New facial reconstruction of a man buried in a medieval hospital graveyard discovered underneath a Cambridge college sheds light on how ordinary poor people lived in medieval England. The 13th-century man was among some 400 burials for which complete skeletal remains were uncovered when one of the largest medieval hospital graveyards in Britain was discovered underneath the Old Divinity School of St John’s College.
The man was probably an inmate of the Hospital of St John, a charitable institution which provided food and a place to live for a dozen or so indigent townspeople. Testing revealed he was over 40 when he died, and had a skeleton with a lot of wear and tear from a hard working life. His tooth enamel had stopped growing on two occasions during his youth, suggesting he had suffered bouts of sickness or famine early on. Archaeologists also found evidence of a blunt-force trauma on the back of his skull that had healed over prior to his death.
The facial reconstruction of Context 958 Source: Chris Rynn, University of Dundee
Other top stories from this week:
By Ancient Origins
On April 8, officials from eight countries—Saudi Arabia, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Jordan—convened in Riyadh to discuss the American initiative to form the “Middle East Strategic Alliance,” also known as the “Arab NATO,” aimed at confronting Iran’s growing influence in the region. Egypt did not attend the meeting, and a Reuters report from April 11 stated that it had decided to withdraw from the initiative and had informed Saudi Arabia and the United States of this in advance, reported JNS.
( U.S. President Donald Trump and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
According to the report, Egypt questions the motives behind the initiative and fears it will exacerbate tensions with Iran furthermore, it is concerned about the fate of the initiative if U.S. President Donald Trump is not re-elected in 2020.
Missed this week's entertainment news?
But don't worry - here's a round up of all this week's biggest stories to make sure you're all caught up.
Paris Jackson apologised for appearing on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Singapore after an article criticised the model for appearing on the title.
The Gay Star News article labelled her as "hypocritical", as gay sex is criminalised in Singapore.
The daughter of the late Michael Jackson also confirmed to her fans last month she is bisexual.
Paris tweeted she had been "grateful" for the opportunity to appear on the cover and said she didn't know about the gay rights in the country.
Danny Boyle dropped out of directing the next Bond film due to "creative differences".
It was announced by producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and current Bond star Daniel Craig, on the franchise's official Twitter account.
While it would've been Boyle's first Bond, Craig has confirmed that it will be his final appearance as 007.
US series The Big Bang Theory will air its final episode in 2019, ending one of the longest-running sitcoms in US history, it was announced.
The show has attracted more than 18 million viewers every year since its sixth season aired in 2012.
The 12th and final season will premiere on 24 September and is expected to end in May - these could very well be the last times we'll ever hear "Bazinga"!
Declan Donnelly will have a new co-host on the next series of I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! as Ant McPartlin takes time off, ITV confirmed.
Ant stepped down from his TV work in March to have treatment after his drink-driving arrest.
There has been no word yet on who will join Dec in the jungle but amongst the favourites are Stephen Mulhern, Cat Deeley and last year's winner Scarlett Moffatt.
If you listen closely, you can still hear the sobs of Jonas Brothers fans across the world.
The Bollywood superstar and singer held a private engagement ceremony in Mumbai.
Icelandic actor Stefan Karl Stefansson, who played LazyTown villain Robbie Rotten, died aged 43 from cancer.
He often shared his treatment and progress with fans online on social media.
In June his wife revealed the father-of-four's cancer was in its final stages.
Madonna hit back at critics who claimed her tribute to Aretha Franklin at this year's MTV VMAs was self-indulgent.
The singer posted on Instagram explaining that she had been asked to share an anecdotes she had in her career in connection to the Queen of Soul.
The material girl went on to accuse people of being "quick to judge".
The contestants for Great British Bake Off 2018 were revealed.
The series returns to Channel 4 on 28 August for second year after moving from the BBC.
The presenters and judges remain the same as last year with hopefully more puns than ever before!
However, what will be new in this year's competition is some of the challenges set for bakers as the forthcoming series will feature a vegan week.
La Roux attacked US TV channel Fox for using her track Bulletproof on a segment about children's clothes.
Fox Business used the song when introducing an item about bulletproof school backpacks and clothing.
EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
The Giro d’Italia is all wrapped up for this year with the win going to Egan Bernal. All the results and video from Italy, plus the Critérium du Dauphiné, Thüringen Ladies Tour and the Boucles de la Mayenne. Lefevere on Sagan – TOP STORY. Caleb Ewan returns, Peter Sagan to Total Direct Energie, Lennard Kämna extends, spectator liable for Flanders collision and unclipped with Giacomo Nizzolo. Monday coffee time.
TOP STORY: Lefevere on Sagan (again): “Our collaboration will be for a next life”
Peter Sagan has been frequently associated with Deceuninck – Quick-Step recently, but in all likelihood he will not be going to the Belgian team. Team manager, Patrick Lefevere wrote in his weekly column in Het Nieuwsblad. “To tell the whole story: it all started with our contract extension with bicycle manufacturer Specialized. They will be part of our project until 2027, which will make it one of the longest-running partnerships in the WorldTour. As part of the contract talks, our owner Zdenek Bakala was talking with Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s CEO. That’s where the name Peter Sagan came up.”
“Specialized has had a personal sponsorship deal with him for years and Zdenek also thought it was a good idea that Peter would ride for our team. Everything fitted together well, but I immediately put on the brakes.” This is mainly because Lefevere ‘doesn’t want a team in his team.’ “That cannot be reconciled with the Wolfpack philosophy,” he said.
“Sagan’s personal manager is Giovanni Lombardi, an ex-track rider and thus by definition of the nervous type,” continued Lefevere. “He wanted to talk as soon as possible and we did. He assured me that the eleven entourage was not set in stone. For a number of people, solutions had already been found elsewhere, so that the package ‘Sagan plus eight’ was on the table. Until recently I heard from Lombardi that a team was willing to take everyone on board.”
“I also read that it would be Direct Energy, but to be honest: I don’t know. In any case, Sagan’s preference goes out to that new team and that argues for his loyalty. He wants as many people around him as possible. Too bad, but unfortunately: our cooperation will be for a next life.”
Other contract discussions will continue. “In the first instance I talk to the guys from the team who want to extend. This week with Florian Sénéchal and in the Centro di Alto Rendimiento on the Sierra Nevada, I previously sat together with Mattia Cattaneo and Fabio Jakobsen. A few talks are also planned in the Giro on Sunday.”
There have been many requests from riders to join the Lefevere team “Also from riders who left us earlier. They now urge to return.” The experienced team manager takes his time. “It is not the intention to sign 27 names by the end of May. Real opportunities often arise at the end of the year. I would prefer to have a little budget left.”
Not Deceuninck for Sagan:
Giro d’Italia 2021
Alberto Bettiol now has a stage of the Giro d’Italia to his name. The EF Education-Nippo Italian was part of the early break and managed to catch and pass Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in the finalé of Stage 18 to then solo to stage victory. Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) had no problem holding his overall lead.
After more than 30 kilometres, a large leading group was formed, but initially the 23 didn’t get very far. In the peloton, several counter attacks tried to cross to the leading group, but the men from BORA-hansgrohe put a stop to it. With just over 170 kilometres to go, finally the peloton let the break go. INEOS decided to control the peloton and the lead of the front group continued to fluctuate around 7 minutes. The Spaniard Gorka Izagirre was the best placed rider in the early break in 24th place on GC. The Astana-Premier Tech rider was already almost an hour down on the pink jersey. After a while, INEOS gave up and the escape started the last 60 kilometres with a good 15 minutes lead.
The break: Nikias Arndt, Nico Denz and Nicolas Roche (DSM), Wesley Kreder (IWG), Rémi Cavagna (DQS), Alberto Bettiol (EF1), Samuele Rivi and Francesco Gavazzi (EOK), Jacopo Mosca (TFS), Andrii Ponomar, Natnael Tesfatsion and Simon Pellaud (ANS), Samuele Battistella and Gorka Izagirre (AST), Simone Consonni (COF), Dario Cataldo (MOV), Alessandro Covi and Diego Ulissi (UAE), Stefano Oldani (LTS), Filippo Zana (BAR), Gianni Vermeersch (ALF), Andrea Vendrame (ACT) and Patrick Bevin (ISN).
With 35 kilometres to go, the front group hit the Montù Beccaria (3.4km at 4.1%), the first climb of the day. Samuele Battistella was the first to attack. Filippo Zana jumped after him. Nico Denz saw the danger and managed to make the crossing on his own, although the time difference was small. The first attack attempts by Battisella, Zana and Denz were nipped in the bud. The next attack came from Patrick Bevin together with Alberto Bettiol, Stefano Oldani, Jacopo Mosca, Nicolas Roche and Gorka Izagirre. Surprisingly Diego Ulissi was missing. On the climb to Castana (5.3km at 3.9%), Bettiol rode a high pace and the winner of the 2019 Tour of Flanders put his escape companions on the rack. In the chasing group Ulissi jumped across to the Bettiol group. There was a moment of calm and this was the moment for Rémi Cavagna to make his move, no one was willing to chase, which allowed Cavagna to continue to take time. Cavagna’s lead kept getting bigger and so Bettiol had to do something. The strong Italian tried to catch Cavagna with Roche, but they were stuck at about 20 seconds.
After the technical descent from Castana, Cavagna was still in the lead. He pushed his lead to more than 30 seconds, but the Frenchman still had to survive two short climbs to the finish. Bettiol kept up the pressure behind Cavagna on the penultimate climb and managed to cut Cavagna’s lead to 15 seconds, but the Frenchman refused to give in and dug deeper. Bettiol caught his breath again, as he was rejoined by Roche. Cavagna had a small lead as he started the last climb which summited about 5.5 kilometres from the finish. On the Caneto Pavese (2.6km at 5.7%), Roche was dropped by Bettiol and the Italian bridged the gap to Cavagna. The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider managed to hold the Italian, but there was a second attack from Bettiol. Cavagna came to a complete stop and the Italian took flight for good. In the last hundreds metres Bettiol was able to celebrate his first stage victory in the Giro d’Italia. Simone Consonni sprinted to second place, ahead of Roche. The peloton crossed the line 20 minutes later. Egan Bernal kept the pink jersey without any problems.
Stage winner, Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First-Nippo): “Winning the Tour of Flanders changed my life but I needed to deliver more. I wanted to come back to the Giro and win on home soil. Today was a unique opportunity. I had many friends in the breakaway but I didn’t speak much with them, I remained focused. I knew I could climb better than Cavagna but I had to win the mental game by dropping him straight away. In the third week of a Grand Tour we’re all tired so the mental side of things makes the difference. In the past, I’ve wanted to be a super hero but I’ve learnt that cycling requires humility. This sport teaches you about losing more than winning, unless your name is Merckx. I wasn’t upset on the finishing line, I was super happy.”
Maglia Rosa, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “I hope I have recovered from the suffering yesterday. But it is hard to say because it was a fast start and I stayed on the wheels. I felt better than yesterday on the bike. It’s something special to be the Colombian with the most Maglia Rosa in history but the most important thing is to wear it in Milan. I cannot say that I’m super confident because in the past we’ve seen that anything can happen in the last few days. I know tomorrow’s climb and I expect to have some fans from Piemonte as it’s where I grew up as a cyclist. It’ll be a nice stage and I hope to do well. It’ll be another test though.”
9th on the stage, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “The goal was to join the break, because it was the last opportunity to try something. When I attacked, I gave everything and had a solid gap with 15 kilometres to go, which made me believe in my chances, but I missed something in the end. I knew there were better climbers than me in the group and you could see that. Nevertheless, I enjoyed being at the front today, although the result was frustrating.”
Points leader, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe): “Today was an important stage and the key was not to lose points for the ciclamino jersey. We kept under control the sprinters that were close in the points classification and held on to the ciclamino. On Friday and Saturday, we have two hard mountain stages.”
23rd on the stage, Wesley Kreder : “The initial plan was to have Andrea Pasqualon or Quinten Hermans in the breakaway, as this stage suited them well. But instead, I was the only one who made it in the right breakaway. The final turned out to be too difficult for me. I felt from the first climb that it would not be possible to compete with the best climber-punchers of the breakaway. It’s a shame because I would have liked to sacrifice myself for one of my teammates. Despite that, I am happy that I was able to at the front of the race on my very first Grand Tour. I did not insist in the final because I know that there are difficult days that separate us from the arrival in Milan.”
Giro d’Italia Stage 18 Result:
1. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo in 5:14:43
2. Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis at 0:17
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) DSM
4. Nikias Arndt (Ger) DSM
5. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
6. Samuele Battistella (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
7. Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizanè
8. Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
9. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:24
10. Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 1:12.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 18:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 77:10:18
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:21
3. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 3:23
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:03
5. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 6:09
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 6:31
7. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:17
8. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 8:45
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 9:18
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 13:37.
Giro stage 18:
Simon Yates (BikeExchange) attacked on the final climb of the Alpe di Mera for the Stage 19 win and took back time on overall leader, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers). Yates is now 20 seconds from second placed Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and 2:49 on Bernal.
Only after 43 kilometres did the ‘break of the day’ come about. Quinten Hermans and Andrea Pasqualon joined forces with Larry Warbasse, Nicola Venchiarutti, Giovanni Aleotti and Mark Christian. Oscar Riesebeek tried to cross to the leading group as did Samuele Zoccarato. However, it was too much and they were caught. The six riders took a 4 minute lead in the run-up to the Alpe Agogna, the first climb of the day. Christian was first over the top, ahead of Venchiarutti and Pasqualon. Due to the pace set by Rémi Cavagna, Mikkel Honoré and Iljo Keisse, the gap to the leading group started to decrease and the peloton split on the run-in to the intermediate sprint. Pasqualon took the intermediate sprint and jumped to 6th place in the points classification. The peloton rode steadily in the run-up to the Passo della Colma. Venchiarutti was dropped from the leading group. At the top, 38 kilometres from the finish, Warbasse was first ahead of Hermans. The lead of the five attackers was only 1:20. In the peloton INEOS Grenadiers took control together with Deceuninck – Quick-Step. The leaders had 17 seconds when they started the climb to Alpe di Mera with 9.7 kilometres to go. Christian didn’t want to give up and rode away after the first kilometre of climbing. The eolo-Kometa rider form the Isle of Man wasn’t ahead of the peloton for much longer and the race was all together for the final climb. João Almeida opened the action with 6.8 kilometres to go, after which Yates counter-attacked together with George Bennett, Aleksandr Vlasov and Damiano Caruso.
