The Spanish training camps have started, but the Mallorca races have been cancelled – TOP STORY. A full sack of other news: The Belgian cyclocross champs, UAE Team Emirates get covid vaccine, DSM wanted out of Hirschi’s contract. Rider news: Tadej Pogačar want to win the Tour again, Wout van Aert contract, Peter Sagan, Davide Cimolai, Tom Dumoulin, Elia Viviani, Diego Rosa and Guillaume Martin race schedule, Caleb Ewan talks sprinting, Eduard Prades and Ruben Guerreiro injured and Francisco Ventoso retires. Team news: Bahrain Victorious goals for 2021, BORA-hansgrohe and Red Bull, Global6 cycling team, Cofidis women’s team, DSM and Jumbo-Visma rent hotels and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux kit for 2021. Race news: Teams for the Grand Prix La Marseillaise, U23 Eschborn-Frankfurt cancelled, Italy wants the 2026 World cross champs and RAI lose the Giro. Doping news: Prison for Dr. Schmidt and contract for Stefano Pirazzi. Big EUROTRASH coffee time!
TOP STORY: Covid news: Challenge Mallorca Postponed
The Challenge Mallorca has been postponed due to the corona virus. The Spanish series of one-day races would have taken place from January 28th to January 31st. Tour winner Tadej Pogačar, among others, had already agreed to participate.
The serious health crisis that Mallorca is facing as a result of the corona virus and the current corona measures, make it impossible for the organisation to hold the four races at the end of this month. The organisation has submitted a request on to change the dates to 13 to 16 May. “We deeply regret having to make this decision, but the current situation forces us to take responsibility and give priority to the health of everyone involved in the race,” said race director Manuel Hernández. The Challenge Mallorca would have had its thirtieth edition this year.
The Challenge Mallorca consists of four races: the Trofeo Ses Salines, the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the Trofeo Andratx and the Trofeo Playa de Palma. Seven WorldTeams had already agreed to participate, including UAE Emirates. Tour winner Tadej Pogačar would have started his season on the Spanish Island.
Mallorca sprint 2020:
Belgian Men Cyclocross Championship 2021
Wout van Aert won Belgian cyclocross championships for the fourth time in his career in Meulebeke on Sunday. The new father was unbeatable on the West Flanders course. He crossed the finish line with a thumb in his mouth. Toon Aerts and Michael Vanthourenhout fought it out behind Van Aert for the silver; Aerts took it ahead of Vanthourenhout.
Quinten Hermans had the best start, but the others were on his wheel. Due to an early rider jam, Michael Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt fell back. The two favourites had to chase. Laurens Sweeck set the pace at the front. On the second lap, Wout van Aert made the jump to Sweeck, but it was mainly the Jumbo-Visma rider who took the initiative. He put the 2020 champion under considerable pressure and, in the third lap, dropped him. Toon Aerts followed in third place at more than 10 seconds. Vanthourenhout rode away from Hermans and Gianni Vermeersch.
Van Aert maintained a solid pace and extended his lead to 25 seconds. Behind him, Aerts took over second place from Sweeck, who also had teammate Vanthourenhout on his shoulder. The three entered the sixth lap of the nine together. On that lap, Sweeck lost the wheel after an acceleration by Aerts, which only Vanthourenhout could follow. Meantime, Van Aert kept his lead of half a minute over the Aerts-Vanthourenhout duo in the final part of the race. The pursuers kept the pressure high, but Van Aert held out to receive his fourth national cyclocross title.
The battle for the silver medal was settled in favour of Toon Aerts, who managed to distance himself from Vanthourenhout just before the start of the penultimate lap. The leader of Baloise Trek Lions retained a small gap on the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider in the final laps for second place.
Belgian champion, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I didn’t want to say it, but I barely slept six nights, but apparently I don’t need that if you live on a pink cloud. I would like to dedicate this victory to my son Georges and my wife Sarah. It’s been nine months since she took care of it. And this week… Merci Sarah! I felt good in the beginning and was able to expand the gap in a good way. From half the cross I sat à bloc. I had to try to keep that lead, but that was hard enough. I am really very satisfied with this title.”
Belgian Men Cyclocross Championship Result
1. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
2. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek
3. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
4. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal
5. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
6. Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop-Fristads
7. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans CX
8. Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads
9. Jim Aernouts (Bel) Baloise Trek
10. Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers.
Full race on Tiz Cycling:
Belgian Women Cyclocross Championship 2021
Sanne Cant has taken the women’s Belgian cyclocross title for the twelfth time in a row. The 30-year-old leader of the IKO-Crelan team won the gold medal in Meulebeke after a tough solo. Road champion Lotte Kopecky kept the pressure on Cant throughout the race, but had to settle for silver. The bronze went to Alicia Franck.
The fast start was for Sanne Cant, who distanced herself from the others after the first obstacles. Alicia Frank and Lotte Kopecky followed at a few seconds, followed by a group including Ellen Van Loy. But the top-3 was soon formed: Cant, Kopecky and Franck soon separated from the rest. There was no competition for Sanne Cant on the versatile course in Meulebeke, who has not been able to win since her Belgian champs victory in 2020. After two laps, the difference with Kopecky was 15 seconds and with Franck 25 seconds. It was everyone for themselves in West Flanders and the medal winners were determined early on.
Kopecky, the Belgian road champion, managed to keep the pressure on leader Cant. For a long time the gap fluctuated between 10 and 15 seconds. At one moment Kopecky seemed to close the gap on Cant, but the IKO-Crelan rider recovered and lengthened her lead again. The pace of Kopecky forced Cant to keep going. The eleven-time champion could not rest on her laurels and could not afford a mistake. At the start of the final lap, the lead of the three-time world champion had grown to a reassuring 19 seconds, which she held to the finish.
