The 2020 season is getting closer to being a reality, but will Froome be with Porte and the Israel Start-Up Nation – Top Story. Thomas doesn’t want him to go. Race results from the Battle of the Balenberg. Other cycling news: Pogačar on the Slovenian champs, every Belgian wants to ride the first race, Terpstra recovery, Bernal on the Tour, Lotto Soudal Grand Tour riders, two French after-Tour criteriums, Tour de l’Ain and Tour of Burgos teams, German nat champs, more fans in Belgium and Holland, Polish team in Poland, Tour of Wallonia riders, news from Viviani, Gilbert, Barguil, Fraile, Kwiatkowski, Mollema and Siutsou suspended. Contracts for Dewulf and Shackley and new Vuelta sponsor. Coffee time.
TOP STORY: Richie Porte to join Froome at Israel Start-Up Nation
Sylvan Adams, the Israel Start-Up Nation team owner, continues to be ambitious. It seems he made a proposal to the Australian Richie Porte to accompany Chris Froome. Although this seems to be for 2021.
Richie Porte is 35. That is the same age as Chris Froome. The two know each other very well: from 2012 to 2015 they raced together at Team Sky. The Australian assisted Froome in the two Tour victories that Froome achieved during that period. According to Het Nieuwsblad, a reunion of the two riders is coming.
In 2016 Porte moved to BMC and since last year he has been with Trek-Segafredo. Froome is said to be looking forward to a reunion. However, it seems less and less likely that Froome will make the switch to the Israeli team before this year’s Tour, which starts on August 29. He is expected to just finish his season at Ineos and then leave.
And apparently Dylan Teuns is also on the shopping list of Israel Start-Up Nation. Although the Limburger has a number of other offers, including one from his current team Bahrain-McLaren, in his pocket. It has also been reported that there was also interest in Greg Van Avermaet and Jasper Stuyven.
Porte and Froome back together:
Geraint Thomas: “It would be nice if Froome stays”
Geraint Thomas hopes Chris Froome will stay with Team Ineos, said the 2018 Tour winner in an interview with the BBC. Froome is associated with a possible move to Israel-Start Up Nation, but Thomas hopes he will stay with Ineos.
“We’ve been teammates since 2008, so it would be nice to continue that,” said Thomas. “We get along well and work well together. We can be honest with each other. Sometimes brutal,” he said. “But whatever it is, it’s up to him to decide. I am mainly concerned with going up the next hill as quickly as possible.”
If Froome decides to stay, Team Ineos has three contenders in the Tour with Froome, Thomas and last year’s winner Egan Bernal. Thomas is not concerned that there is a surplus of leaders. “For me, this is the same as always,” says Thomas. “I try to start in the best possible form. If one of the boys is better than me, then I do what I have to do to help. That will also be the other way around.”
Thomas emphasises that this situation is not new for his team. “I think everyone gets a fair chance. Everyone can have a bad day. That doesn’t mean their Tour is suddenly over. We have experienced this before. The first time with Wiggins and Froomey (in 2012). Could have been dealt with better, but after that we all always dealt with it professionally. I am confident that this year will be no different.”
Thomas has been here before:
Battle of the Balenberg 2020
Seventeen year-old Thibau Nys won the Battle of Balenberg on Sunday. Nys junior was better than World cyclo-cross champion Mathieu van der Poel in all three disciplines (a technical trial, sprinting the furthest through sand and a time trial of one and a half kilometres).
Golazo organised the very first Battle of Balenberg in utmost secrecy. Six top riders competed against each other in three different disciplines. Although there were only five men as Tim Merlier had a car problem on the way to Baal and missed the start. Wout van Aert also received an invitation, but he had a training camp in France this week. This left World champion and top favourite Mathieu van der Poel, Belgian champion Laurens Sweeck, Toon Aerts, Eli Iserbyt and junior world champion Thibau Nys. The latter is only 17, but it he had a significant advantage: course knowledge. Nys grew up on the Balenberg and knows where every tree root is. Moreover, the youngster was thoroughly motivated to measure himself against the absolute world top for the first time in his still early career. And Nys did that with gusto. He stood out head and shoulders in all disciplines. He eventually beat Van der Poel and the others, with a strong performance in the closing time trial. The World champion needed more than two-seconds over Thibau Nys on the kilometre and a half of the GP Sven Nys circuit. The Balenberg remains the property of the Nys family until further notice.