Bernal chose his own pace and sat on the wheels of his two teammates Jonathan Castroviejo and Daniel Martínez. Yates then rode the others off his wheel and continued solo and quickly took a nice gap. Carthy made the jump to Almeida, Vlasov and Caruso, but Martínez managed to pull the four in again. Yates was still pushing on solo. With 2.5 kilometres to go, Bernal was on his own. The Colombian only had Almeida on his wheel, it was too much for the others. Yates had a nice lead and, despite a late counterattack from Almeida, he won the stage. In the general classification Yates is now at 2:49 to Bernal, and the difference to second placed Caruso, who finished fourth, is only 20 seconds.
Stage winner and 3rd overall, Simon Yates (BikeExchange): “I’m really happy. The team did a fantastic job today. We controlled the start, rode well behind and then I finished it off. I saw the boys from Ineos were just happy to ride at tempo behind so I had a feeling they would let me go today. It was not the most difficult stage. It’ll be different tomorrow at a higher altitude. I don’t have any regrets for the way I rode on the first week, I had some little problems and I think I managed everything the best I could. The gap to the Maglia Rosa is still quite important but I am closer to Caruso now who is in second place.”
Maglia Rosa and 3rd on the stage, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “For me, the most important thing is to have the Maglia Rosa in Milan. When I have the legs, I like to attack. But now there’s one rider stronger than me and it’s Simon Yates. I want to keep the time I gained earlier in the Giro because that’s the fruits of great team work so I don’t want to make any mistakes that could ruin everything. Today I took one step further towards that final win. It was an important day for us after what happened two days ago. Now I’m confident ahead of tomorrow’s stage, which I’ll enjoy riding at a higher altitude. I want to arrive at the ITT with some extra energy.”
2nd on the stage and 8th overall, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “First of all, I want to thank the entire team, they were incredible and did a perfect job for me today. I felt good and confident, so I attacked early to see what could happen. To be up there again with the other GC guys on this hard climb was nice and showed that I have good legs at the moment. It’s a pity I missed the win and took second again, but on the other hand, I gained more time in the standings, which bodes well for the remaining stages, where we’ll see what I will be able to do.”
Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “The GC guys had clearly set their sights on this stage and we knew the chances of the breakaway would be slim. Yesterday’s stage was my last chance to win, but I wanted to honour the team colours up front. Secretly, there is always hope that the peloton will let go. Our lead group was interesting in itself, but maintaining the gap with six riders is very difficult. After three weeks, I have not weakened in my sensations and I still feel very good. I hope to be able to say that after tomorrow’s stage, because the effort made today will inevitably weigh in the legs. Whatever happens, I will come out of this Giro a better rider. An experience like this will be of great benefit for the future.”
Giovanni Aleotti (BORA-hansgrohe): “I think it was a good day. I gave it a try and jumped into the breakaway after a lot of work in the opening kilometres. I wanted to take my chances but, as expected, the teams of the GC contenders controlled the race. Still, I think that all in all it was a good stage and we will try again tomorrow.”
Giro d’Italia Stage 19 Result:
1. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange in 4:02:55
2. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:11
3. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:28
4. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:32
5. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
6. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:42
7. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:49
8. Koen Bouwman (Ned) Jumbo-Visma at 1:25
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 19:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 81:13:37
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 2:29
3. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 2:49
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:11
5. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 7:10
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 7:32
7. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:42
8. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 8:26
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 10:19
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 13:55.
Giro stage 19:
Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) won Stage 20 of the 104th Giro d’Italia, 164km from Verbania to Valle Spluga-Alpe Motta. Egan Bernal and Daniel Felipe Martinez (INEOS Grenadiers) finished second and third, respectively. Bernal retains the Maglia Rosa and leads the general classification going into Sunday’s final time trial.
After 30 kilometres nine riders managed to escape the peloton: Dries De Bondt, Louis Vervaeke, Taco van der Hoorn, Simon Pellaud, Giovanni Visconti, Felix Grosschartner, Vincenzo Albanese, Nico Denz and Matteo Jorgenson made up the break of the day. In the run-up to the Passo San Girardino, they took 5 minutes. Surprisingly, Trek-Segafredo took up the chase. The early escape split on the Passo San Girardino. Vervaeke and Grosschartner attacked, they were joined by Albanese, Pellaud and Visconti. With a lead of just 1 minute, they crossed the top of the climb. Trek-Segafredo, BikeExchange and DSM were chasing. On the descent Chris Hamilton, Michael Storer and Romain Bardet (all DSM) split from the peloton, followed by Pello Bilbao and Caruso. When the lead was at 20 seconds on the peloton, Caruso and Bardet caught the leaders. Hamilton and Bilbao worked hard to get their leaders to the climb in the best time and as fresh as possible. There was no reason to panic for Bernal and Yates as Caruso only had 20 seconds.
Thanks to the work of Vervaeke, who was then dropped, the lead on the penultimate climb grew to 50 seconds as the four started the 20 kilometre descent to Alpe Motta. In the peloton Aleksandr Vlasov attacked on the descent, the Astana-Premier Tech rider had a 10 second lead and split the favourites group. INEOS Grenadiers quickly brought the Russian back and continued to chase the GC riders at the front. Thanks to Jonathan Castroviejo on the descent and Daniel Felipe Martinez on the final climb, the lead of Caruso and Bardet didn’t grow. After Storer and Bilbao had done all they could, Bardet and Caruso had to do it all by themselves, the lead started to shrink again. In the final kilometres it was clear that Bernal’s pink jersey was never in danger. Caruso and Bardet could only fight for the stage victory with 20 seconds in hand with 2 kilometres to go.
Because of Martinez’s fast pace, no one could attack from the chase group. Yates and Almeida couldn’t hang on to Martinez and Bernal a kilometre from the top. At the front, Caruso was giving it all he had. After he dropped Bardet, his lead grew again over the two Colombians. He crowned his second overall place with a fine stage victory. Bernal and Martinez came in around half a minute later.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious): “My move wasn’t planned at all. Sometimes the best things happen by coincidence. A bit of luck is needed as well and in this case, there was a bit of intelligence too. We reacted after DSM’s attack and it was a winning choice. I raced to win because in this profession, you have to try and win. Like Alberto Bettiol, I wanted to win as a tribute to our late agent Mauro Battaglini. I also dedicate this victory to my family, my wife and my kids. Tomorrow I’ll give it all from the recon to the race. I won’t make any calculations. It’ll be a triumphant closing day.”
Maglia Rosa and 2nd on the stage, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “I went through the most challenging moment of my Giro so far on the San Bernardino Pass when Damiano Caruso made his move. I’m happy for him. He came here as a super domestique and he’s racing as a leader for the podium. He has ridden a perfect Giro so far. I hope to be with him on the podium tomorrow but with myself in first place and him second. It’s a 30km time trial so it’s certainly not my specialty. It doesn’t matter if I win by two minutes or one second. The most important thing is to have my name on the trophy.”
3rd overall and 6th on the stage, Simon Yates: “We tried to do something again, the boys did a fantastic job again, as always. The plan was to try something on the second to last climb, but we arrived there and I didn’t have the legs, a bit of fatigue from yesterday maybe, a bit of fatigue from three weeks all coming together. But as always, I did the best as I could and I’m happy with what I did and we finish off with the TT tomorrow. We’re staying focused, it’s only one more day and then we can celebrate a nice podium in Milan.”
KOM, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën): “When Laurent Fignon won this jersey (1984), I hadn’t even been born yet. Not too many French riders have won this classification, so I understand this is a real accomplishment. It hasn’t really soaked in yet. I think that will take me a few days. I took the jersey on the 9th stage. But that day I was very disappointed to have been caught within 400 meters of winning the stage. The jersey had not been the goal at all. Then I started looking for places to win points and be patient. I didn’t want to lose it, that’s for sure. I consolidated my hold on it day after day. I had a great day at the front of the race with Andrea Vendrame (winner of stage 12) and from that moment, we were able to race without pressure. I won this jersey in the Vuelta (2019), and I am proud to win the King of the Mountains competition for a second time in my third Grand Tour. I’m starting to have a collection!”
5th on the stage and 8th overall, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Today was really hard, with some very tough gradients especially on the last climb, but I’m happy with my result and with being there again with the best guys. I did everything that I could and although I came outside the podium, I am satisfied with what I achieved on this stage. I can’t believe three weeks have passed and on Sunday the race will come to an end. I don’t know what’s possible to do in terms of general classification, but I will give my best in the time trial and try to finish the race on a high note.”
Felix Großschartner (BORA-hansgrohe): “I tried to go into the breakaway today and I made it. We worked really well among us, but, unfortunately, the peloton really controlled the race. I think that when we crested San Bernandino our advantage had already dropped to a minute, so it was going to be a very difficult task. I haven’t been feeling very well during this Giro, I suffered quite a lot today as well but, like every other day, I tried to do my best. I managed to stay as long as I could with the GC favourites. It is what it is but I’ll be back.”
Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “We wanted to be in the breakaway today. Of course, this stage was tailored for climbers, and it’s far from my specialty. But in the end that doesn’t matter because the peloton didn’t leave us a significant margin of manoeuvre. But once again, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux was on the attack, up front. I had a lot of fun today, seeing so much tifosi along the roads encourages us to hope for a possible return to normal in the near future. This is the fourth time that I spent the day at the front, we can say that it is a successful first Grand Tour. There is one day of suffering left with tomorrow’s time trial, and then it will be definitely done!”
Giro d’Italia Stage 20 Result:
1. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious in 4:27:53
2. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:24
3. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:35
4. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM
5. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:41
6. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 0:51
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 1:13
8. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 1:29
9. Lorenzo Fortunato (Ita) eolo-Kometa at 2:07
10. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar at 2:23.
Giro d’Italia Overall After Stage 20:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 85:41:47
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:59
3. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 3:23
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 7:07
5. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 7:48
6. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:56
7. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 8:22
8. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 8:50
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 12:39
10. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation at 16:48.
Giro stage 20:
Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) won the 104th Giro d’Italia. Wearing the Maglia Rosa the Colombian lifted the Trofeo Senza Fine. Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Simon Yates (BikeExchange) finished second and third. Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) won the Stage 21 time trial, 30.3 kilometres from Senago to Milano time trial. Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) finished second and third, respectively.
Filippo Ganna posted two impressive split times and looked unbeatable until he had a puncture with 2 kilometres to go and had to change bikes. Despite that, the INEOS Grenadiers rider set the fastest time with 33:48, finishing ahead of Edoardo Affini who was second behind Ganna in the opening time trial, but lost 13 seconds on Sunday. Two battles had been decided on Saturday, the points and the KOM going to Peter Sagan and Geoffrey Bouchard. Another Frenchman hoped for stage victory. Rémi Cavagna was on the right track and was only 18 seconds behind Ganna at the second time check. However, the French champion misjudged a corner and hit the barriers. At the finish, he had lost 12 seconds to Ganna. The battle between the top GC riders mainly focused on the strong time trialists, such as Tobias Foss, João Almeida and Damiano Caruso. Since the differences were significant, there was not much at stake anymore, but there could be changes in the final GC. Almeida, eighth overall, finished fifth in the time trial. He overtook Hugh Carthy and Romain Bardet in the overall standings. Daniel Felipe Mártinez kept Almeida behind him, with a difference of five hundredths of a second.
Aleksandr Vlasov held onto his fourth place on GC. Behind him, Mártinez finished 5th, closely followed by Almeida in 6th. Bardet finished the Giro in 7th place and Carthy in 8th. Tobias Foss took 9th place, Daniel Martin was 10th. Egan Bernal was the last rider to start. He had a lead of 1:59 to defend over Caruso, at the finish he lost only 30 seconds to the Italian. Without taking any risks, the Colombian was able to finish in Milan and take the overall victory. On the podium in Milan, Bernal was joined by Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious) and Simon Yates (BikeExchange).
Stage winner Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers): “With the puncture, we spiced up the race! Thanks to the team though, I got a fast bike change. It’s the icing on the cake to bring this second time trial win at home along with Egan’s Maglia Rosa. Three weeks of racing bring a lot of suffering but when your captain raises their arms up in the air on the last day, it already makes you look forward to 2022. As a domestique, it’s our second win out of two Grand Tours after last year’s Giro, it’s a similar achievement to Gianni Moscon who has five out of five. Last year, Tao [Geoghegan Hart] took the Maglia Rosa on the last day whereas this time, Egan took it early so we had to work much more at the front of the peloton. Having said that, I’ve also enjoyed sharing the moment with many more fans on the road side than last year. It’s been a wonderful three weeks.”
Final overall winner, Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers): “Winning the Giro puts me in a wonderful situation. I’m quiet but inside, I feel an explosion of happiness. Nowadays I’m riding at an excellent level that enabled me to win the Giro but I have to keep my feet on the ground. There are other riders who are also very strong. Thanks to them I’ll find some fresh motivation for the future. The most difficult moment of the Giro was yesterday when Caruso rode away. I had five teammates around me but suddenly they were down to just three. Luckily Jonathan Castroviejo made the right decisions at the right time. The most beautiful moment of the race came from riding strongly on the gravelled roads to Montalcino. Today, listening to the voice of my coach [Mikel Artetxe] during the time trial was another beautiful moment. I’ll remember it in the years to come. My team manager Dave Brailsford also has played a big part in this victory. I went through difficult times after I won the Tour de France. With this Giro, I have again found what I was aiming for.”
2nd overall, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain Victorious): “It’s my first time on the podium of a Grand Tour and it is a beautiful feeling. This podium may not have been foreseeable at the start because we had other plans, but day after day the awareness dawned on me that I might be able to do something big, and today I’m here celebrating this podium. Today, it was only right to prepare to ride the stage and finish it to the best of my abilities and with complete commitment, as I have all the way through the past three weeks. I wanted to do well. I didn’t think of the gap, I just thought about pushing as hard as I could, and now I’ll celebrate. We’ll see what comes next. We’ll enjoy this moment and then think about the future.”