Belgian champion, Sanne Cant (Iko-Crelan): “Nine seconds doesn’t sound like much, but it’s quite a bit on a fast course. That’s why I was never really nervous. It was a difficult course. That was a bit predicted, but during the reconnaissance it started to thaw. During the first lap, the sand section had also ridden quite loose, so that was a bit of a surprise. But in itself I think we had a long cross and that I finished it well. I have tried to make few mistakes. It is always a bit exciting for a Belgian championships. It had also been a long time since I had to put on the team jersey. It took some getting used to, but I am happy that it can go back into the closet for the Belgian jersey. It is a nice course and I am looking forward to a World championships in my own country. Unfortunately it is without an audience. I’m going to give the best of myself, and not just give up. You should never underestimate anyone and I certainly did not do that with her (second placed Lotte Kopecky). She started without pressure and is very technical and strong. I do not think that she would be second.”
2nd, Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing): “I had a good time and at one point I started to believe in it, because she did not ride away from me Sanne Cant). I felt I was losing time on certain technical parts, so I can actually live with it, but during a certain sand section just before the end it went badly, and the gap was really made there. It went well. I was able to maintain my pace and I thought it was nice that I could resist. Sanne made a gap in the first lap and that remained the status quo after that. I was curious for myself how far I could get, then this is certainly not bad. Next year is a very important year. Only after the Olympics, or actually only after the World championships on the road, will I decide what I want to do next. I try not to spend too much time on that now. I look a bit at Lucinda Brand, who is also a good road cyclist. What she does in the cross is really good, but there is a lot of work for me technically. That will not be done 1-2-3. I am certainly not in top form, because I peak towards the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and spring.”
Belgian Women Cyclocross Championship Result:
1. Sanne Cant (Bel) Iko-Crelan in 48:39
2. Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing at 0:22
3. Alicia Franck (Bel) Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT at 1:38
4. Laura Verdonschot (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:17
5. Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Baloise Trek at 2:19
6. Marthe Truyen (Bel) Baloise Trek at 2:47
7. Loes Sels (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 2:49
8. Suzanne Verhoeven (Bel) Vondelmolen de Ceuster CT at 3:10
9. Kiona Crabbé (Bel) Ciclismo Mundial at 3:50
10. Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) Iko-Crelan at 4:08.
UAE Team Emirates Gets Covid Vaccine
The first riders and staff of UAE Team Emirates have been vaccinated against the corona virus, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports. All riders who are currently staying in Abu Dhabi for a training camp have now registered for vaccination.
Team boss Mauro Gianetti previously announced that members of UAE Team Emirates would be vaccinated against the corona virus during the training camp. The covid vaccine is from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm Group. The vaccine is produced by China, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates. The vaccination consists of two doses. Gianetti had previously been vaccinated against the coronavirus, as part of a large group of volunteers trying out the Sinopharm Group covid vaccine. “I had no contraindications. We have already coordinated and planned it all with the medical staff. We are ready.” The riders who will resume racing soon, such as Tour winner Tadej Pogačar, will be vaccinated first, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “As a team, we are extremely proud of the efforts made by the United Arab Emirates. We are very relieved to have been given the opportunity to protect ourselves and other people by getting vaccinated against the virus.”
UAE Team Emirates was hit by some corona cases in 2020. Top sprinter Fernando Gaviria even got infected with the virus twice. Team osteopath Dario Marini also fell ill and was even in intensive care for a while.
First in the queue for the vaccine:
Lefevere on the Covid vaccination: “I don’t want to be on the front page with this”
UAE Emirates riders and staff, including Tour winner Tadej Pogačar, were given a corona vaccine last week. The team is the first in the peloton. Patrick Lefevere, manager of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, has his thoughts.
UAE Emirates announced on Friday that almost the entire team has been vaccinated against the corona virus. Lefevere said to Sporza that the Emirates team vaccinations do not make him jealous. “That means that they are more efficient than us? I think it mainly has to do with the country. I don’t think any team can touch a vaccine right now unless they do it in a devious way.”
He suspects that the Emirates have good ties with China and they paid for it. “But it doesn’t make them race faster. Although you are safe if you have received a vaccine.” The team manager does not hope for accelerated access to the vaccine for his team. “I wouldn’t like to be on the first page of the newspaper and everyone saying that the riders are allowed a bit more because they ride a bicycle. Athletes just have to queue up, just like everyone else.”
Patrick will need his masks a bit longer:
Team DSM Wanted to Get Out of Hirschi’s Commitment
The sudden departure of Marc Hirschi from Team DSM and his transfer to UAE Team Emirates caused quite a stir. It was probably mainly about money, wrote the Swiss paper Blick. The truth is a bit more complicated, says Team DSM.
“Marc Hirschi is now a cycling millionaire,” Blick headlined. According to the Swiss newspaper, a difference of opinion cannot be ruled out, but the transfer probably has mainly financial reasons and the winner of a Tour stage and Flèche Wallonne can earn a million Swiss francs (converted to about €923,000) with his new employer. As a neo-pro he reportedly earned the minimum wage of €29,370 in 2019.
The truth is a bit more complicated, Team DSM told Het Laatste Nieuws. According to Iwan Spekenbrink’s team, Hirschi has not been bought away. Also, UAE Team Emirates did not violate the agreement between teams not to take over each other’s riders while they are still under contract. Therefore, UAE Team Emirates would also not pay a lump sum. According to the newspaper, DSM apparently wanted to get out of the ongoing commitment.
For legal reasons, Hirschi’s departure was announced late. Team DSM made no statement about why the team wanted to get rid of the promising rider.
Why did Marc Hirschi move on?
UAE Team Emirates signs Marc Hirschi
Swiss talent joins the Emirati squad on a 3 year deal.
The 22 year old from Bern, Switzerland had a breakthrough season in the pro ranks in 2020 with highlights including a stunning solo stage win in the Tour de France, victory at Flèche Wallone, second place at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and a bronze medal at the World Championships.
