The World road championships in Flanders came to an amazing end with Julian Alaphilippe taking his second rainbow jersey. All the reports, results and video from Belgium and Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde. Worlds’25 to Rwanda – TOP STORY. Patrick Lefevere on the Worlds. Contract news from Vincenzo Nibali, Ion Izagirre, Mikkel Honoré, Milan Vader and Óscar Rodríguez. Rider news: Last race for André Greipel. Team news: BikeExchange to ride Giant. Race news: UCI Track Champions League postponement, Giro di Sicilia riders, Paris-Tours teams and route and Tro Bro Léon and ASO team up. Coffee with a Belgian chocolate?
TOP STORY: Rwanda Awarded the 2025 World Championships
Rwanda is the first African country ever to host the World cycling championships and will host then in 2025. This has been confirmed by the cycling association of the African country via social media. Morocco wanted the championships but has missed out.
In 2025, the World Cycling Championships will be held in Africa for the first time. Three years ago it was known that Rwanda and Morocco were the only candidates in the race. The Rwandan Cycling Federation submitted a bid in 2019 to bring the World championships to the capital Kigali. Due to the corona crisis, the decision for Rwanda or Morocco was postponed by a year to 2021. The UCI have now made the decision: Rwanda and Kigali can organise the World Cup in four years.
Problems with malaria and human rights in Rwanda have been brought up, but the UCI president, David Lappartient, doesn’t think the latter is a problem: “I see a government that unites people. Of course there are certain things going on there,” Lappartient refers to the regime of Paul Kagame, which is sometimes questionable. This week, for example, when the well-known Rwandan Paul Rusesabagine, who saved about 1,200 people in his ‘Hotel Rwanda’ in 1994 during the genocide, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for alleged terrorism.
“I don’t know if there is a perfect democracy anywhere in the world,” Lappartient defended. “I have always said that human rights are an important topic for us. I have been to Rwanda and met many Rwandans. What I saw there is a government that has gone through a very complicated crisis and is now able to unite people.”
“If you look at where Rwanda came from and where it is now, I think that can only be achieved with real leadership. Sometimes we don’t have to look at all the governments in the world through our European eyes. I sincerely believe that there is a lot of support for the authorities in Rwanda, for what they have done in the area of health, in the area of cohesion,” he concluded.
World Championships 2021 Men’s Road Race
An unbelievable day of racing was finished off by last year’s World champion, France’s Julian Alaphilippe to double up and take the rainbow jersey for the second year in a row. After 268.3 kilometres through a race-crazy Flanders, the Frenchman crossed the line solo in Leuven. Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands) was second and Michael Valgren (Denmark) third.
There was the usual early break: Patrick Gamper (Austria), Pavel Kochetkov (Russia), Rory Townsend (Ireland), Oskar Nisu (Estonia), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), José Tito Hernández (Colombia), Joel Levi Burbano (Ecuador) and Jambal Sainbayar (Mongolia). They had a maximum lead of 6 minutes. Belgium controlled the race and countered the early attacks. At 180 kilometres from the finish there was a first move by Benoît Cosnefroy, Magnus Cort and Remco Evenepoel. It was the start of an exciting and long final. Pascal Eenkhoorn, Tim Declercq, Primoz Roglic, Jan Tratnik, Arnaud Démare, Kasper Asgreen, Ben Swift, Brandon McNulty, Stefan Bissegger, Imanol Erviti, Nathan Haas and Markus Hoelgaard joined the Evenepoel group. In the peloton, Belgium paralysed the chase, but Italy and Poland took over. The gap was already 1 minute by then. The cooperation in the Evenepoel group was not great, so the Italians managed to make the connection with 133 kilometres to go. Not much later, the early escape was also taken caught. Mathieu van der Poel was behind the break in the peloton at the Wijnpers, but Bauke Mollema brought the Dutch leader back. The high pace – especially from the Belgians – caused a battle of and some chaos: Mikkel Honoré and John Degenkolb crashed after Davide Ballerini, Matteo Trentin and Mads Pedersen had already hit the deck earlier in the race.
Another attack attempt was initiated by Nils Politt and followed by Evenepoel, Tratnik, Dylan van Baarle, Andrea Bagioli, Valentin Madouas, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Iván García, Robert Stannard, Rasmus Tiller and Neilson Powless. The last time on Moskesstraat the race ignited: Van Baarle, Evenepoel, Madouas, Bagioli and Powless remained and behind them the favourites started to show themselves. On the Bekestraat, Julian Alaphilippe made an attack, creating an elite group that managed to join the leading group. In addition to the (ex) World champion, Madouas, Florian Sénéchal, Evenepoel, Jasper Stuyven, Wout van Aert, Matej Mohoric, Bagioli, Sonny Colbrelli, Giacomo Nizzolo, Tom Pidcock, Van Baarle, Van der Poel, Valgren, Markus Hoelgaard, Powless and Zdenek Stybar were present. A new attack by Alaphilippe and Colbrelli on the Smeysberg was countered by the Belgians. Up front, it was mainly Evenepoel and Bagioli who set the pace. Partly because of this, the chasing group didn’t get any closer; at the end of the last two laps of the Leuven Circuit, the difference was already almost 2 minutes.
At 26 kilometres from the finish, Evenepoel’s work was over. He had ridden himself completely to a standstill in the service of Van Aert of his leader. At the penultimate Wijnpers climb, Alaphilippe put in a big jump to which Van Aert was unable to react immediately. Yet the group came back together through the work of Stuyven. A very strong Alaphilippe put in another attack on the St. Antoniusberg, and immediately got a gap. Behind the Frenchman it was Powless, Stuyven, Van Baarle and Valgren who got together. They had ridden away from the group with Van Aert and Van der Poel, where Italy had taken the lead. At the penultimate passage of the finish, the difference was 12 seconds between Alaphilippe and the Stuyven group, while Van Aert and co were half a minute down. The chase did not get off to a good start, so the difference from 11 seconds grew to 30. There was no catching Alaphilippe, who started the last kilometre with the 30 seconds lead. ‘JuJu’ had plenty of time to celebrate his second World title in a row. The sprint for second place was surprisingly won by Van Baarle, taking the first World championships medal for Elite men for the Netherlands since 1997. Van Baarle was ahead of Valgren (bronze) and Stuyven out of the medals. In the final lap Tom Pidcock rode away from the elite group of Van Aert and Van der Poel. He crossed the finish line in 6th place. The sprint for eighth place was won by Mathieu van der Poel. Top favourite Wout van Aert was a disappointed eleventh.
*** You can see the full ‘PEZ Race Report and Photo Gallery’ HERE. ***
World champion, Julian Alaphilippe (France): “I have no words, I am just so happy! I worked hard for this and had good legs, but I didn’t dare to dream about retaining my title. It’s insane, that’s all that I can say. An amazing victory which wouldn’t have been possible without my incredible team, who protected me all day long and guided me excellently in the final part of the race. The plan was to counter in the final kilometres, but I sensed an opportunity and rode on instinct. As soon as a gap was there, I rode my heart out to remain at the front. The Belgian supporters told me to slow down, but that only motivated me to go harder. I left everything on the road, and while I was doing that, I kept thinking of my son, Nino. Winning the Worlds again is incredible.”