3rd overall, Simon Yates (BikeExchange): “I am proud of what I accomplished here. I have no regrets. Those guys showed day in, day out that they were better, so I can only be proud of what I did. I had some small problems at the start but then I could really show myself in the third week, but I also paid for my efforts yesterday. Yesterday I was not as good as my stage win, but as I have said before you have to be good for the full three weeks. I did my best every day, the days in the cold, the body didn’t respond as well as I wanted it to but that is one of those things, you have to deal with bad days and bad moments and that is how you go on to win the race. Egan did that successfully on numerous days.”
4th overall, Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech): “Honestly, I am quite happy with my performance here at the Giro d’Italia. I mean it was my first Grand tour where I came fully focused for the result as a 100% leader of the team and I was able to finish fourth, really close to the podium. The final podium would be a super success for me, but anyway the result I’ve got here in Italy brings me a lot of motivation and satisfaction. Together with our team we spent three great weeks at the Giro and lived many good moments. With the experience I got here I know I can move further ahead.”
2nd on the stage, Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “It’s a real pity. I did a very good time trial, but I took the last turn full gas, as I forgot about it, and went down. I got back on my bike, but there was nothing more to do at that point, so it’s really frustrating, as I felt there was a chance for me to win today. On the other hand, I can’t say I am disappointed finishing second, as I gave everything out there.”
3rd on the stage, Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma): “I am very happy with what I showed this Giro. It’s my first full grand tour and I am satisfied with two second places and a third place. It was a very beautiful experience. In addition, I gave myself completely for the team every day, so as a result I didn’t have the greatest legs anymore today. I gave it my all, but Ganna is just too strong for the time being. He is the world champion after all. I will do everything I can to keep improving in the coming years and definitely also in this discipline. And, who knows, one day I might beat Ganna.”
5th on the stage and 6th overall, João Almeida (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Despite arriving here after three hard weeks, I felt quite good and was focused on doing a good ITT, and I’m content with the result, especially on a flat course like this. Sixth overall is a very good result and I’m happy to be back in the top 10 after last year’s edition. Overall, it was a good Giro d’Italia for me, a race where I learned a lot and where I could see the improvements I have made in the big mountains, where I could stay with the real climbers.”
Points competition winner, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe): “I’m very happy and proud to step on the final podium in Milan, wearing the ciclamino jersey of the Giro d’Italia. It has been a dream of mine for many years and I am delighted to see it come true today. I’d like to thank the race organisers, the incredible Italian public that was back on the roads cheering for us and all my teammates for their work in these three tough weeks of racing.”
KOM, Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën): “It’s wonderful to live through moments like this. I appreciate the moment more than at the Vuelta, I was very tense then. Here, I’m very relaxed and happy. Perhaps, I have one or two technical things missing compared with other riders because I turned pro very late, but my physical qualities allow me to shine in this category over three weeks. Twice I’ve been able to compete in the mountains competition. It’s a real achievement. I’m super happy. It’s a classification I’ve dreamed about since I was a child.”
Giro d’Italia Stage 21 Result:
1. Filippo Ganna (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers in 33:49
2. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:12
3. Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma at 0:13
4. Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech at 0:14
5. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:27
6. Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Qhubeka Assos at 0:33
7. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo at 0:34
8. Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious at 0:42
9. Gianni Moscon (Ita) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:44
10. Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 0:47.
Giro d’Italia Final Overall Result:
1. Egan Bernal Gomez (Col) INEOS Grenadiers in 86:17:28
2. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 1:29
3. Simon Yates (GB) BikeExchange at 4:15
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech at 6:40
5. Daniel Martinez Poveda (Col) INEOS Grenadiers at 7:24
6. João Almeida (Por) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Romain Bardet (Fra) DSM at 8:05
8. Hugh Carthy (GB) EF Education-Nippo at 8:56
9. Tobias Foss (Nor) Jumbo-Visma at 11:44
10. Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-up Nation at 18:35.
Giro final stage 21:
Critérium du Dauphiné 2021
At 23 years old, Brent Van Moer has already experienced pain and glory on the roads of the Critérium du Dauphiné. The young Belgian talent from Lotto Soudal claimed an impressive solo victory on Stage 1 of the 2021 edition, a few months after he crashed out of the 2020 Dauphiné on the very first day. Vant Moer went for the early breakaway, summited first the different climbs around Issoire and eventually dropped all his companions to ride to victory ahead of the raging bunch led by Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Clément Venturini (AG2R Citroën). What a way to claim his first professional victory, along with the yellow and blue jersey, the white jersey, the polka-dot jersey, the green jersey and the first combativity award in the history of the Dauphiné!
The 147 riders participating in the 73rd Critérium du Dauphiné take the start under the Sun in Issoire. After 5km of battle, the Austrian Patrick Gamper (BORA-hansgrohe) gets away from the bunch and three more attackers join him at the front: Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Ian Garrison (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Cyril Gautier (B&B-Vital Concept). The four leaders open a 4 minute gap at km 28. Alexander Kristoff’s UAE Team Emirates and Sonny Colbrelli’s Bahrain Victorious are the first teams to react in the peloton. But the breakaway companions push their advantage: 5 minutes atop the first ascent of the day, côte de Bergonne (km 65.7), where Brent Van Moer collects his first KOM point on his way to claiming the first polka-dot jersey of the Dauphiné.
The first yellow and blue jersey also attracts lots of ambitions and Trek-Segafredo also work at the front of the bunch but their leader Mads Pedersen struggles in the first ascents of the day. Ian Garrison is dropped from the breakaway and the peloton catch him as they cross the finish line for the first time (km 107.7) with a gap of 4:30. At the front, Van Moer keeps chasing the KOM points and summits the different climbs ahead of his remaining companions. With 7 points under his belt after the second Côte du château de Buron – Col de la Croix des Gardes sequence, he is set to take the first polka-dot jersey if he reaches the finish without trouble… In the 2020 Dauphiné, the young Belgian already went for the first breakaway and he crashed out of the race during stage 1.
The leading trio hold on to a 3:05 advantage as they enter the final 37.1km lap. Van Moer proves again to be the strongest on the climbs and goes solo inside the last 15km while UAE Team Emirates lose their options with Brandon McNulty (mechanical) and Alexander Kristoff (dropped in the final climbing sequence). Other sprinters can’t keep up like Fabio Jakobsen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step). Van Moer maintains an advantage of 50’’ over the top of the final climb, with 12km to go. He still leads by 0:38 as he enters the last kilometre. More than enough to fend off the bunch and claim an impressive maiden victory.
Stage winner and overall leader, Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal): “I almost can’t believe it. My first professional victory and immediately in this way and with the leader’s jersey on top of it… After what happened at the Ronde van Limburg, where I was about to fight for my first pro victory but got sent into the wrong way at the end, I was really disappointed but I immediately shifted focus towards the Dauphiné. I was really eager to show that I am able to finish off a race. The fact that I can already do this at the Dauphiné, amongst this strong field of riders, is just fantastic. What a difference compared to last year, when I was also part of the early breakaway but had to abandon the race due to a crash. It is really special to be now wearing the yellow jersey. We absolutely wanted to be part of the early breakaway. At first, I was a bit disappointed that we were only with the four of us, but as I could take several KOM points along the way, I was already sure of a trip to the podium. This took the pressure a little bit off, but I knew that maybe a lot more was possible. From the team car, I was told to go all out from the final climb and when I had 50 seconds advantage atop the final climb, I knew that – with most of the final kilometres downhill – the stage victory was possible. But only when I got into the final three kilometres, I was sure of it. As a team, I think we have shown that with racing aggressively, you can go really far. We also form a really solid team. I remain really careful what defending the leader’s jersey concerns. We have a really tough Dauphiné in front of us and I’ll take it day by day whether I can defend any of my jerseys. But I will definitely fight for them and then we’ll see where that takes me.”
2nd on the stage and overall, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious): “It was a good opportunity today. Unfortunately, we were down one rider (Eros) to pull and close the gap to the breakaway. Tomorrow is another day and a good stage for me, along with stage three and five. So for sure, I will try to take a stage win. A big thank you to the team for their support today.”
6th on the stage and 7th overall, Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe): “I felt well during the day and at the end we decided that I give it a go. Patrick and Pösti positioned me really well, but after the last corner I was too much outside and couldn’t launch my sprint immediately. Still, I am happy with the result.”
Critérium du Dauphiné Stage 1 Result:
1. Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:13:00
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:25
3. Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
5. Kaden Groves (Aus) BikeExchange
6. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers
8. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
10. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar.
Critérium du Dauphiné Overall After Stage 1:
1. Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal in 4:12:49
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious at 0:30
3. Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:32
4. Patrick Gamper (Aut) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:33
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:36
6. Kaden Groves (Aus) BikeExchange
7. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
8. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) INEOS Grenadiers
9. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech.
Critérium du Dauphiné stage 1:
Thüringen Ladies Tour 2021
Stage 3 of the international Lotto Thuringia Ladies Tour was won by Lucinda Brand. The Trek-Segafredo rider beat Emma Norsgaard and Lotto Kopecky in Schleiz. The Danish rider, Norsgaard remains the overall leader.
The third stage was 116 kilometres long and went into the Thüringer country-side. The stage went mainly west from Schleiz and the riders had a climb to cross three times. The top of the last slope was 15 kilometres from the finish. An early escape with Kirsten Wild (CeratiSit-WNT), Caroline Andersson (HITEC Products) with Lydia Ventker and Helena Bieber (Team RSG). The peloton wasn’t too interested and so the lead went up to 8 minutes. With good 7 kilometres to go, Wild, the last survival of the early break was caught. Then there was an attack by Lucinda Brand and Liane Lippert. These managed to take a maximum lead of 25 seconds, but the chasing group was getting closer in the final kilometres. Lippert was pulled in, in view of the port. Brand, on the other hand, was strong enough to hold off the chase and record a beautiful victory for Trek-Segafredo. Norsgaard, the winner of the opening stage to Schmölln, was second. Kopecky came across the line ahead of Amy Pieters and Emilia Fahlin. Norsgaard is still in charge in the overall, Brand is the new number two.
Stage winner, Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo): “Just before the last kilometre, I attacked Liane because the group was so close behind, and I couldn’t wait longer. I Just had to get through the pain and keep on fighting. It was really tough and close, but I am really happy that I could finish off the work of the team. Not the yellow jersey yet, but we still have some days to try and get that one, and we are going to fight for that!”
Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 3 Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 3:18:52
2. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar at 0:02
3. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx
5. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
6. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT
7. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank
8. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM
9. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Trek-Segafredo
10. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM.
Thüringen Ladies Tour Overall After Stage 3:
1. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar in 9:00:24
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo at 0:06
3. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium at 0:12
4. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 0:22
5. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM at 0:23
6. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 0:25
7. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Trek-Segafredo at 0:27
8. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at 0:29
9. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:30
10. Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Trek-Segafredo at 0:41.
Thüringen’21 stage 3:
Stage 4 of the Thüringen Ladies Tour went to Lotte Kopecky. The Belgian rider of Liv Racing, riding for the Belgian team in the German race, was the strongest in Dörtendorf on a finish for puncheurs. Lucinda Brand crossed the line second and is the new overall leader.
In the fourth stage, the race was sent up the Dörtendorfer Berg four times, a climb of 1.2 kilometres at 8% with a peak at 16%. From the start, the pace in the race was high, making it difficult for the attackers to get away. On the second lap, a leading group with eleven was formed. Canyon-SRAM (Ella Harris and Lisa Klein) and Arkéa (Typhaine Laurance and Gladys Verhulst) along with Julie Leth, Anna Henderson, Clara Copponi, Kristen Faulkner, Janneke Ensing and Svenja Betz. The eleven took 2:30 on the peloton. On the second climb of the Dörtendorfer Berg, Henderson and Faulkner rode away from the leading group, but on the third lap the dropped escapees rejoined the two leaders. At the start of the last lap, with 26 kilometres to go, the break still had a 0:50 lead. Faulkner attacked again on the last lap, but everything came together. The early break lasted a long time and it was only on the final climb that a thinned peloton was able to catch the remaining attackers. In the uphill sprint Lotte Kopecky was the strongest. Lucinda Brand, yesterday’s winner of the third stage, finished second and took over the overall lead from Emma Norsgaard.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Lotte Kopecky (Belgium): “It was a hard day with quite a big breakaway that had danger riders in it for the GC. So as a team we took control, and they rode awesome. We got the break back just before we entered the final climb, and then it was all up to me. I just fought all the way, I left it all out there, but it was not just enough for the win. But I think we can be really proud. GC is extremely tight now, but we are going to fight for it, and we will show more tomorrow.”
Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 4 Result:
1. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium in 2:29:43
2. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
3. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM
4. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
5. Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:06
6. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar
7. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 0:10
8. Christine Majerus (Lux) SD Worx at 0:16
9. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 0:17
10. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT.
Thüringen Ladies Tour Overall After Stage 4:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 11:30:05
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium at 0:04
3. Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar at 0:08
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM at 0:21
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 0:31
6. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:32
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 0:44
8. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at 0:53
9. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Trek-Segafredo at 0:59
10. Christine Majerus (Lux) SD Worx at 1:00.
Thüringen’21 stage 4:
Lucinda Brand won the penultimate Stage 5 of the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour. The overall leader managed to win the 143.3 kilometre stage starting and finishing in Weimar thanks to a successful attack in the final kilometres. Six seconds behind Brand, Lorena Wiebes (DSM) sprinted to second place ahead of Emma Norsgaard (Movistar).
A day after storming the legendary Hankaberg, it was time for the longest stage of the Thüringen Ladies Tour. The continuously undulating course consisted of two circuits. It started with a large loop of almost 100 kilometres with three climbs. Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) and Sandra Lévénez (Arkéa) formed a leading group early in the race and they came in this order over the first climb of the day after 20 kilometres. The 41-year-old Frenchwoman Lévénez had to drop out at the front not much later. However, Van den Broek-Blaak and Klein kept on pushing. That is, until the peloton came to a closed level crossing, and which the leading duo also had to stop for a while. The two leaders then expanded the lead to a maximum of 3 minutes. The first time the leading duo reached the top of the climb to the village of Hottelstedt, the peloton had already started seriously chasing.