Hirschi, former under-23 World Champion, will now join the team at their pre-season camp in UAE.
Marc Hirschi: “Firstly, I’d like to thank my previous team for everything they’ve done for me over the past three years. I am now happy to be able to say that I am joining UAE Team Emirates. I’m really excited about the move. We share the same approach and goals. The UAE team is moving in the right direction and have been growing a lot over the past years. I look forward to benefit from that dynamic, both for the team and the development of my career. Now I’ll turn my attention to the training camp and getting to know everybody and settling in. This will be my first time ever visiting the UAE so I look forward to discovering the country.”
Pogačar Wants to Defend Tour Title
Tadej Pogačar won the Tour de France in his second professional season and the Slovenian climber hopes to confirm his Tour win. “Of course I would like to defend my Tour title,” said Pogačar, who will not only focus on the French race.
The 22-year-old rider experienced his breakthrough at the highest level two years ago as a first-year professional, but went one step further in 2020 with a win in the Tour de France. However, Pogačar is far from finished in cycling, he said in an interview with the Tour of Valencia. “It is not difficult to motivate myself, because I love to race. I still want to achieve many things in cycling. Of course I would like to defend my overall victory in the Tour de France, but there are other important races. I also hope to win other major races.”
Pogačar, who also won the Tour of Valencia last year, is already thinking about the new cycling season. “I can look back on a good winter period, with a short holiday in the United Arab Emirates. That was nice, but we are now again dealing with stricter corona measures. I am now mainly training again, while I am also busy with sponsoring obligations and media requests. However, I do enjoy it and can’t wait to race again soon.” Pogačar should have started his season with the Challenge Mallorca, but that will now not happen.
Valencia again in 2021?
Wout van Aert on Contract Negotiations
The negotiations between Wout van Aert and Jumbo-Visma about a new contract “look good”. The new father and Belgian cyclocross champion told Sporza. “I would have preferred to have it all right, but it has to be one hundred percent all right.”
The question is when he will renew his expiring contract with Jumbo-Visma. “I’ll ask my Dutch friends about that,” laughs Van Aert. “It is true that I can let it go. I think I’m in a pretty luxurious situation in that area. I would rather have it right, but it has to be one hundred percent right. We are working on it and I think it looks good.”
“At the moment I have a lot of other things to work on, so luckily I am seriously relieved about that by my manager. He follows it all up. It looks good and it will come naturally,” he added.
Earlier this week, WielerFlits reported that main sponsor Jumbo Supermarkets is assuming a contract extension for Van Aert. Ton van Veen (chairman of the supermarket chain) spoke about it at a New Year reception. “He still has a commitment for this year, but we want to keep him with us for longer. Those negotiations look very good. We will also hear that in the coming days and we are very happy with that.”
Things looking good for Wout van Aert:
Sagan Rides the Classics, the Giro, the Tour and the Games
Peter Sagan is planing for a packed race schedule in 2021. The Slovak will ride the Classics, followed by the Giro d’Italia, then the Tour de France and finally the Tokyo Olympics.
Peter Sagan’s program was announced by Ján Valach, his fellow countryman and one of the DS at BORA-hansgrohe. Last year, the three-time world champion rode the Tour and made his debut in the Giro. “That was a serious change from the traditional program,” says Valach in Pravda, Slovakia. “I think he did well. He fought for the green jersey every day in the Tour and continued that line in the Giro. He lacked better preparation, because in other years he had a fuller schedule for the Tour.”
Although he did fight for it, Sagan didn’t win the points jersey in either race, but did win a stage in the Italian tour. His sports director thinks that the Slovak is still strong enough to go for an eighth green jersey in the Tour. “He is one of the fastest riders and can also handle demanding stages. Sometimes he also lacked luck. Or they took his points (in the Tour stage to Poitiers). I still think that was a heavy punishment, but it no longer makes sense to discuss it.”
Sagan will turn 31 at the end of January, but Valach still sees room for improvement with his rider. “Mainly in the Classics, we have already talked about that several times. He is now at the ideal age for this. In any case, they will be his main target in the coming seasons. Of course, it is also important that he retains his mental energy and that he enjoys it anyway. He is a fighter and he can still take victories, especially in the classic races and also in the bunch sprints – if the situation is optimal for that.”
Sagan’s contract expires at the end of this season, but Valach does not want to anticipate a possible departure from BORA-hansgrohe. “We have no time pressure, these are matters for the managers. Peter focuses on his training and performance in competitions. A change of shift? I don’t want to speculate about that. We feel good here.”
Peter Sagan will make his appearance in the Flemish opening weekend this year. The BORA-hansgrohe leader announced in an online press conference in the run-up to the season. The last time Sagan raced in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne was in 2017. In recent years, Sagan has always started his season outside of Europe, namely in Argentina (2020) and Australia (2019 and 2018). He also started in the Tour Down Under four years ago. In 2017, Sagan was very strong in the opening weekend: second in the Omloop and won in Kuurne a day later.
The Slovakian program also includes Milan-San Remo, E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. In the run-up to his start of the road season, Sagan is organising three training camps. He is currently in Italy near Lake Garda. After that, camps will follow in Gran Canaria and in the Sierra Nevada.
Peter Sagan Giro stage win:
Cimolai is Aiming for Milan-San Remo and Giro d’Italia
Davide Cimolai did not have his best year with the Israel Start-Up Nation team. The 31-year-old Italian did not win in 2020. Nevertheless, the sprinter is eagerly looking ahead to the upcoming season, in which he dreams of victories in Milan-San Remo and the Giro d’Italia.
“Without a doubt Milan-San Remo is the best race for me. It is one of the five monuments and the competition that best matches my qualities. I rode it for the first time in 2012. Then I helped Damiano Cunego on the Poggio. Those emotions were great.”