2nd, Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands): “I don’t fully realise it yet. Second in the world, that sounds really good. Three weeks ago I couldn’t and wasn’t even allowed to walk. But after that it went pretty smoothly and I worked very intensively with the physio. I built up slowly and had just enough time to be okay here. Had the World championships been five days earlier… Fortunately that is not the case and I am now standing here with a silver medal. This is super special, especially with the story before and the race afterwards. If those real men go on those climbs with short efforts, then I know that I would have trouble to follow. A long, hard race is more favourable to me. That’s why I joined an early break, that was the intention. Then when I fell back into that group of seventeen in the final, I thought I could compete for the podium. I then asked what I could do for Mathieu van der Poel. He said: ‘Jump in the good break’. I did and then it ends like this. Really bizarre, I’m second in the world. I know I’m not the fastest. Powless kept up the pace, though, so it didn’t wait for a sprint from a standstill. Then they also started quite early – two hundred metres from the finish – and that was to my advantage. After fifty metres they sat down. Then my acceleration came and I was able to get over it nicely. Once I crossed the line, I didn’t really know what had happened. It was a sprint of dying swans. It’s been a while since the Netherlands won a medal and I’m glad I’m the one who did it. Paris-Roubaix indeed, I have specifically put a lot of time into my recovery to make it to these two races. This World championships were the first. Now we have to see what this brings next week. My body has calmed down. I was balancing on a thin line regarding my form. Now it came out just right with the condition I could get. I worked very hard for this.”
3rd, Michael Valgren (Denmark): “Of course I went for the win, but Alaphilippe was again on the next level. I am very happy with the medal. I knew we were behind Alaphilippe for the podium and we succeeded, so I’m very happy. Of course it would have been nicer to finish second, but that podium finish was crucial. I was damn afraid of Stuyven’s sprint, but luckily I was able to beat him. I do feel a bit sorry for Jasper, because it was in his house. And he’s a good friend, but I’m glad I came third myself. I didn’t really want to sprint at all, because I knew Stuyven is fast. I also had a lot of cramps in the end, because it was a very tough race. Someone who has won the Tour of Flanders would like to ride for me, for someone who has shown next to nothing all year.”
4th, Jasper Stuyven (Belgium): “This is very sour. I’m still very disappointed. It’s really sour. It was just a full drive to the finish line, and apparently it wasn’t fast enough today. I can’t say that I considered myself medal-definite, but they are two guys (Van Baarle and Valgren) who race at the front more often in longer races and have proven that. Apparently they were stronger today. I had a nice race I don’t think we can be blamed, but Julian Alaphilippe was the strongest today. I don’t think I failed with fourth place. Of course it would have been nice to have a medal in my home city, now I am left empty-handed, an empty feeling and disappointment. When Alaphilippe raced away, Wout said he was not having his best day. Perhaps I shot my bolt on the Smeysberg. But Wout was the goal. I had to rectify that situation with Colbrelli and Alaphilippe there. Given the circumstances, this was the highest I could have achieved, but I would have loved to have won a medal.”
6th, Tom Pidcock (Great Britain): “It was a cat-and-mouse game. I thought it would happen at the last lap in Leuven. There was not a single climb that was difficult enough to pull away, except when your name is Alaphilippe. I saved my strength for that one attack, but waited too long and missed the trick. Alaphilippe raced unbelievably. All congratulations to him. It was incredible along the course. We weren’t racing on a road, but in a stadium. It was bizarre. In the first lap I already had a ringing in my ears.”
8th, Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands): “It was very difficult. I think I suffered more in the first part of the race than in the second part. I couldn’t get into the rhythm and I was always too far behind. There was an insane pace right from the start. I had expected that they would attack from afar, but that was 180 kilometres before the end. It was really gruelling. After a race like this everyone has some problems from his back. My condition especially hurt me today, not so much my back. I just didn’t have the legs to do two or three stupid attacks, which I can normally do. I really didn’t have the best feeling. But I had some really good teammates who took me under their wing. They dropped me off really well. On the Smeysberg you saw an impressive Julian Alaphilippe. I thought there were still men sitting there deliberately. I wasn’t afraid of that situation. If you see how he races here, Julian is the deserved world champion. I didn’t expect that someone would be able to ride away alone at twenty kilometres from the end. That proves how strong he was, of course. Did Wout van Aert and I look too much at each other behind? No, at least not me. I would have preferred a more attractive race myself, but it couldn’t have been better. Dylan came over to tell me that he was still feeling good. He asked if he should ride for me and I told him to ride his own race. Dylan jumped right in with the right group and that was perfect. This was one of the expected scenarios for us. It’s great that he crowns that with a silver medal, I think we can be very happy with that. The experience here with the public was impressive. That was also one of the reasons I wanted to start here. I didn’t have an ideal preparation and that’s why I can be proud with this eighth place on this tough course. Hopefully it will also contribute to my condition for next week in Paris-Roubaix. My first time, it must suit me. Hopefully I’ll have more left over then.”
11th, Wout van Aert (Belgium): “This is disappointing. But I didn’t have the legs I wanted today. The situation in the race was not bad either. But in the local rounds in Leuven the legs unfortunately continued to run empty. Too bad for Jasper and for the teammates. The whole team did a great job. Remco played a great role and the rest of the team also took responsibility, I thought in a smart way. That makes it even more disappointing that I didn’t have the legs. Alaphilippe was by far the strongest in the race. He continued to attack until no one could follow. And as for myself… I’m only human, aren’t I? We couldn’t even communicate through the wall of noise we cycled through.”
Remco Evenepoel (Belgium): “I ran completely empty. Unfortunately, it doesn’t earn a medal, but the results don’t lie. The strongest has won. It’s unbelievable how early the race was broken open. But we felt that the French wanted to take the initiative. When Cosnefroy went, I didn’t hesitate. So the rest of the team was sitting in a seat. When there was another attack in Leuven afterwards, I went along again. With the feeling in mind that Wout would join. When that happened, I immediately felt that I had to be in the lead. Also because Jasper was there too. From then on I ran completely empty to make the gap as big as possible. I mostly did the job that was asked of me. Stay up front and counter as much as possible. That was in favor of both Wout and myself. I think we rode a good race as a team, it’s just a shame that this didn’t yield a medal. Also for Jasper, here in his home city. But results don’t lie in the end. The strongest wins, the second and third strongest are on the podium.”
World Championships 2021 Men’s Road Race Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (France) in 5:56:34
2. Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands) at 0:32
3. Michael Valgren (Denmark)
4. Jasper Stuyven (Belgium)
5. Neilson Powless (United States of America)
6. Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain) at 0:49
7. Zdeněk Štybar (Czech Republic) at 1:06
8. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) at 1:18
9. Florian Sénéchal (France)
10. Sonny Colbrelli (Italy).
Worlds’21 man’s road race:
World Championships 2021 Women’s Road Race
An exciting finalé of attacks and counter-attacks came down to a sprint from a select group. The Italian team took control in the last kilometre to put Elisa Balsamo over the line first ahead of Marianne Vos of the Netherlands. Poland’s Katarzyna Niewiadoma took the bronze medal.