On the first return to Weimar, there was just over 2 minutes of the lead left. Now a lap of just over 40 kilometres was waiting for the riders. And the peloton started to eat into the lead, thanks to the work of the Trek-Segafredo for GC leader Lucinda Brand. For the second passage in Hottelstedt, the two were caught. The peloton was thinned out on the slope and so there was a group of about fifteen riders at the front in the undulating kilometres after the last climb. On the descent towards the line, Brand managed to wriggle free from the other competitors. The cyclocross world champion could not be caught before the finish. Six seconds later Lorena Wiebes, Emma Norsgaard and the rest of the first group crossed the line. Brand not only won the stage, she also cemented her lead in the overall. She still has one stage to go to be the third Dutch rider to win the Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour. Brand has to defend a 20 seconds in the final stage.
Stage winner and overall leader, Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo): “There was one last small bump in the last 5k, and I saw an opportunity to attack and come over Lizzie. They let me go, they couldn’t follow, and I went full, full, full gas down to the finish. It was a hard downhill, I think, but I made it. I am super happy, and after all my teammates’ hard work, it’s great that I could finish it off and make a better position in GC.”
Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 5 Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 3:55:08
2. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM at 0:06
3. Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar
4. Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM
5. Anna Henderson (GB) Jumbo-Visma
6. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT
7. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
8. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium
9. Léa Curinier (Fra) Arkea
10. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx.
Thüringen Ladies Tour Overall After Stage 5:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 15:25:05
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Belgium at 0:17
3. Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar at 0:18
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM at 0:35
5. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 0:45
6. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) Fdj Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:46
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 0:58
8. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Trek-Segafredo at 1:13
9. Christine Majerus (Lux) SD Worx at 1:14
10. Valerie Demey (Bel) Belgium at 1:23.
Thüringen’21 stage 5:
There was Dutch success on the Final Stage 6 of the Thüringen Ladies Tour. Lorena Wiebes was the first to cross the line in the stage around Gotha and managed to win her second stage in the German stage race. The overall victory went to Lucinda Brand.
Lucinda Brand already had two stage victories in the Thüringen Ladies Tour, but was also able to leave the race as the overall winner. The Trek-Segafredo rider was in the best position before the start, but still had to survive the final stage of the German race. Stage six was an undulating course to and from Gotha. Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo-Visma), Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) and Neve Bradbury (Canyon-SRAM) were ahead of the peloton for a while, but with 8 kilometres to go there was a regrouping. In the last kilometres towards the finish line, the Belgian National team and Movistar, working for Lotte Kopecky and Emma Norsgaard, were on the front. However, the victory went to Lorena Wiebes ahead of Belgian champion Kopecky. For the 22-year-old Wiebes, previously winner in Gera, it is her fifth victory of the season. Brand crossed the finish line safely in sixth place to take the final overall win.
Stage winner and final overall winner, Lorena Wiebes (DSM): “Today we controlled again the race and we had a plan which worked out well. Franziska helped control the break with the Belgian team and then we set up the lead-out. Floortje did the positioning in the downhill then Pfeiffer took the two right corners and Susanne went the next left corner. From there I could do my sprint exactly as I wanted. It was a really good lead-out and a good team effort.”
Final overall winner, Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo): “It was a great week. Heavy, but also very good. I am very happy with such a strong team around me, especially for a stage race in which every second counts and if you have to pay attention to everything. You have to have confidence and stay calm. Then it is also very nice if you have an experienced group around you, who do a lot of work. I’m glad I was able to finish it. Fortunately, no crazy things happened today. It was all about control, and we didn’t even have to be in the lead because other teams wanted a sprint. That was fine and the team kept me safe from the front, especially in the final. That was the most important thing today. We checked the race and had a plan that worked well. Floortje Mackaij ensured good positioning on the descent, after which Pfeiffer Georgi took care of two corners and Susanne Andersen entered the last corner. From there I could do my sprint just the way I wanted. It was a very good lead-out and a great team performance.”
Thüringen Ladies Tour Stage 6 Result:
1. Lorena Wiebes (Ned) DSM in 2:28:28
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing
3. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:02
4. Jolien D’Hoore (Bel) SD Worx
5. Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM
6. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
7. Gladys Verhulst (Fra) Arkea
8. Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar
9. Zsófia Szabó (Hun) Andy Schleck-CP NVST-Immo Losch
10. Anna Henderson (GB) Jumbo-Visma.
Thüringen Ladies Tour Overall After Stage 6:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Trek-Segafredo in 17:53:35
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing at 0:09
3. Emma Cecilie Jørgensen (Den) Movistar at 0:18
4. Liane Lippert (Ger) DSM at 0:40
5. Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:42
6. Amy Pieters (Ned) SD Worx at 0:50
7. Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Canyon-SRAM at 1:03
8. Christine Majerus (Lux) SD Worx at 1:19
9. Elizabeth Deignan (GB) Trek-Segafredo at 1:26
10. Valerie Demey (Bel) Liv Racing at 1:28.
Thüringen’21 stage 6:
Boucles de la Mayenne 2021
Stage 1 of the Boucles de la Mayenne went to Philipp Walsleben. The German rider of Alpecin-Fenix beat Diego Rubio at the end of the 175 kilometre stage. Walsleben is also the first leader in the French stage race.
The first stage went from Le Genest-Saint-Isle to Ambrières-les-Vallées over three categorised climbs. There was local circuit of 25 kilometres to be ridden twice before the finish on a short hill.
Roger Adrià, Yoann Paillot, Eddy Finé, Maxine Urruty, Diego Rubio and Philipp Walsleben attacked early and formed the break of the day. These six riders took a maximum lead of 5 minutes and worked well together on the way to the finish circuit in Ambrières-les-Vallées. With 35 kilometres to go, the difference to the peloton was still 4 minutes. In the peloton, led by the men of UNO-X and Groupama-FDJ, it was all hands on deck. At 10 kilometres from the line, the break still had 1 minute and this was enough to stay out of the grip of the sprinter’s teams. There was an acceleration from Rubio and Walsleben and the Spaniard and German were able to drop the others. The two leaders started the last kilometres together, but Walsleben did not intend to wait for the sprint. The German, who started his career in cyclo-cross, attacked again and rode Rubio off his wheel for his first victory of the season. Arnaud Démare won the sprint from the chasing group at 11 seconds, in front of Kristoffer Halvorsen and Bryan Cquard.
Stage winner and overall leader, Philipp Walsleben (Alpecin-Fenix): “We got a big lead surprisingly. Only Groupama-FDJ rode in the peloton. After a hundred kilometres I believed in my chances. We still had a big lead and I still felt pretty good at that time. It was in the final I had to do something, because at some point not all riders were more willing to work together. I finally managed to ride away with Rubio, a strong guy who drove well on the flat. That was beneficial for me. The final was good for me, since it was quite steep up from 800 to 400 metres from the line. The plan was to attack there, since the last 200 meters were flat again. I knew that in the last kilometre I could play my cross technique, hoping to build a gap. I myself had good legs. It was then a matter of riding to the line. Normally a escape group has a better chance in the coming stages. That it succeeded now is beautiful and I didn’t expect it.”
Boucles de la Mayenne Stage 1 Result:
1. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix in 3:59:48
2. Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH at 0:07
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:11
4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
6. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
7. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën
8. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM
9. Bram Welten (Ned) Arkea-Samsic at 0:15
10. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:17.
Boucles de la Mayenne Overall After Stage 1:
1. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix in 3:59:48
2. Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH at 0:16
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:22
4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X at 0:26
5. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
6. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
7. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën
8. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM
9. Bram Welten (Ned) Arkea-Samsic at 0:30
10. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA at 0:32.
Boucles de la Mayenne stage 1:
Arnaud Démare took the sprint at the end of Stage 2 of the Boucles de la Mayenne. In Évron, the French rider from Groupama-FDJ sprinted to victory, Niccolò Bonifazio finished second, Kristoffer Halvorsen third.
Early in the race four men escaped: Žiga Jerman, Stan Dewulf, Ángel Fuentes and Francisco Galván and were joined a little later by Morne Van Niekerk. They took 4 minutes on the peloton, where Alpecin-Fenix controlled for overall leader Philipp Walsleben. When the race got into the hilly section, the lead for the five started to come down. First Bob Jungels and Rasmus Tiller tried to get away from the peloton, later Benoît Cosnefroy also attacked to join the leaders. Jerman was dropped by the break with 85 kilometres to go as was Fuentes a little later. Cosnefroy, Dewulf, Galván and Van Niekerk started the Le Montaigu, the fourth climb of the day, with a 3 minute lead. There Van Niekerk had to let go. In the peloton, more and more teams helped with the chase, including Uno-X and Groupama-FDJ. In the last 40 kilometres, the lead of the three remaining attackers started to decline, but they still held their ground for a long time. Galván ran into problems with five kilometres to go and had to let Cosnefroy and Dewulf go, they were only caught in the last kilometre. Niccolò Bonifazio started the sprint, but Arnaud Démare managed to get past him before the line. Thanks to his stage victory, the French champion jumped to second place overall, behind Walsleben.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “Our two guys did a great job. It was going really fast, the gap was going down, the kilometres went by quickly and we knew we would catch them. I had all my guys to do a great sprint and that’s what we did. We took control a bit early but Miles was very strong. We were in the lead at the kilometre-marker and we remained there until the end. Ramon did a very good pull, he took the last turn very fast, Jacopo gave another hard push in the last hundred metres and when I saw that guys were launching their sprint at the right, I opened mine at the left and it was just full-gas until the line. Physically, I was happy with my performance yesterday and the team did their part as well, but you can’t win every time. It’s been five weeks since the whole group has raced for the last time, we are all coming back to racing. We are there to get into the race rhythm but also to get confidence and victories. I take it day by day, today was the hardest stage. If we continue like this and repeat some great sprints, we’ll see where it can lead us…”
Boucles de la Mayenne Stage 2 Result:
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 4:11:32
2. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
3. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
4. Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
5. Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
6. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
7. Matteo Malucelli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
8. Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
9. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
10. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM.
Boucles de la Mayenne Overall After Stage 2:
1. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix in 8:11:05
2. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ at 0:12
3. Diego Rubio (Spa) Burgos-BH at 0:16
4. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X at 0:22
5. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis at 0:26
6. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM
7. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Team Total Direct Energie
8. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
10. Benoît Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:29.
Boucles de la Mayenne stage 2:
Arnaud Démare took his second consecutive victory in the Boucles de la Mayenne. The Groupama-FDJ sprinter finished ahead of Craon Kristoffer Halvorsen and Nils Eekhoff at the end of Stage 3. Due to a break in the peloton, the Frenchman also took the leader’s jersey from Philip Walsleben.
The finish line of the 183 kilometre long third stage on Saturday was in the French village of Craon. Although the race profile and the four categorised climbs seemed to indicate a selective stage, it came down to a sprint again. Early in the stage, Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix), Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels), Ludovic Robeet (Wallonie Bruxelles) and Jonathan Restrepo (Androni Giocatolli-Sidermec) attacked, but the peloton made sure that their lead was always catchable. At 15 kilometres from the finish, Bayer and Robeert were the last to be caught, after which a few more riders from the peloton went looking for the stage victory, including Italian Alessandro Fedeli, however, he was not allowed any space. In the sprint, Démare was able to thank his Groupama-FDJ team for their generous lead-out by winning again. Kristoffer Halvorsen was second, Nils Eekhoff third. Arvid de Kleijn finished fourth.
Stage winner and overall leader, Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ): “On his roads, Clément put on quite a performance. The breakaway played a bit with us but we managed everything well and Clément worked for two. The road was slightly uphill in the end, it was really not easy. When we crossed the finish the first time, I thought there might be a split with the slightly uphill road and the turns, so I’m not too surprised. We are doing our own race, we’re getting our habits back, we’re gaining confidence, and all is going well. I’ve won several overall rankings already and here’s another one within my reach, so we’ll do everything to pull it off tomorrow.”
Boucles de la Mayenne Stage 3 Result:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 4:18:48
2. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
3. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM
4. Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Rally Cycling
5. Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal Pauwels Sauzen WB
6. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
7. Daniel McLay (GB) Arkea-Samsic
8. Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Metropole
9. Sasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
10. Jon Aberasturi Izaga (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA.
Boucles de la Mayenne Overall After Stage 3:
1. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 12:29:55
2. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:02
3. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X at 0:14
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM at 0:18
5. Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH
6. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM at 0:20
7. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis at 0:24
8. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
9. Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:26
10. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:28.
Boucles de la Mayenne stage 3:
Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) was the best in the Final Stage 4 to Laval on Sunday and also took the final overall win. The break of the day consisted of Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Roger Adrià (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Alexandre Delettre (Delko). They never got more than 3 minutes from the peloton, where Groupama-FDJ and Uno-X took control. Later, AG2R Citroën and DSM also helped.
Twelve kilometres before the finish in Laval, the last escapees were caught. On the finishing circuit, the sprinter’s teams took over, after which Démare again showed his fast finish in the sprint. He held off Daniel McLay, Bryan Coquard and Nils Eekhoff at the finish. Only in the opening stage did Démare fail to win, Philipp Walsleben won stage 1, but with his three stage victories and the bonus seconds, Démare managed to beat the German.
Overall and stage winner, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ): “It was a tough day. For seventy kilometres, the other teams made us suffer. It was a really hard start and the fight lasted two hours before a group finally went. We had to control and try to use our energy well. The rest of the peloton didn’t know if we were going to pull. Eventually, as a rider in the break was thirty-three seconds down on GC, we had to, but if they had been further in the rankings, we might have let it go. It was quite hectic, we suffered a bit on the circuit. We also felt the previous days’ efforts and there was a strong fight for positions. Still, we fought well and we made it. It was close, but we made it. The first goal was to secure the general classification, which we did. The victory is just the icing on the cake. We have the Tour in our sights, that is our main goal. The Boucles de la Mayenne was on our way in order to get ready, gain confidence and pile up victories. It’s done. Now let’s keep going!”
Boucles de la Mayenne Stage 4 Result:
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 4:14:55
2. Daniel McLay (GB) Arkéa Samsic
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
4. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM
5. Stanisław Aniołkowski (Pol) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
6. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
7. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X
8. Jon Aberasturi (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
9. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën
10. Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.