In the years that followed, Cimolai was at the start of La Primavera almost every year, with the highlight being eighth in 2016. This season the Italian is preparing via the Tour of Valencia, Clásica de Almería, Ruta del Sol, Trofeo Laigueglia and Tirreno-Adriatico before the first monument.
The Giro d’Italia then becomes the big goal. For the third year in a row, Cimolai is on the grid to contest the tour through his own country, but he has never won a stage victory. Last year, fifth place to Matera was his best result.
“I don’t like the flat sprints,” he told TuttoBiciWeb. “I need tough finals. In the Giro d’Italia there was only that finish in Matera that suited me. I think it’s a shame that I only finished fifth, because I had a good chance of success. I can’t be satisfied with my entire season either. I didn’t win, that means I made mistakes. Maybe I wasn’t in perfect shape either. Next season I am sure I will win. The team has faith in me and I love the team. I imagine my future with them.”
Davide Cimolai win in Wallonie’19 stage 3:
Dumoulin Focuses on Flemish Classics
Tom Dumoulin opts for a different program for the spring this year. The Jumbo-Visma rider will focus on the Flemish classics, according to WielerFlits.
The Limburger is planning to make his debut in the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and the Tour of Flanders is also featured on his provisional competition schedule. Dumoulin will start his season with an Italian triptych consisting of the Strade Bianche (March 6), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16) and Milan-San Remo (March 20).
Then he opts for two Flemish classics. On March 26, the E3 Saxo Bank Classic is on his program for the first time and a week later also the Tour of Flanders. For Dumoulin it will be his second appearance in Flanders’ Finest. In 2012, in his debut year with the pros, he was called up as a reserve to replace a sick teammate, he didn’t finish.
This race program is also good news for Wout van Aert, it means he will have a strong extra teammate in the months of March and April. Due to his choice of Flemish cobblestone races, Dumoulin will skip the Amstel Gold Race this year. The Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are also not on his schedule. At the end of April, he will close the spring with the Tour de Romandie (April 27-May 2). It doesn’t look like the spring changes will affect the Grand Tours. Next week, the team will discuss it at the training camp in Alicante. The preference seems to be the Tour de France.
Elia Viviani to Choose Between Giro d’Italia and Tour de France
Elia Viviani will be looking for success in 2021, after a disappointing season at Cofidis. The Italian will mainly focus on road races, but also has Olympic track ambitions. So he probably has to choose between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
The Olympic Games will take place this year from July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo, provided that the corona virus doesn’t disrupt proceedings again. Viviani hopes to shine on the track and is already working on an ideal program. The 31-year-old rider will compete in a Grand Tour before the Olympic Games, but has not yet been able to choose between the Giro (May 8-30) and the Tour (June 26-July 18). “We haven’t made a decision yet, we won’t do that until later. The team naturally prefers the Tour, especially since there are many sprint opportunities this year. But if you look at it from an Olympic perspective, it would be better to contest the Giro. There will then be enough time to recover for the Games,” Viviani told Corriere dello Sport.
Viviani will start the new cycling year in Spain, then travels to the Middle East for the UAE Tour, followed by Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Three Days Bruges-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. After these races, Viviani returns to track cycling with the Nations Cup in Newport and the European Championships in Minsk.
A better 2021 season for Viviani:
Martin Wants to Ride the Olympic Games in Tokyo
Guillaume Martin hopes to be part of the French squad for the Tokyo Olympics this year. “It was a great experience to be there at the World Championships in Imola,” the Cofidis rider told Born to Cycle.
The combination Tour de France/Olympic Games: it is a headache for quite a few riders. There is very little time between the French tour and the Olympic road race in Japan. Martin has, however, intended to combine both events, although national coach Thomas Voeckler still has to select him for Tokyo.
“I want to perform well at the Olympic Games, especially after what we experienced at the World Championships in Imola last year,” Martin refers to the world title win of his fellow countryman Julian Alaphilippe. “It was a great experience and I really hope to wear the French shirt in Tokyo.” Voeckler announced earlier that there are three potential leaders for the road race.
Martin also looks with interest at the Ardennes classics, and especially Liège-Bastogne-Liège. “I also hope for good performances in the Ardennes races. I certainly do not want to forget Liège-Bastogne-Liège,” said Martin, was good for several places of honour in 2020, plus the KOM jersey in the Vuelta a España.
Guillaume Martin – España KOM:
Ewan on ‘Sprint Lanes’
Theo Bos argues for a change in the sprint arrivals of road races. The Dutchman advocated, among other things, lines on the road. Caleb Ewan does not like such ‘sprint lanes’. “That would be the worst possible idea. Sprinting is simply dangerous,” said the Lotto Soudal rider.
As a track cyclist Bos works a lot with lines. In road races he thinks of three lines on the road: a line in the middle of the road and two on the side, about a meter from the fences. “You then get so-called ‘sprinter courses’ along the fences, just like on the track. If you are in that section as the front rider, you are not allowed to leave.”
“This prevents riders from wandering on the road,” Bos refers to sprinters and lead-out riders. “If you are at the head of the peloton at three hundred meters in the sprinters’ lane, then you stay there. Getting out means downgrading. If you overtake riders from behind, you are allowed to leave the box, otherwise you cannot pass.”
Passing in the box along the fences is prohibited. “So you can no longer dive into small gaps, like Peter Sagan in the Tour. But you also no longer get the situation that the front rider slams the door.” However, Ewan is not in favour of such sprint lanes. “I hope it never happens, that would really be the worst thing ever.”
“I don’t even know how it should work in practice. Whether you’re sprinting on a ten-meter or three-meter road, it will always be dangerous. A team may also try to block all squares. As a sprinter you know what the risks are, that is a matter of acceptance. It is the sprinters who cause danger during a sprint.”