Battle of Balenberg Final Overall Result:
1. Thibau Nys (Bel) – 24 points
2. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) – 18 points
3. Laurens Sweeck – (Bel) 16 points
4. Toon Aerts – (Bel) 13 points
5. Eli Iserbyt – (Bel) 9 points
1. Thibau Nys in 1:32.16 (6p)
2. Laurens Sweeck in 1:33.62 (5p)
3. Mathieu van der Poel in 1’35.28 (4p)
4. Eli Iserbyt in 1:39.41 (3p)
5. Toon Aerts in 1:40.13 (2p)
Sand Test (two attempts, best counts)
1. Thibau Nys – 26.67m and 28.96m (6p)
2. Toon Aerts – 25,66m and 26,46m (5p)
3. Mathieu van der Poel – 24.55m and 26.35m (4p)
4. Laurens Sweeck – 25.54m and 24.45m (3p)
5. Eli Iserbyt – 25.16m and 23.20m (2p)
1. Thibau Nys in 4:07.62 (12p)
2. Mathieu van der Poel in 4:09.96 (10p)
3. Laurens Sweeck in 4:10.93(8p)
4. Toon Aerts in 4:12.83 (6p)
5. Eli Iserbyt in 4:23.91 (4p).
Battle of the Balenberg 2020:
Second Placed Pogačar on the Slovenian Championships
Tadej Pogačar was on the podium at the end of the Slovenian road championship, but the title went to his older friend Primož Roglič. “It was a great fight with Primož. Moreover, the atmosphere was fantastic,” Pogačar said on Instagram.
A duel between Pogačar and Roglič was eagerly awaited in advance and both riders did not disappoint last Sunday. Roglič attacked four kilometres from the finish, but the rider of Jumbo-Visma was soon joined by the young Pogačar.
The two top riders were evenly matched and eventually made it to the last uphill kilometre. Roglič rode away from his younger compatriot to win. Pogačar crossed the line second, Matej Mohorič was third on the final podium.
“It was a great race and I have to congratulate Primož. It was a fantastic battle and the strongest rider always wins after such a finish. I am happy with the second place and I really have to thank my UAE Team Emirates team for the support. I can’t wait to race in Europe again soon.”
Champs for Roglič:
Big Rush for first Belgian Professional Race in Rotselaar
All Belgian UCI teams will start the first Belgian professional race after the corona crisis break next Sunday. The WorldTour, Pro and continental teams, including the cyclo-cross riders, descend to Rotselaar, about 90 pros. In total 400 riders have registered, while only 175 may start.
Every Belgian men’s team with a UCI license will be at the start of the pro race in Rotselaar on Sunday 5 July. We know that Deceuninck – Quick-Step, Lotto Soudal and Alpecin-Fenix will start, thanks to their connections with Marc Verbeeck, CEO at the organising Vermarc Sport.
Circus-Wanty Gobert, Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles, Tarteletto-Isorex and the cross teams Telenet-Baloise and Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal also confirmed their participation. All teams are allowed to send selection of eight riders. Apart from that, a number of pros from non-Belgian teams have already signed up, including Victor Campenaerts.
In total, no fewer than 400 riders have put themselves forward, while a maximum of 175 participants may actually appear on the start line. “So much too much, but we now give priority to the teams that also wear our Vermarc Sport clothing,” Marc Verbeeck told Het Nieuwsblad. There is also a chance that the race will be broadcast live on VTM and Eddy Merckx will fire the staring gun.
All the Belgian teams want to race on the 5th of July:
Niki Terpstra Fast Recovery
Niki Terpstra responded for the first time after his bad crash a week ago. Via Twitter, he thanked everyone for the many statements of support and indicated that the first steps in his recovery have been successful.
The 36-year-old rider of the Total Direct Energie team had a collision with a boulder last week during training. This was more bad luck for the unfortunate Dutchman, who suffered a concussion, a broken collarbone, broken ribs and a collapsed lung after the crash. He was allowed to leave the hospital soon after. On Tuesday Terpstra spoke for the first time via a message on his social media.
“It’s been a week since my training accident,” his post begins. “Thanks to adequate on-site assistance and good care at the VU hospital, the first steps in the recovery went well. This allowed me to return home on Sunday to recover further in my home environment. The statements of support I have received are overwhelming. Thank you all for the support! This will be a great motivation during rehabilitation.” His team previously reported that Terpstra’s rehabilitation would be around three months.
Bad crash for Niki Terpstra:
Egan Bernal on winning the Tour: “It’s like a drug”
Egan Bernal won his first Tour de France last year and hopes to successfully defend his title this season. “And the ultimate goal is to set a record. Nothing beats winning the Tour. It’s like a drug,” he said to France TV.
Bernal will probably have to share the leadership with Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome in the 2020 Tour de France, although sports director Servais Knaven does not yet know whether Team Ineos will start with three leaders. Bernal has a clear goal and that is to win the Tour. “Once you taste it, you want more.”
“You never have enough”, the Colombian continues. “Everything revolves around the next Tour win. I hope to be ready for the game and make the show soon. I will give the best of myself,” said Bernal, who will participate in La Route d’Occitanie, the Tour de l’Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné in the run-up to the Tour.
Bernal already rode the Colombian national championships (a silver and bronze medal) and the Tour Colombia 2.1 in his own country this season. In that last stage race he finished fourth in overall.