Boucles de la Mayenne Overall After Stage 4:
1. Arnaud Démare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ in 12:29:55
2. Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:02
3. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X at 0:14
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM at 0:18
5. Diego Rubio (Spa) Burgos-BH
6. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) DSM at 0:20
7. Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis at 0:24
8. Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
9. Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix at 0:26
10. Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën at 0:28.
Boucles de la Mayenne stage 4:
Caleb Ewan Returns to Racing at Baloise Belgium Tour
Following an unexpected and premature abandon at the Giro d’Italia, Caleb Ewan has resumed training. The recovery of his knee injury is going well and his participation at the Tour de France will not be affected. Ewan will resume competition at the Baloise Belgium Tour, which takes place from Wednesday 9 till Sunday 13 June.
“After my abandon at the Giro I was off the bike for a few days but I have resumed training now and everything seems to be going in the right direction. I just hope I didn’t lose too much of my shape because I really needed more race rhythm. That is why I was so disappointed to pull out of the Giro with the ‘maglia ciclamino’ on my shoulders. The plan was to continue for at least another week and trying to reward the team with at third stage victory”, says Caleb Ewan.
“The Baloise Belgium Tour is definitely a good race, as a preparation towards the Tour”, adds Lotto Soudal’s General Manager John Lelangue. “In 2019, Caleb prepared for the Tour de France via a similar run-up with the ZLM Tour now being the Baloise Belgium Tour. Last week, I travelled to Monaco to discuss both the short and long-term planning with Caleb. That went smoothly and we are both optimistic about the Tour de France. If everything falls into place, there should be around seven sprint opportunities where Caleb can go for one or more stage wins.”
“Obviously, the fact that Lotto Soudal currently only has two riders left in the Giro makes me quite unhappy but believe me, so are the riders who had to leave the Giro. Therefore, I am a little frustrated by the criticism from people who are not aware of the problems our riders have faced at the Giro. The fact that we have only two riders left in the race is an unfortunate turn of events. Lotto Soudal is and always will be a team of attackers, which we showed at the Giro and are still showing, even though only two of our riders remain in the race. We will keep on racing aggressively, starting at the Critérium du Dauphiné”, John Lelangue concludes.
Meanwhile, Kobe Goossens – who had to leave the Giro following a crash – has received good news. A scan revealed that Kobe did not sustain any fractures. The 25-year-old Belgian has already resumed training and if all goes well, Goossens will return to racing at the Tour de Suisse.
Caleb Ewan leaving the Giro:
Peter Sagan in Talks with Total Direct Energie
Where will Peter Sagan be next year? The Slovak has been associated with Deceuninck – Quick-Step in recent weeks, but according to the French sports newspaper L’Équipe, Total Direct Energie is also interested in the three-time world champion.
L’Équipe reports that talks are currently underway between the Sagan camp and Total Direct Energy’s team management. Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team is said to have plans to make the step up to the WorldTour and is therefore looking for a new leader.
Specialized, the personal sponsor of Sagan, would like to continue with the Slovakian and would also want to provide Total Direct Energie with bikes. In addition to the French squad, two more teams are interested in Sagan’s services. La Gazzetta dello Sport reports the interest of Israel Start-Up Nation.
31-year-old Sagan is out of contract with BORA-hansgrohe. Both parties are still talking to each other, but the Slovak may be leaving. Patrick Lefevere, the team CEO of Deceuninck – Quick-Step has said that he would not sign Sagan with his entourage.
Where is Sagan going?
Lennard Kämna Extends Contract, But Skips the Tour
Good and bad news for Lennard Kämna: the German rider extended his contract with BORA-hansgrohe for a year, but will probably not ride the Tour de France. Kämna is struggling with an infection and is taking a break.
“After much consultation with my coach and the team, I have decided that I will most likely not participate in the Tour de France this year. A difficult decision that hurts,” said Kämna through his team. He won the stage to Villard-de-Lans last year. “For now, I have postponed my goals and plans for the season until late summer.”
The 24-year-old rider had nevertheless started the season well with a stage victory in the Volta a Catalunya. “After that I had to contend with an infection, which I still had in the Volta ao Algarve. I also had to cancel the altitude training I had planned for the Tour. Maybe I went a bit too fast in the spring and paid too little attention to my recovery.”
At the same time, BORA-hansgrohe announced that Kämna had extended his contract with the team for one year. “I am in the perfect environment here and the past weeks have only confirmed that. We have common goals, which I still love to pursue. Now I first want to get completely fit again.”
Lennard Kämna winning in Catalunya:
Spectator Largely Liable for Collision in De Ronde 2014
Flanders Classics is partly responsible for the collision between Johan Vansummeren and a spectator during the Tour of Flanders 2014. The woman who stood on a traffic island is for the most part liable for the accident, according to the judge seven years after. In 2014 an investigation was opened by the Public Prosecution Service for the liability of the incident. In the Tour of Flanders, Vansummeren crashed into the woman, Marie-Claire Moreels, when he jumped over the street furniture. She hit her head on the curb and was taken to the hospital in a critical condition and still suffers from the incident.
The judge decided that no one was to be prosecuted for the accident. According to the police judge, people are liable. According to the judge, the woman has made a mistake by standing on the traffic island. She has been liable for two thirds. Organiser Flanders Classics, responsible for security on the race, is liable for a third part. The liability is important because it is determined who has to pay the various compensation. It is not yet known whether the parties will appeal to the judgement.
Johan Vansummeren in Flanders:
Out Now: Unclipped with Giacomo Nizzolo
A new episode of the Team Qhubeka ASSOS podcast – Unclipped – is out now featuring the European and Italian champion, Giacomo Nizzolo.
After a near-decade long wait Nizzolo won his first-ever grand tour stage in Verona at the 104th Giro d’Italia, in a moment he describes as an “explosion of emotion”.
The 32-year-old also reflects on his evolution as a rider in recent years, his future goals and why he will be doing everything to be at the 2021 World Championships in Flanders.
‘Unclipped with Team Qhubeka ASSOS’ is available via all podcasting platforms including:
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Iran into the spotlight
It wasn't just the news that Napa Valley heavyweight Darioush Winery is sponsoring the Victoria & Albert Museum's "Epic Iran" exhibition (which opened this weekend in London) – from label to cellar door, the company makes no secret of its Persian roots. There was came the news that an Iranian expat orthodontist was bringing a bit of Shiraz to Bergerac, in South West France.
Masrour Makaremi hails from Shiraz (the city) and is about to commercialise his own Shiraz, a 100 percent Syrah made at Vignobles Dubard in Makaremi's adopted Bergerac/Montravel region. Dubbed " Cyrhus" (as in Cyrus the Great, king of Persia – who historically predates Darius but in terms of wine labels comes some time behind Darioush's Darius), the wine is due for release in June.
The wine is aged in amphorae, of course, and, according to vitisphere.com, only 559 bottles will be available (559 BCE was the year of Cyrus the Great's accession to the throne as king of Persia).
"I was born in Shiraz," says Makaremi. "My destiny was written around the Shiraz grape variety."
Biden will fail and voters will quickly realize that they screwed up
This is not a “dire prediction” because we will recover from Joe Biden’s more generalized failure as a president, but it could be quite a painful process for us to get back on the political track we had become very comfortable with.
The reason Mr. Biden will fail so soon is that many more millions than voted for him will realize — and quickly — that they made a mistake. In some ways, it will be a similar reaction than was to the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, when many of his voters quickly realized they had screwed up.
So why/how did we elect the wrong person — both in 1976 and again in 2020? The exact reason for this was/is the focused public voter reaction on a single and very specific set of circumstances, rather than as an endorsement of a generalized political agenda.
Specifically, in 1976, it was the collective negative reaction to the Watergate scandal, the resignation of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon. The earlier resignation of Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew — as part of a separate scandal — also contributed. Result? A single negative issue set and Mr. Carter was elected.
In 2020, we were — and still are — in the midst of a pandemic that has killed millions worldwide and hundreds of thousands of Americans. As such it was understandably the most central and single significant issue of the election and it alone primarily determined its outcome — ergo Mr. Biden.
Doubt this? Just answer this very specific question: Had there been no COVID-19 pandemic — none at all — who would have won our 2020 election? Answer: Donald Trump by a huge landslide, as he was the architect of the most significant short-term economic prosperity in our recent history.
And this reality was proven over and over in continued and improved employment and income statistics for all aspects and sectors of our economy — especially workers and more especially women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and the other measurable demographic groups.
However, and despite Mr. Trump’s record economic prosperity, a majority of Americans “voted the pandemic,” which also elected Joe Biden. Do we doubt this? Had the Democrats been in office and the pandemic struck as it did last year, the result would also have been voting the Democrats out — and directly because of the pandemic, a single-issue election.
So, Mr. Biden would have most likely not been elected had there not been a pandemic. But there was/is a pandemic and Mr. Biden was elected as a consequence. However, the premise here is that he will also fail — and soon.
How exactly will this happen? It’s simple really, and will be the result of a combination of some basic factors:
• The COVID-19 pandemic will persist, along with the political accusations of incompetency. The Biden administration will suffer as did the Trump administration, albeit with far less negative media attention.
• Personally, Mr. Biden is a consummate and self-promoting nitwit — has been for many years — and it will be impossible to hide this from general view as we will be forced to listen to his gaffes every day. But again, with far less negative media attention — as the media will report on him reading from the tele-prompter.
• The economy will continue to reflect the negative effects of the pandemic — and the federal government will continue to have a minor role in managing local pandemic effects and dynamics.
• The assumption of the DNC and the Biden administration that the 2020 election was some kind of liberal mandate will fail miserably. And this dynamic will likely be the main factor in Mr. Biden’s failure.
• Issues such as “U.S. Supreme Court packing,” elimination of the Electoral College and statehood for D.C. will cause almost immediate voter reaction in the makeup of Congress. This just as the Clinton administration’s restrictions affecting Second Amendment freedoms did in the 1994 “off year” election — when Republicans captured control of Congress for the first time since 1952 by picking up eight seats in the Senate and 54 seats in the House. This will likely happen again if the “Liberal Mandate” fantasy is taken seriously by Mr. Biden and his DNC crew.
• Mr. Biden’s kid Hunter, and his family business relationships with China will continue to embarrass, causing Mr. Biden to continue to avoid and misrepresent the issues with a series of increasingly unbelievable statements.
• Our national security, intelligence and foreign policy will do an abrupt flip back to the Obama administration’s dual pattern of failure and misrepresentation — and with many of the same Obama appointees put in senior jobs. This will result in a net reduction of U.S. influence in various international fora and also in our key bilateral relationships. And the “costs” of these collective actions will be enormous — mostly to the direct detriment of our immediate and longer term national security, both at home and abroad.
• Foreign trade? Look for the cancellation/reduction of the enormous trade advantages the Trump administration negotiated for us and the resulting negative impacts on our economy.
Am I wrong? Well, as our moms used to say: “We’ll see”, and as we also know, that usually meant “no.” The advantage of these predictions is that we will know — and soon — whether they are accurate … and so will Joe Biden.
The 2020 election was not in any way a liberal political mandate — rather it was a focused reaction to a serious national and worldwide health emergency.
• Daniel Gallington writes about national security related policies and politics. He served in a series of senior national security policy, intelligence and arms control positions.
Top 5 Must-Reads: Weekly Round-Up - 9.11.2015
From the best ways to implement sports marketing for your business to the future of mobile usage, here is a quick round-up of the best marketing, advertising and local business related content you may have missed this week:
Mobile has exceeded desktop usage for the first time in Internet history. What does this mean for your brand? This question may be a difficult one to answer, but this post from Hubspot helps get you started in the right direction.
Facebook remains one of the top social platforms to reach your consumers. However, as Facebook ads and sponsored posts are starting to take center stage, make sure your regular posts don't get lost in the shuffle by using these six tips.
The world of digital marketing is always evolving, and in the midst of a hectic schedule, it can be tough for any business to keep up. This post provides a quick update on the top 10 trends to watch in digital marketing as the new year approaches.
Football is back! This means consumers are more likely to be tuned-in to the Web and their televisions take advantage of this season of high-engagement by following these three sports marketing tips to reach your consumers - without spending your entire advertising budget on a Super Bowl ad.
BONUS: Have you seen our Sports Marketing Coach? Use this interactive tool to build on your sports marketing knowledge!
We've highlighted the importance of a solid brand "story" before, and "storytelling" is a common buzzword in the marketing world today. Make sure your customers know your story is authentic with these tips from ClickZ.
EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
The Tour of Flanders didn’t disappoint – Race report, result and video from the men’s and women’s race, plus the GP Miguel Indurain. Bouhanni defends himself again – TOP STORY. Other news: Paris-Roubaix canceled, Patrick Lefevere has new sponsors, Wout van Aert adds Brabantse Pijl and Amstel to his schedule, everything going to plan for Evenepoel, Dan Martin to ride Giro and Tour and no Ronde for Zdenek Stybar. Race news: Teams for the Tour of the Basque Country. MPCC on the Vini Zabù Team – Arkéa-Samsic want their Giro place. Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.
TOP STORY: Bouhanni defends himself again: “I am not a criminal”
Nacer Bouhanni is still defending his actions in a sprint during Cholet-Pays de la Loire, were the French rider moved from his line and pushed Jake Stewart against the barriers. In a post on social media, he repeats that his action was anything but intentional.
Bouhanni wrote to cycling journalist Patrick Chassé, who he felt attacked him on French television. “A thousand watts probably doesn’t mean anything to you. As you said yourself, you are not a sprint specialist, so why are you attacking me like that? Everyone is engaged in their own work. I would never criticise your working method if I didn’t know about it, so I recommend that you let specialists speak from now on.”
The Arkéa-Samsic rider also discussed his way of sprinting. “You can say that I am a sprinter who takes risks, who does not want to give up his place, who is aggressive, who will do anything to win, whatever you want. But that I deliberately throw myself into the barriers to win a bike race is absolute madness. It is nonsense that I am deliberately putting me and my opponent’s lives on the line.”