“Of course, if it is possible to make a fence or other things safer, that must be chosen. But if you end up in the fence, it is because of another sprinter.” Sprinters shouldn’t be muzzled, according to Ewan. “Let us sprint in a fair way, but don’t push us into sprint lanes.”
“A Tour stage that finishes with a sprint is usually boring. If we also have to sprint in certain lanes, that sprint also becomes boring,” said Ewan, who also mentions his Tour stage victory in Sisteron. “That is just nice to watch, how I make my way there. If that were no longer allowed, it would be a shame.”
2020 Tour de France stage 3 in Sisteron – Win for Caleb Ewan:
Bahrain Victorious Outline Goals for the 2021 Season
Team Bahrain Victorious shared their upcoming season plans over two virtual press conferences involving key riders: Mikel Landa, Pello Bilbao, Sonny Colbrelli, Damiano Caruso, Wout Poels, Dylan Teuns, Matej Mohorič, Fred Wright, Jack Haig and Jonathan Milan.
It was the first press conference under the new team name and the first opportunity for the journalists to engage with Vladimir Miholjević in his new role as Technical Director of the team.
“The team is entering its 5th season of existence, achieving nice results and racing with a clear aim to take a step forward in the upcoming year and in the future. We see improvement in the riders roster but also in the staff. The performance first ethos will continue to lead us into 2021. The team aims to offer the best possible support to the riders, the best technical equipment and research & development projects in cooperation with our technical partners. The most important card in our hands is the expertise of our coaches, sports directors and each and every staff member. I would also like to express our gratitude to the Kingdom of Bahrain and His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa for his support and shared vision through our journey in the past but also great vision and project in the future.”
The team will hold their first training camp in Altea Spain next week, for two weeks, with some of the riders heading straight to Volta Valenciana for the debut race of the season.
Speaking about the training camp, Miholjević said “3 blocks of 3 days training with rest day are scheduled in the plan. There will be important testing, especially for time trials. More importantly, the camp will pull all the new riders and new staff members together.”
Team Bahrain Victorious riders are looking forward to training together soon.
After a good off-season period, the team are all looking forward to the new season, highlighted by Mikel Landa: “I’ve had a very good rest. After the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I stopped and recovered both my mind and my body, and now I’m ready for the new season. I want to start it in Andalucia, then we have to choose between Tirreno and Catalunya. For sure I will be racing in Itzulia. We’re waiting to see the course of the Giro d’Italia, but I would like to be there also. My goal is to win a Grand Tour, at the moment the Giro, then we will see. I would like to be competitive again and fight for the podium or victory at the Giro. My aim is to ride also the Tour de France. Grand Tours remain my main goal.”
Supporting Landa pursuing Grand Tours will be his teammates who were formidable at Tour de France: Bilbao, Caruso, Mohorič, Poels and Colbrelli.
Pello Bilbao is looking for this own opportunities when possible, after his impressive display at last seasons Giro: “This year’s Giro will be a great opportunity for Mikel. I will be there to support him, as I will be at the Tour. If possible, I would like to have my own opportunities to win a stage, we will see. You never know when opportunities will come, particularly in this uncertain period. It’s important to be always ready.”
Damiano Caruso was another important helper for Landa at the Tour de France: “I’m looking forward the upcoming season. My first goal is keeping last year’s high level and if possible, improve. My aim is still to help Landa and the team. Try to win a Grand Tour with him is the aim of everybody in the team.”
The Olympics being held this year is also an ambition for many of the riders such as Wout Poels: “I would really like to go to the Olympics. I think if I do a good Ardennes block, I’ll have a good chance to go. The course suits me very well, and I’ve already had experience at the Olympics and it was very nice.”
Newcomer Jack Haig is also looking forward to the Olympics and getting integrated with the team at the training camp: “I’m super excited to begin a new part of my career with Bahrain Victorious and looking forward to joining my new team on the upcoming training camp and on my first race that will be the Volta a Valenciana. I have the Olympics as big goal of mine, that probably will be my only chance in my cycling career. The Ardennes block will be decisive to make the selection. It’s the first time I’ve changed team since I started my professional career. Therefore my aim will first of all be to integrate with the new team and feel part and comfortable.”
Besides Grand Tours, Team Bahrain Victorious will target the Classics too. Teuns, Colbrelli, Poels and Mohorič are all talented riders to face the various Classics races and the Monuments in the calendar.
Flanders Classics and Ardennes Classics will be Dylan Teuns main goals: “I’m really motivated towards these races. I was really surprised about my performance in my first participation in Tour of Flanders last year. Also, Liège will be my biggest target for Spring races. The Olympics features a parcour that suits me and for sure the performance of the first part of the season will be fundamental to make the selection.”
Matej Mohorič is looking to build on his good results at Milano-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège: “I’m more focussed on the Grand Tours supporting my captain, but I would like to take my opportunities in Classics races too. I will be at the start of Strade Bianche, Sanremo, Amstel and Liège.”
The team’s huge talent for the Belgian Classics is Sonny Colbrelli: “I’m happy with the new experience with the role of helper in the Grand Tours, but for sure, my aim is to win my dream races like Tour of Flanders and Milano-Sanremo. Without forgetting that in 2021 there will be the World Championships in Leuven that really suits me.”
The team also focussed on its younger talent during the press conference with Fred Wright and new signing Jonathan Milan.
Milan commented, making his debut professional season: “I feel good and happy to be here in this wonderful team. I’ve a lot of expectations for the upcoming year. My focus for next year is the Track Olympic Games and improve my performance in the time trial. I want to give my help to the team.”
After impressively supporting Poels at the Vuelta a España, Wright is looking to improve and gain more experience: “Last year I tried to gain as much experience as possible. Riding my first Grand Tour was pretty special. I would like first of all to continue gaining as much experience as possible, especially in the Classics race.” Miholjević also commented about Wright’s potential: “From the team’s perspective, we put a lot of attention on his future. We strongly believe that he’s one of the riders of the new generation.”