Tour win No.2 for Bernal?
Lotto Soudal 2020 Tour de France Selection
Lotto Soudal has selected eight riders for the Tour de France. Sprinter Caleb Ewan is back after a very successful 2019 Tour. Philippe Gilbert, Tim Wellens and John Degenkolb are also part of the selection.
Ewan was the most successful sprinter in the Tour de France last year with three stage victories, including a prestigious victory on the Champs-Élysées. “There are fewer sprint opportunities this year, but the sprinters will still be presented with a few nice stages,” said team manager John Lelangue at a press conference.
The Australian can count on Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge during the hectic sprint finals. “We have confidence in Caleb as he is one of the fastest sprinters. We also have John Degenkolb, so we have two cards as a team to play with. We have made clear agreements within the team.”
Ewan hopes to take Tour success again this year, but does Lotto Soudal’s camp also think of the green jersey? “We mainly aim for stage wins in the Tour. The green jersey is certainly not an obsession for Caleb. The most important thing is to take stage victories. Fighting for a jersey? Everything can be over in one day, but if the situation arises…”
The team not only focuses on possible sprint success with Ewan and Degenkolb, but has also selected three potential stage winners with Gilbert, Wellens and Thomas De Gendt. The selection is complemented by Steff Cras, who will make his debut in the Tour de France.
Lelangue on Cras: “He has a big engine and can help Ewan as much as possible on the flat stages and mountains. Stef has shown, however, that he is also an excellent climber. This means that he can be of value to riders like Gilbert, Wellens and De Gendt in the difficult stages.” Tomasz Marczyński and Frederik Frison are the reserves.
Lotto Soudal team for the Tour de France (August 29-September 20):
Jasper De Buyst (Bel)
Steff Cras (Bel)
John Degenkolb (Ger)
Caleb Ewan (Aus)
Thomas De Gendt (Bel)
Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
Roger Kluge (Ger)
Tim Wellens (Bel)
Frederik Frison (Bel)
Tomasz Marczyński (Pol).
Stage wins for Caleb:
Lotto Soudal Riders for the Giro and Vuelta
The Belgian team is already looking at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España with Caleb Ewan going for more stage victories in the Giro.
Just like in the Tour, the Australian gets support from Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge. Lotto Soudal hopes to achieve stage successes, but with Carl Frederik Hagen also has a possible chance in the overall. The 28-year-old Norwegian, who is preparing for his first Giro, finished 8th last year in the Vuelta.
Two more riders make their Giro debut with Kobe Goossens (24) and Matthew Holmes (26). It is the first time for both riders in a three-week stage race. Holmes was able to surprise earlier this season by winning the queen stage of the Tour Down Under, finishing on Willunga Hill.
Lotto Soudal will have to select two more riders for the Giro. The WorldTour team also has five names for the Tour of Spain. Attacker Thomas De Gendt will make his appearance in the Vuelta after the Tour. He will be joined by Sander Armée, Tosh Van der Sande, Tomasz Marczyński and Harm Vanhoucke.
Lotto Soudal team for the Giro d’Italia (October 3-25):
Jasper De Buyst (Bel)
Caleb Ewan (Aus)
Frederik Hagen (Nor)
Kobe Goossens (Bel)
Matthew Holmes (GB)
Roger Kluge (Ger).
Lotto Soudal team for the Vuelta a España (October 20-November 8):
Sander Armée (Bel)
Thomas De Gendt (Bel)
Tomasz Marczyński (Pol)
Tosh Van der Sande (Bel)
Harm Vanhoucke (Bel).
Carl Frederik Hagen:
Maybe Only Two French After-Tour Criteriums
There will be hardly any After-Tour criterium ridden this year. None in Belgium and none in the Netherlands, but also not in France, where normally there is an abundance of events. Only two are on the menu this year.
There are many circumstances: The calendar, which has been rearranged by Covid-19, barely leaves room for the top riders to take in these races. In addition, there is fear among the organiSers. “There is a chance that we have to organise without an audience,” says the organiser of La Ronde d’Aix, a renowned criterium in Provence. “Then it is not good for us.” Still on the agenda: Critostar de Choisy-le-Roi, south of Paris and the new Grand Dole criterium in Dijon. “Fortunately, we have the guarantee of many big names from the Tour,” they. “That’s how we keep our sponsors.”
Also in Belgium (Aals, Roeselare, Herentals, Kortrijk, Wilrijk, Nacht van Brasschaat, Oostrozebeke…) and the Netherlands (Boxmeer) there will be no yellow, green or white with red spots jerseys this year. Boxmeer was the only Dutch After-Tour criterium that was still on the calendar. The rest were canceled quite early after the start of the corona crisis.
No chance to meet the stars after the Tour:
Twelve WorldTour Teams to Ride the 2020 Tour de l’Ain
The Tour de l’Ain organisers have announced that twelve WorldTour teams will be at the start in August. That is nine more compared to last season, when only three top-level teams participated.