The women’s World championships race was also a farewell to Anna van der Breggen. Van der Breggen wasn’t among the top favourites in the hilly race around Leuven. The Dutch woman had already indicated in advance that she would be working for the other Dutch women. As a thank you for their work over the past decade, in the first hours of the race she regularly fetched water for her teammates. The race was not particularly exciting at that time, because there was no early escapes except a short time off the front by Luciana Roland and Urska Bravec. When entering the Leuven circuit, 100 kilometres from the finish, the pace lifted due to the Netherlands team. Some riders had already been dropped. Michaela Drummond went for a solo ride for a while, but it was a long wait for a serious attack. While attacks were expected on the Smeysberg and Moskesstraat at 70 kilometres from the finish, it remained surprisingly quiet. The only real action was Demi Vollering who had to change bikes due to a mechanical.
Soon after, the race split apart. There were attacks by Alissa Jackson, Annemiek van Vleuten and Lucinda Brand, but this did not lead to a break. Ten kilometres later, after attacks by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Anna Henderson and again Van Vleuten, the race was still together, although the peloton was getting smaller all the time. Many riders tried, but for a long time the race was not selective enough to make any differences. Aude Biannic, Marlen Reusser and Mavi Garcia all rode off the front for a few kilometres. Garcia was probably the best, but had attacked too early and was pulled back in the last 10 kilometres. It was becoming clear by then that the battle for the rainbow jersey would come down to a sprint for this select group. In the last ten kilometres there were attacks by Van Vleuten, Van Dijk and Ruth Winder, but they were also unsuccessful. Van Dijk’s last attempt at three kilometres was the most promising, but when she saw that Katarzyna Niewiadoma and Maria Confalonieri were on her wheel, she sat up. A sprint turned out to be inevitable. Balsamo was perfectly dropped off by her Italian teammates in the last metres, she then only had to sprint the last metres and hold off Marianne Vos for the win and the 2021 rainbow jersey. Vos was just short of her fourth World road title in second Place. A very strong looking Katarzyna Niewiadoma finished third at 1 second with the others in the group at her heels.
*** You can see the full ‘PEZ Race Report and Photo Gallery’ HERE. ***
World champion, Elisa Balsamo (Italy): “I have no words for this. This feeling is indescribable. I don’t remember it all. This is a dream for me, especially after such a long season. My team was very, very good. Without them this really wouldn’t have been possible. Sorry, but I have no words to describe this. My team’s lead-out was perfect. I trusted them fully and after the last corner I turned my mind off to give it my all. Next year I can ride in the rainbow jersey, which is incredible. There are a lot of people I have to thank, including my team, family and nutrition coach.”
2nd, Marianne Vos (Netherlands): “When you’re that close, it’s very sour. I couldn’t catch Elisa Balsamo with more speed. Then it’s painful metres. I just missed a bit of punch. I’ve been through this a few times before. I can handle it, but you don’t get opportunities like this every day. I don’t know what went wrong. I was in the perfect wheel, that gap in the last meters was very beneficial for me. Balsamo simply had the fastest sprint.”
3rd, Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland): “I just wanted to attack on every little hill, but I was always with one girl from Holland and one girl from Italy, and unfortunately nobody was riding with me. Now we understand why. I might have been one of the strongest but I ended up with the bronze medal. That’s kind of rewarding. Being third in the world is still great. At the end of the day, I’m definitely happy with bronze. It’s my first medal at the Worlds and I’ve been riding for almost 10 years so I’m definitely stoked about it.”
7th, Demi Vollering (Netherlands): “I don’t feel like I was able to help those girls. After so much bad luck, the best is gone and now I feel guilty. Those girls assume that I do my part, so I tried to bring Marianne forward in the final, but I just couldn’t go any harder. On the climbs I might have wanted to try something, because the harder we make the race, the better it is for us. But I just couldn’t do it, I had lost the freshness. The plan was to help Marianne in the sprint. I still have to look back, but I believe that those Italians went quite early and that Marianne herself had a hole that had to be closed. In such a race everything goes super fast and you can’t always see everything. You are at your limit and it is very disappointing if it does not work out well in the sprint.”
19th, Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands): “I would have liked Marianne to win very much. It is a great shame that she takes a silver medal here. I personally adhered to the plan. That was making the race tough on the climbs, attacking, reacting and closing gaps. Everyone looked at each other so I thought: I’m going to attack, but in the race I saw that not everyone had that spirit. What was missing? We’ll have to discuss that later when we get together. I feel like I rode a lot for TeamNL.”
32nd, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (Netherlands): “A disappointment. It was not a good race from our side. We were not a real team. I don’t think we can judge Marianne on it, because in a sprint you can be beaten. I thought it didn’t go as it should, because everyone was racing ahead of them. We should have ridden more grouped. I think we were all eager to help each other, but I’ve never seen a succession of attacks, nor that we were chasing after them. Balsamo was very fast. Second is not something to be ashamed of. This was my last World championships, it’s nice to end like this.”
Retiring, Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands): “They felt like laps of honour. So many people, so much enthusiasm. It is very special that this could be my last race. That was a big bonus for me. During the race I received many thanks and I also immediately sold a few of my books. This was a moment I have lived for and now it’s over. I don’t have to train anymore and I don’t have to worry more when things go a little less. That’s a very good feeling.”
World Championships 2021 Women’s Road Race Result:
1. Elisa Balsamo (Italy) in 3:52:27
2. Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) at 0:01
4. Kata Blanka Vas (Hungary)
5. Arlenis Sierra (Cuba)
6. Alison Jackson (Canada)
7. Demi Vollering (Netherlands)
8. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Denmark)
9. Lisa Brennauer (Germany)
10. Coryn Rivera (United States of America).
Worlds’21 woman’s road race:
World Championships 2021 Under 23 Men’s Road Race
Filippo Baroncini is the new U23 World champion. With 4 kilometres to go, the Italian went past the leading duo of Mauro Schmid and Arthur Kluckers and then soloed to the World title. In the sprint in the peloton, the Eritrean Biniam Ghirmay was ahead of Olav Kooij.
From Antwerp, the route went first to the Leuven circuit and then to the Flandrien circuit, before returning to Leuven for the last two circuits of 15.6 kilometres. The race was run over 161.1 kilometres over twenty climbs. The neutral start took a little longer due to several crashes. Conor White of Bermuda was one of the first attackers, as was Kazakh’s Nicolas Vinokourov – son of former pro and Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov. In the end, a three-man break got away with Gleb Karpenko (Estonia) and Logan Currie (New Zealand) and Adam Ward (Ireland). Tobias Vančo tried to cross to the attackers on his own, but the Slovak didn’t make it. By the time they passed the World championship village of Keerbergen after 33 kilometres, the lead had already risen to 4 minutes. Italy and Colombia led the peloton, but in the run-up to the first time on the Leuven circuit the chase was not hard.
With a lead of just under five minutes, the attackers started the Wijnpers, after 59 kilometres the first climb of the day. On the Wijnpers and the following Sint-Antoniusberg, the peloton was stretched for the first time and the difference to the leading group took a dive. At the first passage of the finish, Karpenko, Currie and Ward had 3:30. Behind, the Dutch took control of the peloton. Via the Keizersberg, the Decouxlaan and for the second time the Wijnpers, the race continued to the Flandrien circuit. On the Smeysberg, Karpenko was dropped from the leading group and on the Moskesstraat, Currie rode away from Ward. Currie was still defending a 1:45 lead on the peloton. Frenchman Hugo Page, who has a contract with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, then went on the counter-attack. Currie was passed and Page took the lead, but the peloton was soon back together. It was the Italians who led the peloton to the climb, but it didn’t make any difference. Then the route went back to the Leuven circuit. Nine riders escaped: Luca Colnaghi, Daan Hoole, Anders Johannessen, Tomáš Kopecký, Jarrad Drizners, Mauro Schmid, Kevin Vermaerke, Finn Fisher-Black and Fábio Costa.