Bahrain looking for success in 2021:
Rosa Gets Free Role in One-Day Races
Diego Rosa signed a two-year contract with Arkéa-Samsic at the end of 2019, but his first season in the team was cut short due to the corona crisis and a broken collarbone. The 31-year-old Rosa didn’t have much of a 2020 season, but will take revenge in 2021.
Rosa, who has ridden in the past for Androni Giocattoli, Astana and Team Sky, will be given a free role in the most important one-day races. “I will compete more one-day races this year and be free to do my own thing,” he told Spaziociclismo.
“In stage races I will again be employed by Nairo Quintana. I am very satisfied with my program and the team is clearly confident in my capabilities.” Rosa should have started his season with the Challenge Mallorca, but should ride the Trofeo Laigueglia, Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and the Ardennes Classics. The experienced Italian climber has already made an impression as a one-day racer in the past. He won Milan-Turin six years ago and finished fifth in the Tour of Lombardy. In 2016 he even finished second in Il Lombardia behind Esteban Chaves. The Colombian managed in to overtake the Italian in the sprint.
Rosa hopes to participate in the Giro d’Italia again this year, although his Arkéa-Samsic team is dependent on a wild card. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Nairo Quintana wants to compete again in the Tour of Italy this year. “We hope for a wild card for the Giro. It is the best Grand Tour of the season,” Rosa believes.
Diego Rosa disappointed in Lombardia 2016:
Seven WorldTour Teams in Grand Prix La Marseillaise
The organisers of the Grand Prix La Marseillaise (January 31) will have seven WorldTour teams this year. Last year, four WT teams participated in the south of France. In addition to home teams AG2R Citroën, Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ, UAE Team Emirates, EF Education-Nippo, Lotto Soudal and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert will also be on the start-line of the Grand Prix La Marseillaise. Last year only AG2R, Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ and NTT Pro Cycling were present.
There will also be seven ProTeams: Delko, Total Direct Energie, Arkéa-Samsic, B&B Hôtels p/b KTM, Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Equipo Kern Pharma. The start list is completed by three continental teams: Saint Michel-Auber 93, Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole and Cambodia Cycling Academy.
The first race of the French season is celebrating its 43rd edition and will be longer than usual at 171 kilometres, 26 kilometres longer than last year. According to the organisation, this change is a one-off. The main obstacles remain unchanged.
2020 Grand Prix La Marseillaise podium:
Prades Out for Three Months After Ski Accident
Eduard Prades is forced to postpone his debut with the Delko team. The Spanish rider, who rode for Movistar last year, has broken his thigh in a skiing accident.
Prades has had a successful operation. He is expected to be on the sidelines for three months. He should start the new season at the end of January with the GP la Marseillaise, but due to his injury he has to postpone his start of the season. This winter, Prades left Movistar after two seasons for Delko. He is one of the intended leaders for the French team.
Ruben Guerreiro Back on the Bike After a Collarbone Fracture
Ruben Guerreiro is recovering well from a clavicle fracture, which he sustained in a collision with a car more than two weeks ago. The Portuguese rider, who won the blue mountains jersey in the Giro d’Italia last year, is now able to cycle outside again.
“I’m not 100 percent yet, but I can move my arm again and train on my bike again,” Guerreiro said via his EF Education-Nippo team. The Portuguese rider gets help from a physiotherapist at home and has already noticed a lot of improvement in his shoulder. Team doctor Kevin Sprouse is also closely involved in his recovery. “Fortunately it is a fairly standard healing process for the collarbone. That should show in his recovery. Most riders experience such an injury and Ruben is doing well.”
While Guerreiro pays a lot of attention to his recovery, and has once again set his sights on a return. “I am motivated every day to recover and do things right. Fortunately, the days pass quickly.”
Ruben Guerreiro Giro stage 9:
Francisco Ventoso has decided at the age of 38 to put an end to his cycling career. The experienced Spanish rider was with the CCC team last year, but the Polish sponsored team has now disappeared.
Ventoso started his professional career seventeen years ago with Saunier Duval. The Spaniard was a strong sprinter and took a lot of good victories with Saunier Duval, Movistar, Andalucia-Caja Sur and Carmiooro-NGC. Later he signed with BMC and CCC to become a strong worker. Ventoso won two stages in the Giro d’Italia in 2011 and 2012, a stage in the Vuelta a España and Paris-Brussels. He was also successful in the Tour Down Under, the Ruta del Sol and the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli. He was also Spanish road champion in 2012.
In 2009, he tested positive for the banned drug furosemide in an out-of-competition control, but his nine-month suspension was eventually reversed. Seven years later, he suffered deep cuts in Paris-Roubaix after a disc brake accident. “After seventeen seasons I have decided that it has been great as a cyclist,” Ventoso said via Instagram. “I have experienced good and bad moments, but it has shaped me into the person I am today. I want to thank everyone for the support, especially the people who are never in the spotlight and my family. This is certainly not a goodbye, as the bicycle will always be central to my life. I hope to share my experience with the new generation. Today I am starting a new chapter and with some new and great projects.”
U23 Eschborn-Frankfurt Cancelled
Bad news for the U23 riders as the organisers of the Eschborn-Frankfurt has decided to cancel the U23 edition for this year, it should have been held on May 1, 2021.
The race organisation needs all its efforts to comply with the corona restrictions for the professional race, and this is at the expense of the U23 race. Eschborn-Frankfurt U23 has in the past been won by Fabio Jakobsen, Mads Pedersen, Lasse Norman Hansen, Sven Erik Bystrøm and Marc de Maar. Last year’s race, just like the professional race, was also canceled due to the corona virus. The last time the race was held in 2019 Frederik Rodenberg was the winner. The Dane, who currently races for Uno-X, beat Kaden Groves and Jake Stewart on that occasion.