Groupama-FDJ, AG2R-La Mondiale and Katusha-Alpecin were present last year in the French stage race, in May. Cofidis was also present, but was still ProContinental team. This year, the interest in participating in the Tour de l’Ain is extra high, because it is one of the few races in France that can be ridden in preparation for the Tour de France. The three-day is scheduled for August 7-9.
On Tuesday, the organisers will announce which teams will be on the start line, but Jumbo-Visma (Tom Dumoulin, Primoz Roglic, Steven Kruijswijk), Team Ineos (Egan Bernal), Trek-Segafredo (Bauke Mollema, Richie Porte) AG2R-La Mondiale (Benoît Cosnefroy), Cofidis (Guillaume Martin, Jesús Herrada) will participate. It seems to be the first showdown for the Tour.
The Tour de l’Ain start list is completed by six ProTeams including Arkéa-Samsic with Nairo Quintana and Circus-Wanty Gobert, four continental teams and two national selections with U23 riders.
Tour de l’Ain 2020 – Schedule (August 7-9)
Stage 1: Montreal-la-Cluse – Ceyzeriat (139.5 km)
Stage 2: Lagnieu – Lélex Monts Jura (140 km)
Stage 3: Saint-Vulbas – Grand Colombier (143 km)
The final 110 kilometres of stage 3 is identical to that of the 15th stage of the Tour de France to the Grand Colombier.
Stage 3 of the Tour de l’Ain:
Tour of Burgos Starts with 22 Teams
The Tour of Burgos (UCI 2.Pro) has decided to increase the number of participating teams to 22. Initially, the organisation wanted to invite eighteen teams, but the massive interest changed all that, reports AS.
Between 35 and 40 teams wanted to ride the Vuelta a Burgos, one of the first stage races on the modified UCI calendar from July 28 to August 1. When choosing the teams, the race organisation followed three steps. “The first criterion is to select all Spanish teams, then the teams that are loyal to our race and then the WorldTour teams,” said organiser Marcos Moral to Mundo Deportivo. He can invite up to fourteen WorldTour teams, but has reportedly turned down fifteen: Astana, Bahrain McLaren, Bora-Hansgrohe, Cofidis, Team Ineos, Israel Start-Up Nation, Jumbo-Visma, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar, Team NTT, Trek-Segafredo, UAE Emirates and Deceuninck – Quick-Step.
“The great interest is also evident from the fifteen TV channels that want to broadcast the Tour of Burgos. Everyone will be watching us. Some enthusiastic, some with critical eyes. We have a huge responsibility,” said Moral, who also thanks Vuelta organiser Unipublic and TV channel TVE for their help with the preparations. “It’s nice that others support us, but I need more than just a pat on the back.” The Spanish tour will announce the course and the participating teams at a later date.
Nozzolo won Burgos 2019 stage 1:
German National Championship on August 23 at the Sachsenring
The German road championships will take place on August 23 at the Sachsenring. Provided that the measures to combat the coronavirus allow. The German federation BDR has confirmed.
The UCI kept the date of August 23 to organise the national championships, one week before the start of the Tour de France. In Germany, the national championship would have taken place in Stuttgart, but the organisers announced in April that they cancelled because they thought that security in the region could not be guaranteed. Stuttgart will now organise the German championships in 2021.
The new location, the Sachzenring, is a circuit in Hohenstein-Ernstthal in the German state of Saxony where mainly international car and motorcycle races take place. An ideal site for sport events in and after corona times. The ladies will race 110 kilometres, the men about 150 with 2,000 metres climbing.
According to the German federation, it will be a “corona proof” championships. Only official cars approved by the BDR are allowed on the race and social distancing is taken into account in all areas outside the race. With current measures in Germany, it is likely that no spectators will be admitted. The authorities gave the green light, but it is clear, and factored in, that in the event of an outbreak of Covid-19 in the region, the event can also be canceled – just like that.
2019 German champion – Maximilian Schachmann:
Belgium Expands Spectator Numbers for Events
In Belgium, the Security Council announced that it will allow more spectators to attend events, including cycle races. It was previously decided that events with 200 people could take place from July 1, but this is now being expanded. Outdoor events can take place from July 1 with more than 400 spectators. From August 1, this can be extended to 800 people. A checklist will be used for events (a “matrix”), which must be met first.
In special cases, events with more than 800 people can be held. “When the situation allows to receive more people with respect for the distance rules, those organisers will be able to turn to the government to defend their file,” Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon told VRT.
The message means good news for the Belgian cycling world. Although with Dwars door Hageland the first UCI race is only planned for August 15, there are already some initiatives to organise earlier events. Next Wednesday, the first juniors and newcomers’ competition is scheduled in the West Flemish area of Dikkebus. The first Belgian professional race after the corona crisis will be organised in Rotselaar on 5 July.