Belgium had missed the move. The peloton started the last two laps through Leuven with a gap of 40 seconds. A few more riders were between the group and the attackers – Kevin Vauquelin and Yevgeniy Fedorov formed a pair, followed shortly behind by Xabier Mikel Azparren. It took a long chase, but just before the Keizersberg, Vauquelin and Fedorov joined the tail of the leading group, giving us eleven escapees. Azparren noticed he couldn’t close the gap. On the run-up to the Wijnpers, 21 kilometres from the finish, the attacks started in the leading group. Schmid, winner of a stage in the Giro d’Italia, tested the opposition. Due to the attacks, Fisher-Black, who is moving from Jumbo-Visma development to UAE Team Emirates, was dropped. On the ascent of the Sint-Antoniusberg, with 17 kilometres to go, Schmid rode away. By the third crossing of the finish line, the Swiss rider had 20 seconds. Schmid drew on all of his experience gained in his first pro season at Qhubeka NextHash. However, he remained within catching distance of the peloton. The Dutch team picked up the other attackers one by one, leaving the Swiss rider alone in the front. On the last time in Wijnpers he was joined by Arthur Kluckers, who were teammates at Leopard last year. Schmid and Kluckers were no match for an attack from Filippo Baroncini. Second in the European championships in Trentino immediately took a gap with 4 kilometres to go. The Italian flew into the Sint-Antoniusberg, while his teammates disrupted the pursuit. Baroncini had only a small lead, but it turned out to be enough for the World title. The Italian has signed his first professional contract with Trek-Segafredo.
World champion, Filippo Baroncini (Italy): “This is a dream. It was very nervous all day, for myself but for everyone I think. This is a victory that has been a dream all my life. Today it went perfectly for me and for the team. We attacked in the final. My attack had already been discussed before the race. Everything went according to plan. A lot of emotions run through me. I’m speechless. I was just thinking go, go, go, and win this race. Fortunately everything went well. Again, it was a dream. I have no words for this final.”
2nd, Biniam Girmay Hailu (Eritrea): “It was a nervous race from the start. I was attentive and tried to stay out of trouble as good as possible. I could rely on the support of my teammates and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. We realised that several nations took control of the peloton to organise a bunch sprint, so we chose to patiently wait for the final. We were confident for a sprint, because I performed well in this exercise the last couple of weeks. There was a tough positioning battle in the final kilometre, but I felt strong enough to keep calm and hide, taking the risk to be blocked. I’m very proud on what I just achieved, this silver medal means a lot to Eritrea, and also for Africa. I’m convinced that the future of my country is bright, because we have a great potential. We’re working hard for several years already to develop it and with some additional experience more results like this will follow. I’m looking towards the future with hope, it would be a dream to go to Rwanda in 2025 with the ambition of converting this silver medal in a rainbow jersey. It is also an honour for me to achieve this result here, in Belgium, the home base of my team Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. This structure offered me the opportunity to show myself on the highest level in international cycling. The team encouraged me and supported me from the first day. That’s why I also want to thank them.”
3rd, Olav Kooij (Netherlands): “On the one hand I am proud to be on the podium, but on the other hand there is also a bit of disappointment because of missing out on the World title and that beautiful rainbow jersey. We had hopes to win the sprint. That was also the goal at the start of the last lap. It’s a shame that Mick (van Dijke) fell, because he might have been working on a crucial turn in preparation for a sprint. We can’t blame ourselves and rode a good race. It was wonderful to ride this World Championship among all those enthusiastic fans. That created a great atmosphere.”
World Championships 2021 Under 23 Men’s Road Race Result:
1. Filippo Baroncini (Italy) in 3:37:36
2. Biniam Girmay (Eritrea) at 0:02
3. Olav Kooij (Netherlands)
4. Michele Gazzoli (Italy)
5. Lewis Askey (Great Britain)
6. Thibau Nys (Belgium)
7. Luca Colnaghi (Italy)
8. Paul Penhoet (France)
9. Vinicius Rangel Costa (Brazil)
10. Tobias Bayer (Austria)
Worlds’21 U23 man’s road race:
World Championships 2021 Under 19 Women’s Road Race
Zoe Backstedt is the new junior World champion. The British rider beat Kaia Schmid in a final sprint, after escaping together 32 kilometres from the finish. The bronze went to European champion Linda Riedmann (Germany).
The junior women’s race was held on the 15.6 kilometre Leuven circuit, which was completed five times. The climbs of the Keizersberg, the Decouxlaan, the Wijnpers and the Sint-Antoniusberg gave the race twenty steep ramps. In the incident-rich first lap there was a selection on the first hills. The Dutch and British teams were soon at the front. Because there was no attack and the race was hard, a strong, thinned peloton started the second lap. The British women split the race on the second climb of the Wijnpers, after which a leading group of fourteen riders was formed with Olivia Cummins, Makayla Macpherson, Kaia Schmid, Elise Uijen, Anna van der Meiden, Selma and Lantzsch, European Champion Linda Riedmann, Zoe Backstedt, Millie Couzens, Flora Perkins, Noëlle Rütschi, Marith Vanhove, Elisabeth Ebras and Laura Sander. Backstedt accelerated from the front on the Sint-Antoniusberg. The leading group cracked, but stayed together.
Thanks to the Italian squad, the chasers were able to return to the front, and the race could start again. On the third lap, Backstedt attacked on the Wijnpers, with Uijen and Riedmann on her wheel. Again this climb caused problems in the peloton as the British women tried to make the race hard by attacking. Just before the Sint-Antoniusberg, Flora Perkins rode away, but the British rider was passed by Uijen. Backstedt then jumped along with the American Schmid. Backstedt and Schmid started the penultimate lap with a small lead on the first peloton, which had only 22 riders. The two of them managed to extend their lead to 30 seconds, while Germany led the chase. Backstedt tried to get rid of her fellow escapee at the top of Decouxlaan. The American couldn’t hold on, but was able to rejoin the British rider again. On the Wijnpers, Riedmann took a bite out of the lead of the two attackers, but Backstedt and Schmid pushed on and soon stretched their lead to 1 minute. Backstedt tried to get away from Schmid on the last climb of the Wijnpers, but the American hung on. The last climb of the day, the Sint-Antoniusberg, also made no difference, resulting in a sprint for the win. Backstedt tried to close Schmid in a bit in the run-up to the sprint, but left enough space to make a fair sprint. Both women waited a long time, after which the British rider was the best in the short final sprint. Backstedt, whose father, Magnus, won Paris-Roubaix in 2004, only turned 17 on Friday. Earlier this year she won a stage and the GC in the Tour of Yorkshire for juniors, the British Time Trial championship and a stage in the Watersley Challenge, where she was also the best young rider.