Eschborn-Frankfurt U23 is the first U23 race to be dropped from the cycling calendar. The pro edition will continue as usual on Saturday 1 May.
Ackermann won the Pro race in 2019:
Italy Wants the 2026 World Cyclocross Championships Rome
Italy is going to make a bid for the organisation of the 2026 World cyclocross championships. According to national coach Fausto Scotti, the Italian cycling federation is planning to bring the world championship to Rome. Earlier, there was also talk of a World Cup round in Rome.
“One of the goals is to bring the cyclocross World championships that will be held in 2026 to Rome. It should then take place in the Circus Maximus,” he told Tuttobiciweb. Circus Maximus is a large stadium in the centre of Rome, which was used in ancient times for chariot races. The last time the UCI organised the World cyclocross championships in Italy was in 2008. In Treviso the world titles went to Lars Boom and Hanka Kupfernagel. A Cyclocross World Cup took place in Italy in the 2016-2017 winter season in Fiuggi (an hour east of Rome).
Last weekend, the final round of the ‘Giro d’Italia di ciclocross’ was completed, and so Scotti is looking ahead. The Italian championship are up next and then the World championships. Fabio Aru was a candidate for the World champs in Ostend, but Aru is not yet certain of a place. “He’s done well and I don’t want to rule him out yet,” said Scotti. “But I cannot guarantee him a selection for the World champs yet,” the national coach continued. “We first have to look at how the Italian championships go and then at his situation with his team. There is room for Fabio in the selection, but there is still a long way to go to the World championships. That is why I also want to know what his plans are with Qhubeka ASSOS. I cannot decide on that alone. We still have almost the whole month to make a decision about it.”
Aru the ‘crossman:
BORA-hansgrohe to Add Red Bull as a Partner
BORA-hansgrohe has found a new sponsor in Red Bull, team manager Ralph Denk confirmed. It is not yet known exactly how the collaboration will be organised. As an energy drink, Red Bull is well-known in the sports world, including football and Formula 1. But Red Bull is also active in winter sports. The Austrian brand is also the personal sponsor of BORA-hansgrohe rider Anton Palzer, who comes from Ski Mountaineering.
“Cycling is fairly new to Red Bull and we are going to see what may arise in the future,” Denk said during a team presentation. In any case, Palzer will ride with a helmet in the colours of Red Bull during his road races for BORA-hansgrohe.
The mountain biker and the ski mountaineer:
Former Rider Starts His Own Cycling Team
James Mitri has decided to set up his own cycling team at the age of 21. The ex-rider of Burgos-BH and Vini Zabù-KTM hopes as many talented riders as possible will pass through his Continental team, Global6 Cycling. Mitri says he will have more news soon.
The New Zealander, who will also race for the new team, has been setting up his own cycling team for a while. “The philosophy is to give young riders an equal chance. We also want to be the first New Zealand cycling team to complete a mainly European program.”
“We will be educating the stars of the future. I feel the support of some great people and sponsors,” said Mitri, who doesn’t just have an eye for young talents. This year, the team will have the experienced Francesco Manuel Bongiorno. Mitri and Bongiorno rode together last year at Vini Zabù-KTM.
The now 30-year-old Bongiorno previously rode for Bardiani-CSF, Sangemini-MG.Kvis, Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM and Vini Zabù-KTM. He showed great things in his debut years with placings in Tre Valli Varesine and the Giro dell’Emilia, but really never managed to breakthrough.
Francesco Manuel Bongiorno:
Giro d’Italia No Longer On RAI
For the past 23 years, the Giro d’Italia was shown by the Italian public broadcaster RAI, but that may now change. The free to air broadcasting rights for the race have expired, parties such as Discovery and Mediaset are already showing interest.
The broadcasting rights of the RAI have expired at the end of 2020. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, talks are already underway between organiser RCS Sport and Discovery. Should the rights end up with the American company, the Giro in Italy will probably be seen on Canal Nove from now on – as will races such as Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Lombardy.
Mediaset, which broadcast the Giro from 1993 to 1997, has also showed interest, but according to the sports newspaper, it is unlikely that the rights will go to the Italian company. The Discovery group already has the rights for cycling and already broadcasts the race on Eurosport’s pay channels.
No RAI at the Giro:
Cofidis to Have Women’s Team in 2022
Cofidis will have its own women’s team next year, the team announced during a presentation. “We are still missing something,” explains Cofidis chairman Thierry Vittu.
Other French teams such as Groupama-FDJ and Arkéa-Samsic already have a women’s team, but Cofidis decided not to invest in women’s cycling for a long time. Vittu now considers the time is ripe to set up their own women’s team. “The Cofidis company consists of more than five thousand people, the majority of whom are women. So something is still missing from us. It takes time to build a team, but in 2022 we will have a women’s team,” said Vittu, who also talks about the short term. The boss is aiming for a lot of wins this year with the current WorldTour team. “The goal is to finish around fifteenth place in the UCI ranking. We need about 5,000 points for that. We also hope to win a stage in the Tour de France this year.” The team will be counting on Elia Viviani, Guillaume Martin, Jesús Herrada and Christophe Laporte.
Cofidis to have a women’s team in 2022:
Team DSM and Jumbo-Visma Rent Hotels for Training Camp
Team DSM and Jumbo-Visma are going to Spain for training camps this month and both WorldTour teams have rented complete hotel for this. All staff members of the hotels concerned are to be sent home as a precaution. “So Tom Dumoulin and Primož Roglič will have to keep their room tidy themselves.” spokesman Ard Bierens of Jumbo-Visma told De Limburger.
Jumbo-Visma is going to Alicante with more than eighty people. This is 27 riders from the WorldTour team, twelve riders from the women’s team and twelve U23 riders. To keep the chance of a corona infection small, the riders and staff members do as much as possible themselves. “Cooking, serving, cleaning: all riders and staff members will have to do it themselves,” said Bierens.