More fans in Belgium:
Good News for Dutch Cycling Races
From July 1, it is again allowed to organise events. Prime Minister Rutte announced this during a press conference on Wednesday. From then on, there will no longer be an upper limit for the number of people who gather indoors or outdoors. For the public, however, the rule that a distance of one and a half meters must be kept remains in force. There will be an exception for athletes.
Whether an event may actually take place is up to the municipalities. They arrange implementation and licensing. In practice, major events will not take place until the second half of August, Rutte expects.
The report is good news for the Dutch cycling world, although no UCI races are planned for the time being. The Boels Ladies Tour is on the program at the beginning of September. The BinckBank Tour will visit the Netherlands at the end of September, while the Amstel Gold Race is scheduled for October 10.
Good news for Dutch fans:
The White and Red are Joining the Tour de Pologne
The third wild card attending the 77th Tour de Pologne has been awarded to the Polish National Team according to tradition. The national team will now join Gazprom-RusVelo and Team Novo Nordisk.
“I really want the white and red shirts to be at the Tour de Pologne every year, but this is not obvious. Each time we have to apply for a special consent from the UCI” – emphasises Czeslaw Lang.
The request has been approved and the team will line up at the Tour de Pologne for the 13th time in a row. “I was very enthusiastic about the organisers granting a wild card to the Polish National Team. This is a great opportunity to show their sporting qualities to the cycling followers around the world. Thanks to the start in the 77th Tour de Pologne, the Polish National team riders will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level and promote the white and red colours. We are looking forward to coming back to rivalry united with all the other riders at this difficult time” said Krzysztof Golwiej, President of the Polish Cycling Association.
The chance to present yourself to a wider audience is unique. The Tour de Pologne will be the first stage-race in the UCI World Tour series to start exactly 144 days after Paris – Nice, which was the last regular competition to take place before the pandemic.
“We realise now that escaping can be like winning a stage. Many teams will want to show up. Eyes from around the world will be directed to Poland – says Marek Lesniewski, Head of training at Polish Cycling Association and the TdP winner in 1985. – This is why we take the matter very seriously. The coach of the team Piotr Wadecki has already prepared a wide squad but during the Tour de Pologne he will be involved in the start of the CCC team and we have to make the selection together. We would like to select seven riders plus three substitutes as soon as possible to give all of them some time for optimal preparation. The start in the national Tour is mandatory. This is a great honour, but also a huge responsibility,” adds Lesniewski.
“It will be a difficult selection. There is virtually no test before the Tour de Pologne except the Dookola Mazowsza race, but this is a completely different race. We have some good proven names in the domestic peloton. Maciej Paterski or Pawel Bernas are surely a guarantee for a solid fight and they’ll almost likely be part of the squad,” comments Piotr Wadecki, the coach of the national team. “By the way, I’m really looking forward to the Tour de Pologne. There are so many questions so the race will be exciting.”
“The 77th Tour de Pologne will start on August 5th and will develop over five stages. – All the big Tours and most of the spring classics had to fit in three months, for this reason we gave up two stages, but the route will still be interesting – including moments for sprinters, beautiful stages for Classics’ specialists and of course the Polish mountains will not be missing. The route is ready and will be made official at the beginning of July,” says Tour de Pologne director Czeslaw Lang.
Lotto Soudal to Tour of Wallonia
Lotto Soudal starts with three leaders; Philippe Gilbert, John Degenkolb and Caleb Ewan in the VOO Tour of Wallonia (August 16-19), according to race director Christophe Brandt.
Brandt will also have Sam Bennett on the start line in mid-August. The Irish sprinter from the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team plans to go to Wallonia for the four-day stage race. Classics specialists Oliver Naesen and Greg Van Avermaet will also be announced shortly.
In the VOO Tour of Wallonia, Brandt sees a good preparation race for the Tour de France, which is on the calendar at the end of August. “With the Tour de l’Ain and the Criterium du Dauphiné there are enough competitions for the pure climbers, but there is not much for the non-climbers,” he said.
“These riders are probably better prepared for the Walloon roads. That is why I hope for some more sprinters and attackers,” he concludes. Brandt – who raced for the Lotto team for years – secretly also hopes for Remco Evenepoel. “He could prepare well for the European Championship the following week in our event.”
Gilbert happy to race again:
Viviani Training in Livigno for Milan-San Remo
Elia Viviani hopes to prepare as well as possible for Milan-San Remo in the Italian Alps. The Cofidis sprinter spent a month near Livigno ski village, at an altitude of 2,200 meters. “I know it works,” Viviani told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Viviani is again fully training towards the restart of the season. The past few days he trained with his Cofidis teammates in the south of France, along the Côte d’Azur. “It felt good to be back together. We trained specifically on the sprint, hoping to perfect the sprint train.”
“I also explored the Milan-San Remo course,” says Viviani. “It will be a really crazy race, since we have only a few race days in the legs. I will only take action for a few race days for Milan-San Remo. We are going to have a spectacular match, also because it will be very hot.”