“I am not a criminal, but a sportsman who became a father a few months ago. So believe that I would never take such risks for my child alone. I just wanted to win the race and unfortunately it ended badly. But in the malheur, there was also a win because a drama was prevented! When I was overtaken by Jake Stewart I reflexively avoided a crash, and surprisingly no one fell in the sprint,” said Bouhanni.
He also wrote about Jake Stewart. “He is young and I hope he will do a lot of sprints for a long time to come. If he really saw his life pass by like he said in an interview, I advise him to stop sprinting. Everyone knows that unfortunately there are risks involved. It’s not a world of pet bears. And I repeat one last time that I never wanted to cause a fall on purpose. I really don’t want to put us in danger.”
UCI is Investigating the Matter
Bouhanni crossed the line third in Cholet-Pays de la Loire last Sunday, but was ‘de-classed’ afterwards due to a dangerous manoeuvre in the final sprint. He moved from his line and pushed Jake Stewart against the barrier. The French sprinter received a lot of criticism and the UCI started an investigation into his action. While Stewart miraculously survived, the incident was not without physical consequences. The young Brit suffered a fracture to his hand and has had to miss the up-and-coming Classics.
Last week Bouhanni apologised for his behaviour in the sprint. He said through his Arkéa-Samsic team: “I want to say to Jake Stewart that I am sorry. I saw Elia Viviani and wanted to follow his wheel. It’s my mistake to change line. I didn’t see Jake Stewart at the time. When we came into contact with each other, I noticed that I was getting out of balance. I tried as best I could not to fall. I really wanted to follow Viviani’s slipstream as the wind was coming from the right. But my action was certainly not deliberate.”
Tour of Flanders 2021
Kasper Asgreen rode straight into the history books on Easter Sunday, powering to an incredible victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, which he won after being part of all the major moves during the race. The first Dane in 24 years to triumph in Flanders, Kasper completed a prestigious E3 Harelbeke – De Ronde double and confirmed his status as one of the peloton’s finest Classics riders.
Nineteen climbs and seven cobblestone stretches, this year’s 254.3km Ronde van Vlaanderen witnessed another masterclass from Deceuninck (Elegant) – Quick-Step, who came into the race with several cards to play and once again controlled things with the likes of Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq and Bert Van Lerberghe, who chased down the breakaway, putting pressure on the peloton in the last 100 kilometres. Racing the Ronde van Vlaanderen for the second time in the rainbow jersey, Julian Alaphilippe was another rider who played a big role in the team’s success, going clear on the ramps of the Koppenberg and forcing the other favourites to show themselves earlier than expected. A regrouping took place on the descent, Kasper Asgreen being among those to join the World Champion, who continued to be the driving force of that leading group. A second jump from Alaphilippe on the Taaienberg distanced some of the riders, paving the way for an attack of his Danish teammate with 27 kilometres to go. Only Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) could follow, and the three worked well together, quickly opening a gap over the chasers. On the Oude Kwaremont, the Dutchman went full gas and put some distance between him and his companions, but Asgreen gritted his teeth and joined him on the descent.
The Paterberg didn’t change anything, and the duo continued to soldier on, extending their lead to more than 30 seconds over a chasing group with 10km to go. Many were expecting Asgreen to gamble everything on an all-or-nothing attack in the closing kilometres of the race, but the 26-year-old Dane had something different in mind and continued to trade turns with the defending champion until the final kilometre. Knowing the advantage they had over the chasers was unbridgeable, Asgreen played his cards perfectly and waited for Van der Poel to show his intentions before opening his sprint. A powerful kick saw him surge past his opponent with 50 metres to go and claimed a historical win, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s eighth win in 19 years at the iconic Belgian race. Asgreen is the ninth rider in history to complete the E3 Harelbeke – Ronde van Vlaanderen double in the same season.
Race winner, Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “I can’t believe it! Ronde van Vlaanderen is the most beautiful race in the world for me, the cobbles and steep hills make it awesome, and to win it two years after I podiumed at my debut here feels incredible! It’s three years to the day I raced for the first time with this team and to be on the top spot at Flanders makes it even more special. It was a hard day, but I felt good and I couldn’t be happier with this win that capped off a stellar job of my Elegant – Quick-Step teammates. I am grateful to the entire team. Tim, Davide and Bert did an incredible race to keep us protected and having Julian in that front group helped as well. It wasn’t all smooth today, as I got caught behind a big crash with more than 60 kilometres to go and that took some energy to come back, but I still felt good after that effort and could follow all the attack on the climbs, which gave me a lot of confidence. That’s why I attacked inside the final hour of racing and seeing I made an important selection, I kept going together with Mathieu and Wout until the last time up the Oude Kwaremont. I was briefly distanced just before the top, but gave my best to come back and on the Paterberg me and Mathieu rode full gas, never looking back and determined to increase our lead. I didn’t have enough in the legs for an attack in the final kilometres, so I decided to trust my sprint. I wanted to do my best there, so I decided to start it from the back, as I felt it was the best way to control it. I produced a powerful turn of the legs, but it was only with ten meters to go that I believed I could win. I was confident in my left and I am extremely proud I could finish off my teammates’ incredible work! It’s been an incredible Classics campaign for us and to power to victory on my Specialized bike and add to my palmarès this race which I used to watch on TV as a kid is insane.”
2nd, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix): “I would have liked to succeed myself. I can accept it because he was just stronger. A sprint after 260 kilometres is not the same as a sprint after 200 kilometres. It was sprinting to my limit. The cobblestone climbs suit me very well. They’re in the saddle, but Asgreen was able to follow my attacks every time. So we realised pretty quickly that we were going to need each other. Asgreen is certainly the deserved winner. He also made a point of riding to the finish together. That says enough. He felt good. I certainly didn’t think it was over. In the sprint I could turn it on for five seconds, then that was it. He is someone who dares to set a race and dares to continue to the finish, I like that.”
3rd, Greg van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën): “Even if I did not have the same legs as in A Travers la Flandre (Dwars door Vlaanderen) on Wednesday, I managed to be at the front in the end. With my experience in this race, I succeeded in getting onto the podium. I know that at a classic like the Ronde Van Vlaanderen after 254 kilometres of racing, I still have resources at the end. The podium was the goal for the day, so I have no regrets today. I am happy to take my first podium at AG2R Citroën team, which has invested a lot in the Flanders classics. The whole team worked well this winter, we are happy to race together, and we work well together.”
6th, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I had hoped for a better feeling because this was my main goal, but it was no longer possible. I just got off it. I kept on fighting, but at the end it was gone. I thought: let it be over as soon as possible, because I was no longer wholeheartedly in it. On the Paterberg I was even in trouble. After that I tried to stay ahead of that group, but I couldn’t anymore. Whether I am disappointed? Yes and no. There was no more to it and I didn’t drop any stitches, but I had hoped for a better feeling. This was the main goal of my spring. I just need to recover from this.”
Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe): “The Tour of Flanders, as expected, was very hard and fast. We had a strong squad and I’d like to thank them for their work but, unfortunately, when the decisive attacks came, my current form just wasn’t enough to respond and follow them. I need to keep working in order to reach the level I had before being infected with Covid.”
Tour of Flanders Result:
1. Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 6:02.12
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
3. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën at 0:32
4. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo at 0:32
5. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:47
6. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
7. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) INEOS Grenadiers.
Tour of Flanders Women 2021
The 2021 Tour of Flanders for women was won by Annemiek van Vleuten. After 152 kilometres, Movistar’s European champion was the first across the finish-line in Oudenaarde. On the last climb of the Paterberg, Van Vleuten broke away from a leading group of eight to finish solo. This is the second victory in the Ronde for Van Vleuten, after she won in 2011.
A compact peloton started the last hilly 50 kilometres. Annemiek van Vleuten attacked on the Kanarieberg, forming an elite group. From that group escaped Audrey Cordon-Ragot of Trek-Segafredo. The French champion gained a 45-second lead. At the Kruisberg-Hotond, 28 kilometres to go, Soraya Paladin of Liv Racing tried to cross. The thinned peloton with all the big names remained intact towards the finalé with the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. Just before the first climb, Paladin and Cordon-Ragot were caught. Lotte Kopecky had a mechanical at the foot of the Kwaremont, and had to continue on the bike of teammate Paladin. World champion, Anna van der Breggen, put in a strong effort which cased a few riders to be dropped, including Marianne Vos. Seven riders were able to follow: Annemiek van Vleuten, Elisa Longo Borghini, Grace Brown, Lisa Brennaur, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Demi Vollering and Marta Cavalli.
The eight had a lead at the Paterberg, the last climb of the day, 13 kilometres from the finish. European champion Van Vleuten pulled out all the stops and was 10 seconds ahead of Longo Borghini, Van der Breggen and co. The group with Vos and Kopecky were already at 40 seconds. The difference between Van Vleuten and the chasing group continued to fluctuate around 10 seconds, but Movistar’s time trial specialist held up well. With Dwars door Vlaanderen already in her pocket, Van Vleuten was able to keep taking time. Because it came to a standstill behind, she started the last 2 kilometres with a safe lead. Van Vleuten had plenty of time to celebrate the victory. The sprint for second place was won by Lisa Brennauer. Third place went to Grace Brown. Anna van der Breggen finished eighth in her last Tour of Flanders.
Race winner, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar): “”I still can’t believe it. It’s been so many years seeking for another victory here, and today it finally happened. I was always super prepared heading into this race, but I always came on the verge of success. Our strategy for today was never letting other teams use their strength in numbers against us. That’s why we started working early and that’s why I tried from so far away from the finish. I wanted to just go on the Kanarieberg, but there was a headwind and that made difficult to open any gaps. However, I feel like that attack took its toll on the group and made things more difficult for everybody, which suited me well. After that move, I had to seek for another appropriate moment to try it. At the Paterberg, I knew there were no second chances left, and I had to enter first, exit first. After that attack, it was just doing my maximum and counting the kilometres down. I was so tired, but I could just go ‘full gas’ until the finish. It wasn’t easy at all, but we finally got it again. It’s a really special day for the Movistar Team, which had never won a classic like that, and it’s really beautiful to live these moments with them. Thanks to the whole team, for their fantastic job once again they all played a part in this success. Also to Telefónica and our sponsors, and everybody who loves and supports us.”
3rd, Grace Brown (BikeExchange): “Flanders is always such a busy day, there’s always so much that happens at this race and you can’t get it all right, but I think we really did well on some of our key points and had a really good race. I had an awesome lead-out into the bottom of the Kwaremont from (Sarah) Roy and (Amanda) Spratt and then I attacked at the top as we had planned. I got a bit of a gap but unfortunately the girls behind me closed that down pretty soon. Annemiek then got away on the Paterberg, it was a small gap and it felt like we should have been able to bring it back but unfortunately it just wasn’t co-ordinated enough in the chase. You can’t be disappointed with a podium at Flanders. Of course I came here wanting to win it, but I am really happy with third and I can have bigger goals for next year I think.”
Tour of Flanders Women Result:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Movistar in 4:01:11
2. Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT at 0:26
3. Grace Brown (Aus) BikeExchange
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
5. Demi Vollering (Ned) SD Worx
6. Marta Cavalli (Ita) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
7. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope at 0:28
8. Anna van der Breggen (Ned) SD Worx at 0:35
9. Marlen Reusser (Swi) Alé BTC Ljubljana at 0:51
10. Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank at 0:55.
GP Miguel Indurain 2021
Alejandro Valverde won for the first time after almost a year and a half in the GP Miguel Indurain on Saturday. The Astana-Premier Tech pair of Alexey Lutsenko and Luis Leon Sanchez took second and third.
Vincenzo Albanese, Jon Irisarri, Mikel Aristi, Emerson Oronte, Antonio Carvalho and Angel Madrazo were part of the early break, but before the finalé they were pulled back by the peloton on the Alto de Lazaun. The next group to escape included Luis Leon Sanchez, Ben Swift, Ben Hermans and Jefferson Cepeda. Movistar were in charge of the peloton, but without Enric Mas after a crash. On the descent of the Alto de Lazaun they increased their lead to 40 seconds. Movistar lost control of the peloton for a while, but Trek-Segafredo for Bauke Mollema took over. They didn’t close the gap, but attacked with Nicola Conci 40 kilometres from the finish. The Italian got within 15 seconds, but that was as close as he could get. Before the Alto de Eraul, the last climb of the day, Conci was caught by the peloton as the four up front held on to their lead.
Once on the Alto de Eraul (3.8 kilometres at 5.5%), Cofidis hit the front for leader Guillaume Martin. The leaders were losing time. No attacks succeeded on the final climb, until Valverde launched himself 900 metres from the top. The Spaniard managed to make a small gap and managed to cross to Sanchez. The two of them pushed on together towards the finish in Estella. From a chasing group, Lutsenko crossed to the two front riders with 6 kilometres to go, but the Kazach was unable to hold them for long. After a jump from Valverde 400 metres later, Lutsenko had to let go, although he did manage to catch them again. A final kick from Valverde was too much for Sanchez and Lutsenko. The 40-year-old soloed to victory in Estella. Lutsenko dropped his teammate, Sanchez for second place with Pello Bilbao finishing fourth at 17 seconds.
Race winner, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): “This victory gives me joy and confidence. Hopefully we can assert ourselves there (Tour of the Basque Country) again. The legs are good and we have a great team. For today I would like to thank everyone who continued to support me and keep an eye on me, as well as my team who did a fantastic job. They (Astana) controlled from the start. That’s why I was a bit afraid of them. Those two super strong riders didn’t make it easy for me either. Lutsenko even passed me just after Muru, but then I knew that the slope to Ibarra was still coming. I had made up my mind to give everything there to still make a difference.” Valverde dedicated his victory to Gary Baños, the Movistar employee who died in a mountain accident at the beginning of the year. “Wherever he is, I am sure he has received this victory with great affection.”
2nd, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech): “I recovered pretty well after my crash at Paris-Nice and since then I’ve done a big amount of work to come back in form for this part of the season. I am still on my way towards the Ardennes classics, but so far I feel good and I think I spent a good day on the bike. I suffered a bit in the first half of the race, while later I felt much better, so I was up there in front for the decisive part. When I saw Valverde attacking from our group and catching Luis Leon, I counterattacked to join them. Together with Luis Leon we did our best, I tried to attack on the descent, but it did not work. Well, it was a good chance to win this race and we did all we could for that, but this time Valverde was just stronger. However, I am happy with my performance and now I am looking forward to the next week at Itzulia Basque Country. The main goal is still the same – to build up my form for the Ardennes, but if I see a chance to fight for a stage win I will try to use it.”