World champion, Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain): “This was my toughest race ever. I am speechless. I can’t believe what I’ve done. I tried to spin as best we could to keep moving forward. My teammates behind us were able to keep the gap as wide as possible. Once the gap was over thirty seconds, I knew I could hold the lead together with the American. We kept communicating and encouraging each other, and then on the last lap we would see what would happen. It came down to a sprint and I grabbed it.”
World Championships 2021 Under 19 Women’s Road Race Result:
1. Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain) in 1:55:33
2. Kaia Schmid (United States Of America)
3. Linda Riedmann (Germany) at 0:57
4. Elise Uijen (Netherlands)
5. Makayla Macpherson (United States Of America)
6. Millie Couzens (Great Britain)
7. Marith Vanhove (Belgium)
8. Eglantine Rayer (France)
9. Eleonora Ciabocco (Italy)
10. Mijntje Geurts (Netherlands).
Worlds’21 U19 woman’s road race:
World Championships 2021 Under 19 Men’s Road Race
Per Strand Hagenes is the new junior World champion. The 18-year-old Norwegian, who will ride for the Jumbo-Visma development team next year, was the first to cross the line after a solo. Frenchman Romain Grégoire won silver, Estonian Madis Mihkels won the sprint for third place.
The junior men had to race just over 121 kilometres, with 32 climbs on the course. There was problems from the start due to crashes. Uijtdebroeks, one of the favourites, was involved. The Belgian already has a professional contract with BORA-hansgrohe, was soon back on his bike, but had to chase on his own. Starting the third lap he was still riding between the team cars and the peloton was not slowing down. Milan Kadlec (Czech), Luis-Joe Lührs (Germany) and Joshua Tarling (Britain), who were seen as serious outsiders for the title, had escaped on the narrow Sint-Antoniusberg and managed to extend their lead to 1 minute. Meanwhile in the peloton it was the calm before the storm. Halfway through the race the Norwegians took charge of the race for Per Strand Hagenes, who has been on a roll all season. France also started to help, reducing the lead of the three. Uijtdebroek was now at more than 4 minutes. With more than 30 kilometres to go, Kadlec, Lührs and Tarling were caught and the battle for the World title could now begin.
On the penultimate lap Daniel Schrag (Germany) and Dario Igor Belletta (Italy) tried their luck and were joined by Pierre Gautherat and Eddy le Huitouze (France), Simon Dalby (Denmark) and Finlay Pickering (Britain). These six were the first to hear the bell of the final circuit, but the difference was still small. The considerably thinned out peloton was about 40 riders, was at 15 seconds. At the Keizersberg, the six escapees still had a small lead, this was where Grégoire and Strand Hagenes put in an attack. The Frenchman and Dane managed to cross to the nine front riders before the foot of the Wijnpers. Just before the climb, on a tight bend, some of the leaders crashed. Strand Hagenes missed the crash the crash and put in an attack. The Norwegian got away from the others and had a good lead on his closest attacker Grégoire. The Frenchman had been held up by the crash and had to give chase, but was unable to catch Strand Hagenes. The Norwegian took on the last passage of the Sint-Antoniusberg and had plenty of time to celebrate his World title. Grégoire was second, while Mihkels managed to give Estonia a bronze medal.
World champion, Per Strand Hagenes (Norway): “I knew it was possible when I saw the course. I am normally quite good on short and steep climbs and I have done well in similar races in the past. But to top it off… That’s really great. I lay in my bed the night before the World championship and my heart beat high at the idea that I could become World champion today. I still had to close a gap on the leading group. Then I had to compete against three Frenchmen. I knew I had to start the climb first and then go full throttle. There was a French rider on my wheel. When I looked back, however, I saw that I was several meters ahead. Then it was just head down and push as hard as possible to the finish.”
World Championships 2021 Under 19 Men’s Road Race Result:
1. Per Strand Hagenes (Norway) in 2:43:48
2. Romain Gregoire (France) at 0:19
3. Madis Mihkels (Estonia) at 0:24
4. Martin Svrcek (Slovakia)
5. Alexander Hajek (Austria)
6. Antonio Morgado (Portugal)
7. Manuel Oioli (Italy)
8. Vlad van Mechelen (Belgium)
9. Max Poole (Great Britain)
10. Luis-Joe Luehrs (Germany).
Worlds’21 U19 man’s road race:
Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde 2021
Third in the last edition of the Omloop van het Houtland (UCI 1.1) in 2019, Taco van der Hoorn returned to West Flanders this Thursday with the bit between his teeth. The 27 year-old, who has distinguished himself many times this season in breakaways, has repeated the feat impressively in the streets of Lichteverlede during this 74th edition.
Taco van der Hoorn first perfectly avoided the trap caused by echelons as the field split into four on the 95-kilometre ride from Middelkerke to the local circuit of Lichteverlede. Along with Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin), van der Hoorn broke away from a group of 37 riders shortly before the start of the eight laps, however they enjoyed a narrow maximum lead of just over a minute.
As both men were about to get caught on the penultimate lap, van der Hoorn refused to abdicate and took off again in a solo effort. Manoeuvring with a handful of seconds with 10 kilometres from the finish, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux rider brilliantly timed his effort, taking advantage of Van Keirsbulck (Alpecin) who had joined him in the last lap, to once again go on his own.
After a final solo in the streets of Lichtervelde, Taco van der Hoorn resisted the return of the peloton and claimed his third victory this season. Second place went to his teammate Danny van Poppel, winner of the peloton’s sprint ahead of Gerben Thijssen who thus concluded a stellar team performance from the team led by Hilaire Van der Schueren and Steven De Neef.
Winner, Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “I’m very proud of my third win of the season, the eighth for the team! When you are a sprinter or a true climber, it is possible to collect wins, but for a rider with my profile it is much more difficult. It allows me to enjoy this kind of moment even more so! Once again, I received no favours because Jonas Rickaert and I had to fight hard for 80 kilometres to stay ahead. Our energy tank was drained in the final phase, but luckily I was able to rely on Van Keirsbulck’s contribution on the last lap. We had to be tactically on point, because in the peloton my teammate Danny van Poppel was the fastest on paper. In a slightly uphill section with a headwind, I managed to get rid of Van Keirsbulck, then I took advantage of the last technical kilometres to leave the peloton behind me!”
2nd, Danny Van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux): “It was a risky bet in the final, because although we know what Taco is capable of, it wouldn’t have been illogical for Van Keirsbulck to gain the upper hand due to his freshness. Once again, I am in awe of Taco’s performance! In the peloton, we waited patiently before my brother Boy propelled me in the last hundred meters. Our sprint train mastered to perfection, so that I could sprint from afar and get second place. By taking the first two places on the podium, we marked a fantastic day for the team!”
Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde 2021
1. Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in 3:57:19
2. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux at 0:04
3. Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
5. Alberto Dainese (Ita) DSM
6. Arvid de Kleijn (Ned) Rally Cycling
7. Campbell Stewart (NZ) Black Spoke Pro Cycling
8. Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Gil D’Heygere (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
10. Erlend Blikra (Nor) Uno-X.
Lefevere Talks Worlds
According to Patrick Lefevere, the tough course at the World championships was mainly in Julian Alaphilippe’s favour. Remco Evenepoel played an important role in this. That is what the team manager of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who again has a world champion in his stable, told VTM Nieuws.