Viviani is already in the Italian Alps for the final preparations for the Italian classic. The European champion has opted for an altitude training camp of almost a month. “After two weeks, I am joined by several teammates. I will return to sea level ten days before my start of the season.”
“The plan is to train behind the moto, but I will also add some track training.” Viviani starts his season in La Route d’Occitanie (August 1-4), where the Italian can gain confidence for Milan-San Remo. This classic is scheduled for August 8.
Philippe Gilbert Training for Milan-San Remo
“If I can believe what I read, my season will stand or fall with Milan-San Remo. The season doesn’t stop there. I do have more goals. And whether I win in San Remo or not, life goes on. I’ll survive that,” said Philippe Gilbert in a video conference on Tuesday.
Gilbert has been talking about Milan-Sanremo for months. After all, the Belgian can win his fifth Monument on August 8 and join Van Looy – Merckx – De Vlaeminck. It would complete his career. But that the Primavera falls so early on the redesigned calendar, the former world champion sees this a s a problem.
“Milan-San Remo will only become my third race after a long break. I will need more time and race rhythm to be top.” Of course, that also applies to the rest of the peloton. Gilbert confirms: “Yes, it is the same for everyone. But those young guys are still favoured. Their engine gets up to speed faster. And you should not forget that we have not raced in a peloton since Paris-Nice. I only have Strade Bianche and Milan-Turin to fine-tune the condition. Fair? I don’t think there are many opportunities in Milan-San Remo this year.”
Philippe Gilbert belongs to the “Tour Bubble” at Lotto Soudal, which has been the case for weeks. That specific bubble, which in principle consists not only of the same riders, but also of the same staff, finishes a training camp in the Vosges and then races the Tour of Poland and the Tour of Wallonia in the run-up to the Tour de France. But exceptions are made for Gilbert as he rides the three Italian one-day races, but not the Tour of Poland. Ewan, for example, gets one exception: Milan-San Remo. John Degenkolb and Tim Wellens don’t get any.
Gilbert also talked about making choices. The Tour of Lombardy, which he already won in 2009 and 2010. “It has been too heavy for me in recent years. When I did participate, it was for another leader, such as Alaphilippe. I don’t have much to look for myself.” In the Classic period, Gilbert prefers the Amstel Gold Race (Saturday 10 October) over Gent-Wevelgem (Sunday 11 October). “If I don’t manage to make history in Milan-San Remo, it might be possible in the Amstel Gold Race. I can win a fifth time (to match Jan Raas). That would also be historical.”
2020 season part 2 for Gilbert:
Warren Barguil to Debut in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix
Warren Barguil will ride in two new Classics this year. The current champion of France has announced that he will start in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix. However, his main goals, the Tour de France and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, remain unchanged.
The co-leader of Arkéa-Samsic previously announced that he would ride the Route d’Occitanie (August 1-4) and the Critérium du Dauphiné (August 12-16) in the run-up to the Tour de France. In the coming period, Barguil has added several altitude training camps.
“I’m going to the Alps with part of the Arkéa-Samsic team from Thursday to July 2. There we recon stages 15, 16, 17 and 18 of the Tour de France,” he explained. “I can’t wait to see my friends and staff again. Then from 14-28 July I leave for a training camp to Isola 2000, where I can look at the first stages of the Tour. I will also be sleeping in an altitude tent for another ten days at home.”
Barguil told Le Télégramme what races are on his program: Milan-San Remo (August 8) and Paris-Roubaix (October 25) are two of them. In addition, he will ride the hilly classics Flèche Walloon (September 30), Liège-Bastogne-Liège (October 4) and the Amstel Gold Race (October 10).
Busy time for the French champion:
Fraile Will Support López in Tour
Omar Fraile will once again make an appearance in the Tour de France this year. The Basque Astana rider said in an interview with Biciciclismo that he will ride almost the same program as his leader Miguel Ángel López, although Fraile will not completely abandon his own ambitions.
Fraile is of the opinion that one does not exclude the other. “I can help the team and logically the team will one day give me the freedom to join an escape. The main thing is to assist Miguel for as long as possible. At the same time, I think I can try to win a stage one day.”
He already knows broadly what his program will be, as it largely corresponds with that of leader López. “I ride the Route d’Occitanie (August 1-4) in France, then the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge (August 6), the Criterium du Dauphiné (August 12-16) and the Tour de France (August 29 to September 20),” he explained. First he will be with some teammates from 9 to 24 July on a high altitude camp in the Sierra Nevada. “I’m looking forward to it,” said Fraile. “We will be there in principle with the Spanish group and the Kazakhs who live in Benidorm.”
Fraile is pleased that the period without races will come to an end soon. “It took a long time, but I can’t complain. If there is anything positive to get out of this, it is that I have never been home for so long. That’s one of the good things. I was able to spend time with my girlfriend and relax. That was one of the best things about the lockdown.”