3rd, Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana-Premier Tech): “Once again, I was close to a victory, but missed it. Of course, I am a bit disappointed because I did my best today, but it was not enough. The team was perfect, and the guys did an amazing job for me, providing the best moment to attack. Everything went well in our late breakaway and I made my attack on the last big climb, but later Valverde was able to join me. Together with Alexey we tried to play our cards, but it did not work out. I have no regrets about this race as the team and I did all we could. Now I am looking forward to a short rest at home before coming back to racing with the Tour of the Alps and the Giro d’Italia.”
GP Miguel Indurain Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 5:10:47
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech at 0:06
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech at 0:15
4. Pello Bilbao Lopez De Armentia (Spa) Bahrain Victorious at 0:17
5. Elie Gesbert (Fra) Arkea-Samsic at 0:18
6. Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Start-up Nation at 0:21
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
8. Jesus Herrada (Spa) Cofidis
9. Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
10. Laurens De Plus (Bel) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:30.
Paris-Roubaix is Canceled on April 11
The final decision has been made: Paris-Roubaix will definitely not take place on Sunday 11 April. The current corona measures in Northern France make it impossible for the ‘Hell of the North’ to run at the moment. Organiser ASO reports that cobbled Classic will be postponed until the autumn.
The préfecture of the Hauts-de-France region, Michel Lalande, made all his doubts public last week. His region is in a four-week lockdown, requiring residents to stay within a 10 kilometre radius of their homes. Le Parisien then announced that Paris-Roubaix would definitely not take place, but that was quickly contradicted. The organisation explored the route last week and looked at the possibilities to drastically reduce the amount of spectators, so that the race could still be held on the original date of April 11. The decision whether or not to proceed was therefore postponed to this week.
Last year, Paris-Roubaix was also canceled due to the corona crisis. There seems to be a curse on the women’s edition, which was to be organised for the first time in 2020.
No Paris-Roubaix this spring:
Patrick Lefevere New Sponsorship Contract: “I hope for news within a few days”
Patrick Lefevere hopes to come up with news soon about the future of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, namely that the team will continue and that riders will remain on board. “Within a few weeks, hopefully even days,” the team manager said at a press conference when asked by WielerFlits. His own deadline was March 31, two days ago.
The Belgian team boss joked that he sometimes says just too much, but then continues in a serious tone. “We are on track. I wanted to finish it for the Tour of Flanders. We have a clear plan and project. It is also not about one serious sponsorship proposal that is on the table, I will have to do it with several. Not that I am complaining about that, on the contrary. In terms of budget, we are the sixth or seventh team in the peloton, but we do have the most UCI victories,” Lefevere continued. “I promise you that within a few weeks – hopefully even days – I will come up with news. The first will hopefully be that the future of the team is assured and the second news will hopefully be that I can confirm a number of riders.”
Good news from Patrick:
Wout van Aert adds Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race to His Race Schedule
Wout van Aert will make his debut in the Brabantse Pijl this year, the Jumbo-Visma rider said in a press conference. After the cancelation of Paris-Roubaix, the Belgian has decided to add the Amstel Gold Race to his program.
Van Aert initially planned to take a short rest after Paris-Roubaix. Now that the cobbled Classic has been moved to the first weekend of October, the Belgian rider has decided to extend his spring a bit more with the Brabantse Pijl on April 14, and the Amstel Gold Race on April 18. The 26-year-old Van Aert has never ridden Brabantse Pijl, but has raced the Amstel Gold Race once. In 2019 Van Aert crossed the line in 58th place in a large group more than four minutes behind winner Mathieu van der Poel.
When it became clear that Paris-Roubaix, a classic that Van Aert has set his sights on, would definitely not take place on Sunday 11 April due to the current corona measures in Northern France. The ‘Hell of the North’ for men and women has been moved to Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 October.
Wout will see those cobbles in October:
Lodewyck: “Everything is going according to plan for Evenepoel”
Remco Evenepoel returned to Spain last Thursday for a three-week altitude training camp in the run-up to the Giro d’Italia. The recovery of the Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider is going well, sports director Klaas Lodewyck told Het Laatste Nieuws.
In the Sierra Nevada, Evenepoel will train with João Almeida, who is also preparing for the Giro. “With this altitude camp, Remco is entering the final phase of his preparation for the Giro,” said Lodewyck. “Pure condition. Get extra climbing rhythm. To then appear at the start in Turin on May 8 with the best possible level of form.”
“Everything is going according to plan,” the sports director indicated. At the beginning of this year, Evenepoel had to stop, because his pubic bone injury had not yet fully recovered. “Remco is no longer bothered by anything, that is the most important thing. A positive signal too. The Sierra is a great base. Hopefully the weather will be a bit nice there in the near future. And he can do what he has to do. In that case he will be pretty good anyway.”
On Wednesday, the day of Dwars door Vlaanderen, Evenepoel trained in the Flemish hills and was spotted on the Oude Kwaremont, among other places.
Back to racing in the Giro for Evenepoel:
Martin to Ride Giro d’Italia and Tour de France
Dan Martin will be at the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 8. The Irish climber is the leader of Israel Start-Up Nation. After the 2010 edition, it will be the second participation in the Italian stage race for 34-year-old Martin. In the summer he will also start the Tour de France.
“After 2010, the Giro simply did not often fit into my program, in addition to the Ardennes classics and the Tour de France,” said Martin. “The race looks good for the team to me. I can’t wait to go for a stage win to complete my series of stage wins in the three Grand Tours. It feels like I’m about to discover a new race, like I’m a neo-pro.”
Team manager Kjell Carlström thinks the Giro course is perfect for Martin. “On paper it fits very well with his style of racing. It will be interesting to watch, as there are clearly a lot of favourites. Dan is surrounded by a team that can support him on the flat and in the hills,” said Carlström. The Irishman also rides the Tour after the Giro. “We believe he can perform well in both Grand Tours.”
Giro and Tour for Martin:
No Ronde for Zdenek Stybar
Following his appearance at last week’s Gent-Wevelgem, Zdenek Stybar reported to the Deceuninck – Quick-Step medical team that he was feeling unwell. After an investigation by the medical team, it was revealed that the rider from the Czech Republic was suffering from a heart rhythm problem, for which it was recommended that he would undergo an ablation procedure. This procedure was successfully carried out by Professor Pedro Brugada, on Wednesday, at a Brussels Hospital.
Zdenek has now been cleared to return to training, but it was felt that Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen would be too early for him to return to competitive racing, so instead he will take some days off to spend time together with his family. Giving his thoughts before Flanders, Zdenek said: “I am obviously disappointed to miss De Ronde on Sunday. I have been watching the build-up and excitement on the television and the feel and the passion for this period of racing, with E3, Gent-Wevelgem, Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, is my favourite part of the season. I had been training well and felt that my form going into this weekend was the best that I have had for some time. But I am lucky that this is a minor surgery, and I am grateful that it happened and has been fixed, not only with the perspective of the rest of my season, but also my overall health. After a huge check-up it was nice to know that it was nothing more serious. I will take some days off now to relax with my son and my wife and then look forward to starting training again. I would like to thank the team’s doctors, professor Brugada, and the staff at the Uccle Hospital for the great care that they afforded me, and at the same time, wish my teammates all the best for Sunday.”
Get well soon:
Pogačar leads the squad at Basque Country
After an impressive start to the season where he has claimed victories in both the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico, Tadej Pogačar will now turn his attention to his next objective: the Tour of the Basque Country (5-10 April).
The Slovenian heads to ‘La Itzulia’ for the second time, having won the young riders classification and placing 6th overall in the 2019 edition. It’s a race he is keen on and will be hoping to be in the mix to wear his first ‘Txapela’.
Pogačar: “I’m feeling pretty good. I got to have a bit of a break after Tirreno, then I did some wind tunnel testing and a few media and sponsor engagements. I’m excited for Basque Country. I did this race a couple of years ago and the fans there are really passionate about cycling, I love it there. There will be a lot of hard racing for sure and the level will be high as always, but I hope to be up there fighting to win the ‘Txapela’.”
Diego Ulissi will make his long-waited return to competition after spending many months on the sidelines while undergoing cardiac checks. The Italian has been back in full training and has now been given the all clear to race again.
Ulissi: “It’s been a tough few months but I’m delighted to say that I am finally coming back to competition. Training has gone well and my condition is good. Obviously it’s always hard to say exactly where you stand until you race but I’m confident I’ll be in good shape. At the moment, racing again already feels like a victory.”
The team for Vuelta Pais Vasco will be lead by Team Manager Joxean Matxin Fernandez (Spa) with Sports Directors Andrej Hauptman (Slo) and Aurelio Corral (Spa):
-Valerio Conti (Ita)
-Marc Hirschi (Swi)
-Rafal Majka (Pol)
-Brandon McNulty (USA)
-Tadej Pogačar (Slo)
-Jan Polanc (Slo)
-Diego Ulissi (Ita).
Chaves Motivated for a Strong Overall Showing as he Leads Team BikeExchange at Vuelta al Pais Vasco
Colombian climber Esteban Chaves will lead Team BikeExchange’s GC ambitions at next week’s Vuelta al Pais Vasco, coming straight from a strong performance at the recent Volta a Catalunya, where he picked up an impressive solo victory on the Queen stage before finishing in sixth place overall.
The 30-year-old will have top support squad alongside him with local Basque hero Mikel Nieve lining-up for his first stage race of the 2021 season, whilst Australian climber Damien Howson and Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay provide additional climbing support for the race over relentless terrain.
With half of the stages including first category climbs, positioning will be crucial as the riders navigate through the rolling hills of the Basque Country, and for this, the team recruit super domestiques Chris Juul-Jensen and Amund Grøndahl-Jansen, with Dion Smith giving a solid option for the faster stages after his strong showing in Catalunya.
Team BikeExchange at Vuelta al Pais Vasco 2021:
Esteban Chaves (COL)
Amund Grøndahl-Jansen (NOR)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Damien Howson (AUS)
Chris Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Mikel Nieve (SPA)
Dion Smith (NZL)
Esteban Chaves: “Pais Vasco is a different type of race to Catalunya, it is a race I love but it is a different style race and there will also be other riders like Roglic and Pogačar. There are shorter climbs and steeper climbers compared to Catalunya and it also depends how it is with the weather. I think it will be a tricky one with the time trial on day one, we will see but we need to go step-by-step. If we had three riders in the top-10 overall in Catalunya then why not in Basque Country too and we will fight for a stage win. We saw Dion was really good last week so I am sure he will also have a good opportunity again which is also is exciting for us.”
Julian Dean – Sport Director: “We have seen Esteban’s performance recently at Catalunya and that has indicated to us that he deserves our full support for Pais Vasco. We have a pretty good team for that and so we will be going there with that approach.The time trial is first up so that will set the precedent for the race and then we will be able to decide our tactics from there. Already by stage three, it is a pretty hard finish with a short steep climb, we will have a good idea then how it is really looking for the overall. One of the other things that Basque is good for, is for a rider like Dion Smith who can sprint and climb. There should be some opportunities for him and he showed in Catalunya that his form is good and he can take a lot of confidence from that race coming into Pais Vasco.”
Esteban Chaves stage win in Catalunya:
Ion Izagirre to Defend 2019 Title at the Itzulia Basque Country
Ion Izagirre returns to the Itzulia Basque Country as the defending champion as winner of the last edition of the race in 2019, after the 2020 race was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“As always Itzulia Basque Country provides us with a very tough route. So, we have to be ready for an explosive start right from the beginning. In the first stage, we will face a very technical and difficult time trial where the first battle between the GC favourites will play out. Also, the second and the third stages are very hard with many short, but super steep climbs as, for example, the wall of Ermualde in the final of stage three. The last day to Arrate will be a short one, but at the same time, super intense with a lot of climbs and 3500 metres of elevation. There is no doubt that anything could happen there. I think I am ready for the race, coming here after a very productive training camp at altitude. I’d like to fight for the General Classification and I want to try to defend my 2019 title. Of course, it won’t be easy at all as many big names are lining up, but we also have a very strong team,” says Ion Izagirre.
Itzulia Basque Country is famous for its traditional hard route featuring many steep climbs. The 60th edition of the race begins with a challenging individual time trial in Bilbao with two ramps up to 19% and a long technical descent. The sixth and final stage of the race will see the peloton face a tough parcours with seven categorised climbs, including the final ascent to the iconic Arrate climb near Eibar.
Astana – Premier Tech is coming to the Basque Country with a strong rider roster including four riders set to race on home soil, with Alex Aranburu, Omar Fraile, and Oscar Rodriquez joining fellow Basque teammate Izagirre at the start line.
The team will target both the General Classification and stage wins, explains Sport Director, Giuseppe Martinelli.
“Itzulia Basque Country is one of the most beautiful races in the calendar and it was always an important point for our team as we were always aiming good result at this race. This year, we also are coming to Basque Country with a very strong and ambitious team. Ion Izagirre is the defending champion and for sure he will try to do his best to repeat his success. We also have Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko who are coming here to prepare for the Ardennes week and, there is no doubt, they will try to do something good here. Alex Aranburu and Omar Fraile are our riders, who will fight for a stage win, and they have good chances to succeed. I am looking forward to the next week at the Itzulia Basque Country as I think we are ready to show ourselves in a good way,” says Giuseppe Martinelli.
Itzulia Basque Country, 6 stages. 5 – 10 April 2021
Alex Aranburu (ESP), Stefan De Bod (RSA), Omar Fraile (ESP), Jakob Fuglsang (DEN), Ion Izagirre (ESP), Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ), Oscar Rodriguez (ESP).
Sports directors: Giuseppe Martinelli (ITA), Bruno Cenghialta (ITA).