“They raced beautifully,” said Lefevere about the Belgian team. Evenepoel was one of the riders who threw his forces in the final and before the final. That was for leader Wout van Aert, but the team boss of ‘The Wolfpack’ has a different opinion. “In the service of Alaphilippe, of course,” he said with a straight face.
“Remco’s assignment was to set the race. The Belgians got the event they asked for, but you have to see that you have a few bullets left at the end. There weren’t any,” said Lefevere. “Wout – with all due respect, I think he is a World racer – had to get Alaphilippe twice himself. That is not up to him.”
For the second year in a row, Alaphilippe can wear the rainbow jersey, although Lefevere initially wasn’t sure. “At 41 kilometres from the finish, he showed himself for the first time. Then I thought: either he is not good, or he is doing this for Sénéchal or another Frenchman. But then he went again, and again. Then we don’t have to discuss now.”
Vincenzo Nibali returns to Team Astana
Vincenzo Nibali will return to Astana, the team he rode for from 2013 to 2016 and where he achieved most of his career highlights, including two triumphs at the Giro d’Italia (in 2013 and 2016) and the Tour de France (in 2014).
The 36-year-old Italian rider is set to reunite with Team Astana in 2022 in what will be a homecoming for the decorated Grand Tour winner.
“I am very happy to come back to Team Astana, because for me it is a real family that has given me a lot and together with which I have achieved my greatest successes. I know most of the management and staff of the team, so I will return to the team I know really well. Also I have some very nice memories from visiting Kazakhstan and its capital and it was an unforgettable experience”, – said Vincenzo Nibali.
“It is difficult to talk right now about any specific expectations for my return to the team, as well as about the plans for next season. But first of all, for me it will be an enjoyable reunion with the team, and I would like to enjoy the new season to the fullest. Of course, I would like to prove myself, to achieve certain results, but at the same time I am interested in providing my experience to young riders. In any case, together with the team management we will still discuss various aspects of the new season, we will determine the goals, both team and my personal ones, and after that we will start moving in the chosen direction”, – added Nibali.
Nibali spent four seasons in Team Astana and accumulated 22 wins, including his three Grand Tour titles, as well as victories at Il Lombardia, the Italian National Championships, Tirreno-Adriatico, Giro del Trentino and Tour of Oman. In the blue colours of the Kazakh team, Nibali won an impressive nine Grand Tour stages.
“We are happy that this return is coming true. Vincenzo Nibali doesn’t need any introduction – he is a true champion and leader. Probably, he spent the best years of his career in our team, and I think it is symbolic that he will finish such a great cycling career in Team Astana. For us, the arrival of Nibali is an opportunity to get and to use all the rich experience a rider of his calibre can offer, to transform and improve the team, which will undergo some great changes in the new season. We would like to pay more attention to young riders and the presence of a champion like Nibali could play a very important role in their growth and development. However, I believe that Vincenzo has not said yet his last word in cycling, so in some races we can still rely on him as the leader of the team to achieve new successes together again”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Team Astana in 2022.
Nibali back in blue:
Cofidis Announces Signing of Spanish Climber Ion Izagirre
Ion Izagirre will wear the Cofidis uniform next season. The 32-year-old Spanish climber signs for one year with the team of team manager Cédric Vasseur. Izagirre leaves the Kazakh Astana-Premier Tech after three seasons.
With Ion Izagirre, Cofidis hopes to have attracted the dream lieutenant for classification leader Guillaume Martin, but the Spaniard will also be given the space to pursue (individual) success, especially in stage races of one week. Izagirre does not hide his enthusiasm. “It’s always a special feeling to change teams. However, I am very happy with my new team. I meet some good friends there.”
Izagirre refers to former rider Bingen Fernandez, who is currently the DS of the French formation, and the brothers Jesús and José Herrada. “Cofidis is a French team, but it is also a Spanish team at the same time,” concludes a smiling Izagirre. “Cofidis is a great team with a rich history and renowned riders. I will play a double role within the team, as I have agreed with Cédric (Vasseur).”
Vasseur is a satisfied man after putting on Izagirre. “The arrival of Ion Izagirre is excellent news for the whole team. He is a really great reinforcement and has already won stages in all three Grand Tours. With Izagirre and Guillaume Martin, we can now compete on two different fronts at WorldTour level. We want to shine with him at the highest level and in all areas.”
In his career, Izagirre has already won stages in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España and he was also the best in the rounds of Poland and the Basque Country and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. This year, the all-rounder crowned himself Spanish champion against the clock and won a stage in ‘his’ Tour of the Basque Country. He was also third in Paris-Nice and seventh in the Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Mikkel Honoré stays with Deceuninck – Quick-Step
The Dane will continue to be a member of the team until at least the end of 2023.
The 24-year-old Mikkel made a big step forward this season, taking his first pro victory in March, at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, which was followed by a stage win in Vuelta al Pais Vasco. His remarkable results didn’t stop there, as in the summer he podiumed at the Clasica San Sebastian, finished top 5 overall at the Tour de Pologne and runner-up behind teammate Remco Evenepoel at Druivenkoers Overijse, before two other impressive top 5, at the Tour of Britain and Primus Classic.
His strong results and the progress he made have naturally landed him a two-year contract extension with the Wolfpack, where he started his career in 2019 after a short spell as a stagiaire.
“I’m honoured. I have had so many great experiences in my life as a pro rider so far as part of this amazing team. There have been a lot of things that helped me improve and learn more with each season. I feel each month the improvement I’m making and I look back on a lot of memorable victories I’ve been part of riding with such big names. To be honest my teammates and the staff feel like family, we spend so much time together on the road, and when you’re on the road you feel like you are at home, I think that’s the greatest thing. The staff creates a great atmosphere every time. They, in my opinion, are the main reason for the culture and the ambiance in the team. When the staff are always giving 110% for us riders, then we also feel like we need to give 110% and it makes you more motivated. Our staff really makes a big difference.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere was aware of the Dane’s talent as early as 2018, before he turned pro: “I first took Mikkel as a stagiaire in the team and when we signed him, I knew he would be a great asset for us and that’s what he proved so far. This season he made a big step, taking two wins and several other strong results in a wide range of races. He still has room to improve, and that’s what we will try to do. You feel Mikkel really feels at home here and together we’ll aim for some more successes in the next two years.”
“Coppi e Bartali this season was the greatest moment for me so far as a rider as it was my first professional victory and it was also in Italy, my second home, which made it even more special. It was a very important step to take my first win. All the sacrifices and hard work you do and then being able to raise your hands is something so nice that you will carry with you forever”, said Mikkel about his first big moment of the year.
But the Dane didn’t stop there, and the story continued in stage 5 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco: “I came over the line together with Josef, which was extra special. Victory wise Coppi e Bartali was emotional as it was my first pro win, but to pass the line with your teammate that’s, I think, something even more special. It was incredible. It’s a pity we couldn’t be both on the first step on the podium, because it was fantastic and something a lot of riders dream of doing once in their career and not many are able to do as well.”