Omar Fraile on the attack:
Siutsou Suspended for 4 Years
Kanstantsin Siutsou has been suspended for four years by the UCI after failing an out-of-competition test in 2018. The Belarusian was found to have used EPO.
The check took place on July 31, 2018, when Siutsou raced for Bahrain-Merida. The UCI informed the team a few months later that there were abnormal values, a so-called AAF. “This behaviour will not be accepted and further steps will be taken against the rider,” said manager Brent Copeland at the time.
Almost two years after the failed test, the UCI has decided to suspend the now 37-year-old Siutsou for four years. In the past, the rider raced for big teams such as Fassa Bortolo, HTC-Columbia, Team Sky, Dimension Data and Bahrain-Merida. Siutsou was U23 world champion in Verona 2004.
As a pro, he never managed to take many victories, but he did win a stage in the Giro d’Italia in 2009 and was the best in the Tour of Georgia twelve years ago. He twice finished in the top 10 on GC in the Tour of Italy and won the Tour of Croatia just before his positive test.
Four years for Kanstantsin Siutsou:
Kwiatkowski expects to extend contract with Team Ineos
Michal Kwiatkowski is likely to extend his contract with Team Ineos, the Polish rider told Rowery. “My manager is about that. I can only do my best. I want to stay and I also believe that I will stay.”
“At Team Ineos, they appreciate the work I’ve done. The fact that we as riders are not racing at the moment is a secondary matter for this team,” said Kwiatkowski, who has been with the British team since 2016. “The most important thing for me is that people trust in me and believe in me to the end.”
Kwiatkowski’s season will start in Italy with Strade Bianche, Milan-Turin and Milan-San Remo. Then he goes to the Critérium du Dauphiné, in preparation for the Tour de France. Kwiatkowski has been part of the Tour winning team for the past three years and doubts whether he will ride the Polish championship a week before the Grand Départ in Nice.
“There are two weeks between the end of the Dauphiné and the start of the Tour. We should probably be there the Wednesday before the start. In addition, we will explore a few Tour stages after the Dauphiné. So that period in between will be very short and I don’t think I can put the championship in there anymore,” he explained.
After the Tour de France, Kwiatkowski has many classics on his program, starting with the World Championships in Switzerland a week after Paris. He will also be riding Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Amstel Gold Race. If the Dutch classic is canceled, the Pole will ride Gent-Wevelgem that weekend. This is followed by the Scheldeprijs, the Tour of Flanders, the Three Days Bruges-De Panne and Paris-Roubaix.
“If I don’t race the Vuelta a España, this is all,” he looks ahead. “I really like the Tour of Flanders. Paris-Roubaix is a new cool experience. It will probably be the last race of the season, so there is nothing to lose.”
Michal Kwiatkowski in the 2019 Tour:
Bauke Mollema Yet to Decide on Tour of Lombardy
Will Bauke Mollema start the Tour of Lombardy on August 15? The Trek-Segafredo rider would like to defend his title, but he still has to see if it fits in his program. The 33-year-old climber was the winner of the Classic last year after a successful solo. This year, the Tour of Lombardy is scheduled for Saturday, August 15. Mollema indicates that he will participate in the Tour de l’Ain (7-9 August) one week before the Italian one-day race.
“I already know my program by and large, but it is not yet final. In the first place, the competitions must go on. I am also thinking about Lombardia,” said Mollema, who will focus on the Tour de France, the World championships and the Vuelta a España. In the Tour, he will have to share the lead with Richie Porte, winner of the Tour Down Under before the corona break. “I don’t mind at all starting with two leaders. I will also bond with love, if Richie turns out to be better. We are professionals and know what to do.”
Mollema is 33 years old, but the Dutchman is still ambitious. “I can still achieve a lot. I hope to win a championship again someday. It would be great to wear a champions jersey for a year. There are also some great classics to win and I have never won a stage in the Giro.”
Lombardy again for Mollema?
Dewulf to AG2R-La Mondiale
Young rider Stan Dewulf will move from Lotto Soudal to AG2R-La Mondiale at the end of December. Dewulf is seen as a talent for the cobbled classics. At AG2R he will assist leader Oliver Naesen.
The 22-year-old Belgian turned pro with Lotto Soudal last year, after he won the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix in 2018. He also showed some flashes as a neo-pro. In the first months of this year, Dewulf did not take action due to persistent knee problems. According to Het Nieuwsblad, he will move to AG2R-La Mondiale after this season.
With the French World Tour team, he will initially assist leader Oliver Naesen in the Classics. When his contract was renewed, Naesen was promised reinforcement and Stan Dewulf was at the top of the list of contenders. The fact that John Lelangue, CEO of his current team Lotto Soudal, will not renew contracts until August has undoubtedly not delayed the departure.