Deceuninck – Quick-Step to Vuelta al Pais Vasco
The 13th World Tour race of the season takes place between 5-10 April
One of the numerous races to be cancelled last year, the Vuelta al Pais Vasco returns this spring with its 60th edition, one which will start with a 13.9km individual time trial in Bilbao featuring some brutal 19% gradients in the last kilometre, enough to set the pecking order ahead of the hilly stage to Sestao. Ermualde, just outside Laudio, promises plenty of fireworks on Wednesday, when the yellow jersey contenders will have another big opportunity to gain time on the slopes of this short but excruciating climb (3.1km, 11.1%).
Packing four classified climbs, stage 4 to Hondarribia will be the longest of the race and should be an excellent opportunity for the breakaway specialists to shine before a visit to Ondarroa, where the fast men should hit the spotlight. The last stage promises to deliver full gas racing right from the off, as the riders will take in six classified ascents before the finish on the mythical Arrate (6.4km, 6.4%), which will include a 14.9% stretch not far from the top.
UCI World Team Classification leader Deceuninck – Quick-Step will travel to the Basque Country with a strong squad consisting of Mattia Cattaneo, National ITT Champions Josef Cerny and Ian Garrison, Mikkel Honoré – who at last week’s Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali sailed to his first pro win – James Knox, Pieter Serry and Mauri Vansevenant.
“Pais Vasco is one of the toughest races of the year, with steep and tough climbs that make it very hard to control. The weather is another factor which can play a big role, with the rain and wind usually having the potential to be decisive in the outcome, and it doesn’t look like this year it will be any different. Our team is a mixture of youth and experience, the riders are all motivated and will go to the start having shown a strong form in their previous races, so we’re confident we can get some nice results next week,” explained Deceuninck – Quick-Step sports director Geert Van Bondt.
05.04–10.04 Itzulia Basque Country (ESP) 2.UWT
Mattia Cattaneo (ITA)
Josef Cerny (CZE)
Ian Garrison (USA)
Mikkel Honoré (DEN)
James Knox (GBR)
Pieter Serry (BEL)
Mauri Vansevenant (BEL).
Sports Director: Davide Bramati (ITA) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).
Landa Leads Bahrain Victorious at Itzulia Basque Country
In the Itzulia Basque Country starting on Monday, April 5, Mikel Landa joins the team to compete for the GC at Itzulia.
The Basque Country’s six-stage race begins with an ITT that starts with a 2.6km climb and finishes with a brutal 600m climb with a 19% gradient. Stage 2 takes on La Asturiana, a 7.6-kilometre climb with an average 6.2% gradient before descending towards the finish. The third stage has a similar profile, but the last 3.1 kilometres take on a challenging 11% climb to the finish. Stage 4 brings us elements of the Clásica de San Sebastián with the riders climbing the Alto de Jaizkibel and Puerto de Erlaitz in the last 50 kilometres. The Jaizkibel is a 6.9-kilometre climb at 6.2%, while Puerto de Erlaitz is a 7.4-kilometre ascent with a mid-section of 3.8 kilometres at 10.6%. The last 10-kilometres to the finish will be a test of the riders’ descending skills and may determine the stage’s outcome.
The term ‘flat’ is not often used in races in the Basque Country, but Stage 5 is as close as it gets. This will be one of the stages that the sprinters will be looking for at the finish line in Ondorroa. The final stage is also the Queen Stage, with seven challenging climbs compressed into 111.9-kilometres of racing. The stage finishes near the Arrate Sanctuary with a final climb of 4.5-kilometre 8.9% climb.
Sports Director Gorazd Štangelj shared his thoughts ahead of the race: “We are coming to race at Tour of Basque Country on a very high level and to accomplish the fine-tuning for the upcoming Giro d’Italia to build up everything around Mikel Landa, our GC, and see if anything is missing that we can improve on time before Giro.
We would also like to see how Rafa Valls recovered after last year’s injury at Tour de France. We believe he came back in good shape as he worked really hard in the past period. We raised our quality of racing at the past Tirreno-Adriatico, making us positive for the upcoming races. The first Itzulia stage is an individual time trial, and it’s not going to be easy. Neither one stage is easy at the Basque Country, but the last one, the Queen’s Stage is definitely the hardest, but also the biggest challenge for Mikel Landa. Pello Bilbao is in good shape. Our riders, young guys like Gino Mader and Mark Padun, and experienced Rafa Valls, Eros Capecchi and Yukiya Arashiro will give their all for Mikel, who is one of the favourites in GC, together with Primož Roglic and Tadej Pogačar. Well, there could always appear some other rider for the big result there. I believe that every member of our team, every rider, every staff member will give his best, uprise the performance to the maximum to have a peaceful road to Giro d’Italia”.
Mikel Landa is feeling good ahead of the race: “The tour of Basque Country is going to be very special for me as always. I think that racing at home gives you a special sensation and I am feeling very good. I feel I’m in very good shape after Tirreno-Adriatico. I’m focused on the Giro d’Italia, and all my preparations are focused on being 100% there. I feel competitive at the moment, and I think it’s going to be a very hard Basque Country like always. The first stage we have is the ITT. I hope not to lose too much time. If I lose some, I will use the other stages for a stage win and reach the best possible position in the GC”.
Pello Bilbao is motivated ahead of the race: “I can say that I have a special motivation now for this race every year. We didn’t have the opportunity to be in our home race last year. We missed it a lot, so this year, it is great to turn back and have a chance to race on our home roads, and I’m especially motivated for the first TT day in Bilbao. It’s a very special moment for me to have the opportunity to start the race with an ITT, which is my favourite and my specialty. I was working hard in the last few years and had to improve myself for every second possible. I’ve got the opportunity to perform an ITT that suites me quite well in our capital, Bilbao. It’s going to be a great day for sure, but just a pity that we’re not going to be cheered by the Basque fans along the parcour. I think we’re going to miss them a lot because I think all our fans make this race so special. Despite this, we will have a great race, a great spectacle with all the big names there and us. Mikel and I are very motivated, and we will try to go for the podium or try to win this race. I will have the opportunity at Indurain race to see where I am. Do a good test and get to the real racing mode for the Tour of Basque Country”.
Team Bahrain Victorious lineup:
Yukiya Arashiro / Pello Bilbao / Eros Capecchi / Mikel Landa / Gino Mäder / Mark Padun / Rafa Valls
Itzulia Basque Country (April 5-10)
Having returned to competition at Cholet Pays de Loire, Benoît Cosnefroy will be at the start of the Itzulia Basque Country with only one day of competition so far this season. A professional since January 1, Nicolas Prodhomme will participate in his first UCI WorldTour race at the Itzulia Basque Country.
Larry Warbasse: “I feel that the form is getting closer to where I want it. The sensations were not that great when I returned to racing. Then after Tirreno-Adriatico, I was able to do a good block of training at home and I feel that I have been improving. We have a great team at this Tour of the Basque Country (Itzulia Basque Country) and I am happy to be at the start. It’s always a difficult race it will also help me to work towards the rest of the season, and especially for the Giro d’Italia which is my big goal.”
Preview Itzulia – Hermans: “We will show ourselves, as always”
The 60th edition of Itzulia Basque Country (2.UWT, 05-10/04) will kick-off next Monday. The race comprises of six stages. As tradition goes, the many riders use this competition as a critical stop for Amstel Gold Race and the Walloon classics, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which will come later in the month.
And this shows in the rough stage profiles. First test is a time trial of about 14 kilometres around the city iconic city of Bilbao. It finishes on top of a short climb of more than 2 kilometres with ramps up to 19% within the last 1000 meters! The second stage seem a perfect fit for the punchers with a few climbs of 2nd and 3rd category with, once again, a tough uphill finish. Stage 3 is very serious business: the finishing point is in Ermualde, at the end of a 1st category climb with an average percentage of 10% and peaks of 20%. Also stages 4 and 5 are stuffed with hills but end up on flat roads. The stage race closes in style with the queen stage to Arrate. There are no less than seven categorised climbs: three of 1st category, one of 2nd and three of 3rd category. That makes more than 30 kilometres uphill in total. Then, we will know the successor of Ion Iazgirre, who won the last edition of Itzulia Basque Country in 2019.
Under the guidance of sports directors Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will make its debut in the Spanish stage race. The selection consists of our Norwegian Odd Christian Eiking, youngsters Theo Delacroix and Alexander Evans, the latter lining-up for his second Spanish stage race after Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. We also look forward to the first road race for Belgian cyclocrossman Quinten Hermans, the first stage race of the season for Maurits Lammertink, another great performance of Lorenzo Rota and the second appearance of our new rider Georg Zimmermann.
Multitalent Quinten Hermans divides his time between cyclocross and road racing. He is totally ready to kick off his 2021 road season in the Basque Country.
Quinten Hermans: “After my last cross of the season in Oostmalle, around one-and-half months ago, I rested a few days until I started my training again on the following Friday. The first training sessions were rather easy-going, afterwards the intensity and the duration got higher and higher. Now I just got back from Tenerife, where I did a training camp on El Teide. So I feel ready for the start of my road campaign in the Basque Country. Here, I would like to test myself a bit. I don’t have a specific goal for this race but I’m aiming for a good result. I have to. Otherwise I could have just stayed at Tenerife and kept on training. A lot of good riders participate in this WorldTour race but that doesn’t worry me. After a training camp in altitude it’s hard to know how high my level is compared to the peloton’s but we’ll know soon enough. For now I can only say I really look forward to racing again! The general classification is not something that is significantly important to me at this moment. I think we have to be in the spotlights as a team, like we always try to do. That’s parts of the team’s DNA. Maybe, if I lose some time in the first stages, I may get some freedom to go in a breakaway. That seems like a key to success. Itazulia is an important part of my program, under to compete for my main goals this spring. I want to be in great shape for Brabantse Pijl. I know this race very well because I often train in the area of the finish in Overijse. But there’s more than this. I’ll also ride the Walloon classics and I also dream of riding a grand tour this year!”
Odd Christian Eiking
Sports directors: Valerio Piva and Jean-Marc Rossignon.
MPCC on the Vini Zabù Team
The Italian team holds the record for the greatest number of doping cases over the last decade. Despite a new scandal – The second in the last 12 months, the team expects to attend the next Giro. MPCC condemns the serious damage this affair causes to the image of cycling.
Whatever the amount of resources allocated to the fight against doping, some riders will still choose to cheat. Though, this simple observation is not a thread for the credibility of cycling. However, when these events occur multiple times, year after year, within the same team, and when the institutions fail to break the cycle, it represents a terrible blow to the credibility of cycling.
Team Vini-Zabù gave us a striking example this week, as one of their riders was provisionally suspended by the UCI for assumed doping (EPO). Of course, as the process is still ongoing, we should remain cautious while we wait for the results of the second sample. Though, the previous cases are not cause for optimism. The latest cases happened less than a year ago.
This Italian team, which appeared within the peloton in 2009, has been subject to 9 doping cases in the last twelve years. The incriminated substances are always the same heavy well-known products (5 EPO cases, 2 growth hormones cases, 1 Clenbuterol case, 1 Ostarine case).
MPCC recalls that team Vini-Zabù belonged to the movement for a short time in 2014. Shortly after, despite two doping cases in less than a year, the team decided it was not relevant to commit to the rules of the movement, the same ones that all our members abide by. We immediately suspended the team and decided to exclude it from the movement during the General Assembly of October 2015.
Since its creation in 2007, MPCC set up a principle that we called today “the voluntary introspection” when a team faces several doping cases in a short period of time. Fourteen years later, this principle remains the same: team members commit to stop the activity of all their riders for 8 days or a whole month, depending on whether it faces a second doping case in 12 months, or a third case in 24 months.
In 2016, this MPCC precept even ended up convincing UCI to tighten its own rules as its anti-doping rules now include the opening of a proceeding that could lead to a 15-day or 45-day suspension of a team when two doping cases occur in a period of 12 months.
If UCI deems so, there is a genuine risk for Vini-Zabù to miss out on the Giro, a race for which it received a wild car again. Since 2009, the team is managed by the same people, Angelo Citracca and Luca Scinto. They were already in charge when each of the 9 proceedings were opened against the Italian team. Yet, some organisers still trust them.
This new case is another element to support our statement given during our General Assembly of last March 2nd our movement was surprised that the Giro d’Italia awarded a Wild Card to a team that suffered a positive test during the last edition. Out of the nine cases involving Vini-Zabù riders, four of them were directly related to the Giro, which seems to not hold any grudge as it still granted 11 Wild Cards to the team in the last 13 years.
MPCC reacts strongly today as the members of it Board deem relevant to defend the integrity of its members (teams and riders) and support their voluntary choice to restore the image of cycling by committing to stricter rules. Our movement deeply regrets that RCS group still does not seem important to react nor give any explanation regarding its choices. As they face yet another doping proceeding, we hope that RCS will take responsibility for the future, even though the Italian organisers already held all the cards to do so after the Giro 2020.
For all these reasons, MPCC calls for all the teams, riders and organisers to join our movement.
Arkéa-Samsic and Nairo Quintana Thinking of Giro d’Italia Again
Arkéa-Samsic, Nairo Quintana’s squad, missed out on a wildcard for the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. The tickets went to Bardiani CSF Faizanè, EOLO-Kometa and Vini Zabù, but the latter team risks a suspension after two positive doping tests within twelve months.
The UCI can impose a suspension of 15 to 45 days on Vini Zabù, after the doping violations of Matteo Spreafico (15 and 16 October 2020) and Matteo De Bonis (16 February 2021). With a maximum suspension, the team would miss the Giro d’Italia and that means that a wild card could be up for grabs. Arkéa-Samsic was previously in the race for a place in the Tour of Italy and leader Nairo Quintana would like to participate in the first Grand Tour of the season this year. “We are currently waiting for more information,” said the Colombian climber in conversation with Ciclismo En Grande.
“The team is certainly interested in a wildcard and then there is a possibility that I will be at the start. However, it is important to emphasise that I am based on the latest rumours.” Should a wildcard become available, Arkéa-Samsic will have to compete against Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec and Gazprom-RusVelo.
The Italian team of manager Gianni Savio took two big prizes in the last edition. Simon Pellaud was honoured as the winner of the intermediate sprint classification, while his teammate Mattia Bais won the Fuga Bianchi for the best breakaway. Gazprom-RusVelo also has several Italian riders.
Quintana in the pink:
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