Fast forward in time, but staying in the beautiful Basque Country, and Mikkel took his first top 3 in a World Tour one-day race, at the always-entertaining Clasica San Sebastian: “It was a pity that I crashed in the final kilometres of the race. I was feeling very good and had a great block of training before. I was motivated to race again. I was on the wheel of Mohoric, but he made a mistake in the corner so I couldn’t do much to avoid it. In the end it was an instinct and a quick decision I made to try to get the least damage possible and to get back on the bike as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, you are also a bit disappointed in the end, as I was so close to winning my first big World Tour one-day race. It’s part of racing, the ups and the downs. Then I went to Poland, where I was very motivated and had a great week with the team, enjoying our results, but also the beautiful roads, the big cycling fans and the fantastic organisation that made everything so nice.”
“Now after a strong Tour of Britain I hope to have a good end of the season. Then the focus goes onto the future, to next year. I dream of being at the start of next year’s of the Tour de France in Denmark. I don’t know how many times you can say the Tour de France will pass in front of your home town, where you grew up, maybe even never. I’m very lucky to be able to be a professional cyclist at this time where the Tour has its Grand Depart in Copenhagen. And then of course winning a big one-day race is one of my absolute dreams”, Mikkel smiles.
To make these dreams come true, Mikkel knows that he can rely on his fantastic teammates, staff, but also on Patrick Lefevere, the man guiding the Wolfpack: “I have incredible respect for Patrick, for always believing in me and taking me into the team and for all his work. We have a great relationship together and how I saw from close hands in the last years how he works and how he manages the team, it’s impressive. How he keeps his riders motivated by making them happy. He knows that in the end happy riders are great performing riders. His kind of mentality and the team’s mentality are also one of the things that didn’t make me doubt for a single second about continuing with the Wolfpack.”
Mikkel Honoré – Win in the Basque Country:
Team Jumbo-Visma Signs Milan Vader for Three Years
Milan Vader will ride for Team Jumbo-Visma for the next three seasons. The 25-year-old Dutchman will combine his love of mountain biking with races on the road with the World Tour team.
Vader is looking forward to the time ahead. “It’s cool to ride for Team Jumbo-Visma. In my opinion it is the leading team of this moment. It is nice that it is a Dutch team. Therefore it feels a bit like coming home. We have talked about the path for the coming years. Racing on the road is relatively new for me. I used to race on the road, but not very much. I am very much looking forward to it. The team has a lot of knowledge and experience, so it will be good. I like that everything is focused on performance at Team Jumbo-Visma. I expect to learn a lot and to develop myself as an athlete. A big goal will be the Olympic Games in Paris. I hope to win a medal on the mountain bike. Team Jumbo-Visma is the perfect option to help me with that.”
Merijn Zeeman, sportive director of Team Jumbo-Visma, is happy with the arrival of Vader. “It is an interesting project and it has already been a great journey. For years, Milan has been coached by Tim Heemskerk, one of our performance coaches. That is why we have been in touch more intensively. He has been on a training camp with us and he has done a number of physical and personality tests. We got to know him really well. We see a lot of potential in him. He is physically extremely talented. He is technically very good on the bike. Also, his personality appeals to us very much. Milan is someone who is very willing to invest in himself and can work well together.”
“We think his qualities lie in up to and including the middle mountains”, Zeeman continued. “He is explosive uphill. In such a race program we want to teach him things. How quickly does he pick it up, riding in a peloton, a World Tour peloton? That is something that we still have to see. We are also going to look at the World Cup calendar in mountain biking and the championships that go with it. And how we are going to find a good variation in it.”
Óscar Rodríguez: Movistar’s First 2022 Signing
Spaniard from Navarra – a talented climber and an example of teamwork – set to join his home WorldTour team with two-year contract.
The Movistar Team announced Thursday that Óscar Rodríguez (Burlada, Navarra, ESP; 1995), a current member of the Astana – Premier Tech squad, has signed a contract for the next two years (2022 and 2023) with the organisation managed by Eusebio Unzué.
Having cut his teeth at his home Club Ciclista Villavés and earned a place in the pro scene at the strong development outfit Equipo Lizarte, Óscar soon showed his WorldTour climbing caliber, other than good abilities for all kinds of terrains, including TTs. A member of the Murias team in 2017-19, he claimed a great victory in his maiden La Vuelta appearance, 2018, with a solo effort up the steep slopes of La Camperona.
A solid 2019 season – runner-up in the Vuelta a Burgos; close to a top-20 overall result in La Vuelta – opened him the doors of the WT with Astana, who gave him the chance to debut in the Giro – and other top-ranked events, such as Dauphiné, Tirreno or UAE- and saw him reaching consistent, brilliant results all over the 2021 season: he was 2nd atop the Mont Ventoux, 3rd in the Route d’Occitanie, 6th – while supporting the race winner – in Ordizia and 10th in the Vuelta a Andalucía.
Rodríguez’s signing with the Movistar Team is a reason for joy and pride for the Blues, his Navarra origins reinforcing the local presence into a team always supporting its route during its (with 2022) 43 years in cycling’s top tier.
Óscar Rodríguez: “I’m so happy to be able to race with the Movistar Team for the next two years. At every place I’ve been part of since I took up cycling, both as a kid at the Club Ciclista Villavés and as an amateur at the Equipo Lizarte, everyone there would have loved to have this chance. My home team, with such an illustrious history – it makes me really happy. Currently I’m recovering from a crash I sustained at La Vuelta – I’m doing some exercise to strengthen the muscles in my left knee; hopefully I can get it fully healed soon, so I can resume training.
“My main wish for the next few years is performing strong so I can try and help my team-mates out as much as possible, other than – when I’ve got the chance – try and contest some victories. Above all, this is about feeling appreciated by them and feeling them happy about what I do. I’ll offer all of my commitment and professionalism to make this gamble by the team a huge success.”
Sparkassen Münsterland Giro Last Race For André Greipel
It has been known for a while that André Greipel will end his career after this season. However, the 39-year-old German now also knows when he will last pin a race number. After the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro (October 3), the bicycle will definitely be thrown away.
The Israel Start-Up Nation rider looks ahead to his last race in an interview on the Factor Bikes website. “It’s nice to finish in our own country. If friends, relatives and supporters want to see my last match, they can. There will certainly be a farewell party, although it is difficult to plan it in corona time. But we will definitely organise something.”
Greipel will therefore not end his career in Paris-Roubaix. “And I’m secretly happy about that. I have no ambitions for my last race, by the way. Of course, I will participate if the race turns into a sprint. Then I’ll try again, but I don’t feel any pressure anymore. I just want to enjoy my last race as a professional.”
Greipel, who started his professional career at T-Mobile in 2006, managed to grow into one of the most successful sprinters of his generation. He made the victory gesture several times in the Giro d’Italia (seven times), the Tour de France (eleven times) and the Vuelta a España (four times). More than a hundred victories adorn his palmarès. This season he crossed the line twice more as the winner.
André Greipel last race:
BikeExchange Changes Bianchi for Giant
The marriage between BikeExchange and Bianchi will only last a year. La Gazzetta dello Sport writes that the Australian team will switch to Giant bikes in 2022.
At the end of last year there was a real change around in the peloton with regard to bike sponsors. Jumbo-Visma switched to Cervélo, DSM chose Scott and BikeExchange rode Bianchi.
The collaboration between the Italian bicycle brand and the Australian team is not long-lasting, because Giant will supply BikeExchange with bikes for 2022. That means Giant will return to the WorldTour. The last WT teams associated with the Taiwanese brand were CCC and Sunweb.