British top talent Anna Shackley joins the SD Worx Cycling Team
British 19-year-old Anna Shackley has signed a two-year contract with the SD Worx Cycling Team (currently competing under the name of Boels-Dolmans). From 2021, this talented young rider will be part of the best women’s cycling team in the world.
“I’m extremely proud of the fact that this top team would want to have me as a member. I had never expected to have the opportunity to transition to a WorldTour team at such a young age,” the Scottish rider says.
Team leader Danny Stam has close contacts with British Cycling and has followed Shackley’s performance for some time now. Test results have shown that she has the potential to develop into a top cyclist. “We have given her a two-year contract with an option to extend it by two more years. We firmly believe she has a unique driving force inside her. It will be a great challenge to help such a talented rider develop,” adds Sporting Director Danny Stam of the Boels-Dolmans team.
Last year, the then 18-year-old Shackley finished thirteenth in the Women’s Tour of Scotland. She also finished 12th at the Junior World Championships. In the spring – before the COVID-19 outbreak – she became British track cycling champion twice, once for the points race and once for the team pursuit.
An ambition to become a climbing specialist
Shackley appreciates the fact that the current Boels-Dolmans team, whose new main sponsor next year will be SD Worx, has been the best women’s cycling team in the world for five years. “It proves that this team is well managed. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been able to achieve such a ranking for so many years. I really wanted to reach WorldTour level. British Cycling has helped me to take that step, and I am grateful for that.”
Shackley is hoping to develop into a climbing specialist: “I don’t have much experience yet with properly high mountains, but I want to become a rider who excels in events like the Giro d’Italia. I’m hoping to achieve a good ranking in these multiple-stage races. I also hope to do well in hilly one-day races, such as Liège–Bastogne–Liège.”
The 19-year-old British cyclist is glad that current Olympic road champion Anna van der Breggen and former world champion Chantal Blaak will be the team leaders of the SD Worx team in the future. “I haven’t met them in person yet, but I’ve seen many women’s races on the television in recent years, so I know what they have achieved. I hope to learn much from their vast experience in the coming years.”
“It is important to invest in the careers of talented young riders, so we can continue to defend our title as the best women’s team in the world,” states SD Worx CEO Kobe Verdonck. “We are also delighted that Anna’s arrival has given our team even more of an international character. Our company has offices in 11 countries, including the UK. I’m sure our colleagues and customers there are very excited about this news and that Anna will now have many more supporters. We wish her every success and warmly welcome her to our team.”
Anna van der Breggen, Chantal Blaak, Jolien d’Hoore, Amy Pieters, Christine Majerus and Lonneke Uneken have already extended their contract with the team.
Viajabien: Sponsor and New La Vuelta Official Travel Agency
The Viajabien Group and Unipublic, organiser of La Vuelta, have reached a sponsorship agreement. Viajabien thus becomes the race’s new official travel agency, whose function focuses on the organisation and management of travel and accommodation for almost 1500 people, nearly a third of La Vuelta’s total caravan; an itinerant logistical giant that, every year, moves more than 3000 people over the course of three weeks.
The Viajabien Group signs on as an official sponsor of the Spanish Grand Tour and will manage the travel of the riders, cycling team members, the organisation and the sponsors, among other working groups that also travel with La Vuelta. “We’re very proud that a company such as Unipublic has chosen us to be the official travel agency for an event of La Vuelta’s magnitude. This project reinforces the value and commitment of the Viajabien Group as one of the industry leaders in the field of sporting events and travel. This contract is both a historical landmark and a turning point for the company’s growth”, explained Guillermo Espinós, Executive Director of the Viajabien Group.
The General Director of Unipublic, Javier Guillén, wished to emphasise the importance of this agreement at a “particularly delicate” time for the hotel, tourism and travel sector. “We’re aware of the complicated situation that this sector is currently facing, which is why we are pleased to have reached this agreement. We place our trust in the hands of a modern and innovative agency, and we do so in the knowledge that they will be able to handle this unusual situation we are living in with the utmost efficiency”, he added.
Following over a decade of a successful relationship and collaboration with Halcón Viajes (Globalia), La Vuelta renews one of the race’s pillars of organisation: its travel agency. “We wish to thank Halcón Viajes for all these years of hard work, commitment and services”, concluded Javier Guillén.
La Vuelta 20 will be a unique edition, as a result of the changes imposed on it due to the COVID-19 crisis. The 75th edition of the Spanish tour will consist of 18 stages and will be held from the 20th of October to the 8th of November.
# La Vuelta’s official travel agency handles the travel and accommodation of almost 1500 people, nearly a third of those moving with the race caravan each day.
# The Viajabien Group considers the signing of this contract a turning point for the company’s growth.
# In a complicated year for the tourism industry, La Vuelta closes one of the most important accounts for the organisation of the race: that of its official travel agency.
More information about La Vuelta: www.lavuelta.com
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