In February, Jumbo-Visma wants to take a group to Tenerife, to train at altitude on Teide, this would be after the lockdown in the Canary Island is lifted.
Team DSM plans to move into its ‘own’ hotel in Calpe. “We are creating three big bubbles: the men’s team, the women’s team and the young team. Those three groups remain strictly separated. And we divide those three bubbles into small bubbles of four when they hit the road for training,”says sports director Matt Winston.
A lot had to be arranged in the run-up to the training camp. “To get to Spain at all, all riders must have two negative PCR tests in their pocket. Officially it only needs to be one, but we follow the guidelines of the UCI on this,” said Winston.
Santic Presents the New Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux Kit for 2021
The equipment from the riders of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux, produced by the Chinese brand Santic, will continue to stand out in the peloton thanks to the combination of blue, white and neon yellow. Baptiste Planckaert, Kévin Van Melsen and Loïc Vliegen present the design of the jersey which was made more sleek by using straight lines, but preserved the traditional colours. The most prominent place on the jersey is reserved for new title sponsor Intermarché, just like the sides. 2020 title sponsor Circus keeps its traditional place on the back of the bib shorts, whereas the logo of Tormans is now visible on the sleeves in its typical orange colour. Santic Cycling equips Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux with clothing since 2018.
Except for the addition of Intermarché on the bib shorts, the bottom of the kit remains the same with Bière des Amis 0,0% on the left leg and Wanty and Gobert on the right leg. The Technord industrial group, integrator, specialised in industrial electricity and artificial intelligence makes its appearance on the back of the jersey, just like Digital Interim.
The breast of the jersey reveals the new technical partners of the World Team. Next to traditional partners Cube Bikes and Santic Cycling, the riders will be equipped with DMT cycling and leisure shoes and Force helmets. With the UCI World Team logo placed just above the heart of the riders, the team is motivated to start a new chapter in its history.
Fred Hou (Santic): “As one of the best cycling teams in Europe, INTERMARCHÉ WANTY GOBERT is always keeping a good relationship with us. We are so proud that the team becomes a World Team and are also honoured that we can grow with them and make a progress together. Santic, one of the best cycling equipment brands in Asia, deepens the partnership with the team, which means a lot to us. We are convinced that our brand awareness will be further enhanced as the team competes in the world’s highest races.”
Stijn Dossche (Stycle Design): “In 2021, a jersey designed by Stycle Design will be visible in the World Tour peloton for the first time and it makes me proud. The starting point for the new design was the combination of the traditional blue and neon yellow colours of the team. It was a nice challenge to turn the flashy yellow into a beautiful accent, and in the meantime making sure it was not overwhelming. The homogeneous colours of several partner logos, like Intermarché, Wanty and Circus, coincide perfectly, forming a nice alchemy. Together with Santic Cycling, the new jersey was chosen from a selection of four different designs, for which I especially focused on separating the patterns and colours from the sponsor logos in order to create a more peaceful design.”
Loïc Vliegen: “The design of the new kit for 2021 is a success. With only Intermarché added to the bib shorts, the jersey underwent a transformation. The new design looks clean and nice. The designer managed to give all our loyal sponsors a nice visibility on the Santic kits. It’s great to work on a long term with technical partners, who listen to our needs and grow with the team. On the technical side, the clothing keeps evolving year after year, thanks to the continuous development of Santic’s clothing range.”
Five and a Half Years Prison for Dr. Schmidt
Operation Aderlass: A five and a half year prison sentence was demanded against the German doctor Mark Schmidt. The judiciary also believes that Schmidt should be banned from work for five years. The Munich court is expected to rule in the doping case on Friday, January 15.
Schmidt, who previously was a team doctor for Gerolsteiner, among others, is seen as the pivot in the doping case, Operation Aderlass. The case came to light in early 2019 through a statement by cross-country skier, Johannes Dürr, and a raid in Schmidt’s hometown, Erfurt. Since then the doctor has been in custody. Four accomplices are also on trial. Two and a half years in prison has been demanded against one of them. The three others, including Schmidt’s father, heard demanding suspended sentences.
The justice has asked for such severe sentences because it concerns the largest doping case in Germany ever. Schmidt mainly used doping on cross-country skiers and professional cyclists, including Georg Preidler and Alessandro Petacchi. More than a hundred criminally relevant cases were established by the judicial authorities. Schmidt is also said to have been guilty of physical injury by administering an as yet untested drug to a mountain biker.
Contract for Suspended Pirazzi?
Stefano Pirazzi is still out for a four-year suspension after a positive doping test. But it sounds like he might be returning to the peloton in the spring. When his suspension ends in May, the Italian rider is said to be racing for the Continental team Amore e Vita.
Pirazzi was banned for four years in 2017 after testing positive for the use of growth hormones prior to the Giro d’Italia. As a result, he will be on the sidelines until Monday 3 May. TuttoBici reports that the now 33-year-old rider may return to the peloton at Amore e Vita. The team is known for its fierce policy against doping, but on the other hand, it often gives dopers a new chance.
Team manager Ivano Fanini is hopeful for the arrival of Pirazzi, who won the mountain jersey in the 2013 Giro d’Italia. “He knows he may have his only chance to return with us, as we are strongly against doping. The riders who have faced this problem for whatever reason are fundamental to us in continuing our fight for healthy cycling.”
Pirazzi started his professional career in 2010 with Colnago-CSF Inox, the team that later became Bardiani-CSF. In addition to the mountains classification in the Giro in 2013, he also won a stage in the Italian tour a year later. On the stage to Vittorio Veneto he was part of a large leading group. In the finalé he jumped away from his fellow escapees and managed to hold on to the finish line.
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