UCI Track Champions League Announces Postponement of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Round as Velodrome Extends Duty as Covid Vaccination Centre
Formerly set to host round two of the inaugural season in November, the French venue is now to be featured from 2022 as it fulfils its essential role in the local community
24 September 2021 – Paris, France: Discovery Sports Events and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announce that Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines will now join the UCI Track Champions League from 2022, and no longer host the second round of the inaugural league on November 20 2021.
Following recent guidance from the French government, the velodrome just outside Paris will continue to be used as an essential community vaccination centre until the end of the year, and is therefore unable to fulfil its role as a host venue. The venue will return to the UCI Track Champions League calendar however, and is set to host the league in 2022, 2023 and 2024 as planned.
Due to the limited time remaining to deliver a premium event in an alternative location, the cancelled round will not be replaced in the 2021 race calendar. The inaugural season will therefore comprise five international rounds, taking place in Mallorca, Panevézys, London (two rounds) and Tel Aviv.
The league’s final classification prize pool for riders is unaffected, and preparations for the inaugural round in Mallorca, Spain on November 6 continue.
For more information, please visit ucitrackchampionsleague.com.
Big Names Set to Ride Il Giro di Sicilia
The race’s provisional entry list is announced: big names including Nibali, Froome, Valverde, Bardet and Dombrowski will battle it out over four stages from 28 September to 1 October, alongside young prospects such as Fortunato, Velasco, Baroncini and Jensen.
Big names in the world of cycling are set to compete in Il Giro di Sicilia from 28 September, starting in Avola and ending in Mascali on Friday 1 October after four stages of racing. Organised by RCS Sport in collaboration with the Regione Siciliana, this year’s race will see iconic riders from cycling’s ‘old guard’ take to the roads of Sicily, including: Vincenzo Nibali, winner of four Grand Tours (the 2013 and 2016 Giro d’Italia, 2014 Tour de France, 2010 Vuelta a España) and three Monument Classics (2015 and 2017 Il Lombardia, 2018 Milano-Sanremo), Chris Froome (2018 Giro d’Italia, the 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Tour de France and 2011 and 2017 Vuelta a España), Alejandro Valverde (2009 Vuelta a España, four-time winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, five-time winner of La Flèche Wallonne, and the 2018 road world champion), Romain Bardet (two-time Tour de France podium finisher in 2016 and 2017 and King of the Mountains winner in the 2019 Tour de France) and Joe Dombrowski (stage winner at the recent Giro d’Italia).
These great champions will challenge the new generation at the race, led by Lorenzo Fortunato, a rider who triumphed atop the Zoncolan on Stage 14 of the 2021 Corsa Rosa. The race also welcomes Simone Velasco (2019 Trofeo Laigueglia), second place finisher in the under-23 European Road Race Championships Filippo Baroncini, as well as the Danish rider Mattias Skjelmose Jensen, a great revelation of the last UAE Tour (6th in the general classification). Joining them is the 20 year-old Puerto Rican national champion Abner Gonzalez, Thymen Arensman, 21 years old and third in the final time trial of the Vuelta a España, and the 19 year-old riders Finn Fisher-Black and Alastair MacKellar.
Stage 1: AVOLA – LICATA 179 KM
Stage 2: SELINUNTE (CASTELVETRANO) – MONDELLO (PALERMO) 173 KM
Stage 3: TERMINI IMERESE – CARONIA 180 KM
Stage 4: SANT’AGATA DI MILITELLO – MASCALI 180 KM
2021 Paris-Tours: 22 Teams, 212,3 Kilometres and 9 Vineyard Tracks
The one-off postponement of the Northern Classics to the autumn season, the final act of which will be Paris–Tours, has muddied the waters in terms of who is going to enter the race, but the course of the 2021 edition seems to be one for the tough men. Since the distance and the location of the vineyard tracks remain exactly the same, everyone knows where to pounce on the opportunity to thin out the peloton and later launch a decisive attack, in the same vein as the three men who have won the race since the transition to the new format. In 2019, Jelle Wallays threw caution to the wind with a victorious solo attack from 50 kilometres out, on the Côte de Goguenne, while the Côte de la Rochère has twice been the scene of the final selection. In 2018, Cosnefroy, Terpstra and Kragh Andersen took off here before the Dane proved strongest in the finale, while in 2020, Cosnefroy was also part of the decisive move together with Casper Pedersen, who went on to prevail in their duel on Avenue de Grammont. The Frenchman could be looking to settle the score this time round.
22 teams entered:
AG2R Citroën Team (FRA)
Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux (BEL)
Israël Start-Up Nation (ISR)
Team DSM (GER)
B&B Hotels p/b KTM (FRA)
Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB (BEL)
Equipo Kern Pharma (ESP)
Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise (BEL)
Team Arkea-Samsic (FRA)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team (NOR)
St Michel-Auber 93 (FRA)
Xelliss-Roubaix Lille Métropole (FRA)
Ø The 115th Paris–Tours, which will start in Chartres on Sunday 10 October, will be decided on a 212,3 km course featuring 9 vineyard tracks with a combined length of 9.5 km within the final 50 km. It is a carbon copy of last year’s route and, therefore, perfect for the classics specialists.
Ø The 22 teams on the start list include the outfits of the winners of the last three editions, which were held in part on these unpaved sections. A total of 14 teams that participated in the last Tour de France will be present.
The Tro Bro Léon and Amaury Sport Organisation Team Up
The Tro Bro Léon and Amaury Sport Organisation are pleased to announce that they have entered into a partnership agreement to co-organise future editions of the famous Breton race. The organisation will continue to be managed by the current team headed by Jean-Paul Mellouët. A.S.O. will provide the race with its expertise in the search for sponsors and media coverage, as well as its logistical support. The Tro Bro Léon was created in 1984 and included in the French Road Cycling Cup and has been a UCI ProSeries race since 2020. The Tro Bro Léon is a hallmark of Breton cycling and has become a premier event on the international cycling calendar. This partnership aims to give the Tro Bro Léon all the resources it needs to ensure its long-term survival and to attract the best teams to its “ribinoù”.
Jean-Paul Mellouët, Director of the Tro Bro Léon commented: “I am particularly pleased with this partnership agreement with one of the leading figures in French cycling. I, and my incredible team, have never ceased to develop the Tro Bro Léon since its creation in 1984 and during the 37 years that have followed. As director of the event, it is my duty today to think about the future of the race so it can continue for decades. For me, this agreement is a guarantee that the Tro Bro Léon, thanks to A.S.O.’s recognised know-how in commercial, media and logistical matters, and while preserving the unique character that has made it a success, will continue to flourish for many years to come.”
Pierre-Yves Thouault, Cycling Direction of A.S.O. declared: “It is with joy and pride that A.S.O. will lend its support to one of the greatest success stories of cycling in Brittany. The Tro Bro Léon, a forerunner in terms of the uniqueness of its route, offers a model from which A.S.O. has even drawn inspiration to invigorate the Paris-Tours classic, which now includes vineyard paths. The enjoyment we had in organising the start of the 2021 Tour de France in Brittany with everyone from the local cycling community adds to our enthusiasm to participate in the future success of the Tro Bro Léon.”
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