In this Monday’s EUROTRASH, we wrap up the men’s Santos Tour Down Under and the first race in Europe, the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premi València. Plus cross action from the UCI World Cup cyclo-cross in Benidorm and the Exact Cross Kasteelcross in Zonnebeke, all with results, reports and video.
Tom Boonen to make a comeback – TOP STORY.
Rider news: Egan Bernal has a good feeling in his training, Julian Alaphilippe wants to put 2022 behind him, Geraint Thomas to make decision on his future, Mark Cavendish to start his season in Oman, Christophe Moreau arrested, Nairo Quintana not going to Corratec and Bingoal takes Bas Tietema to court.
Race news: Lotto Dstny and Uno-X receive wildcards for Volta a Catalunya, Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat not in Tour of Flanders, no Oude Kwaremont in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and the Ster van Zwolle without main sponsor.
Contract news: Pierre Barbier joins CIC U Nantes Atlantique.
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TOP STORY: Tom Boonen to Make a Comeback
It has been almost six years since Tom Boonen ended his cycling career, but the now 42 year-old, four-time winner of Paris-Roubaix will pin on a race number again in 2023. “It is starting to itch again,” he said at Velofollies. “I’m even considering looking for some competition on the bike again,” Sporza quotes the former pro.
“I’m still a bit hesitant, but it’s starting to itch again,” said Boonen, who is not thinking about a return to the professional peloton. “I think of something like the Roc du Maroc or some gravel races.” As far as those gravel races are concerned, Boonen does not rule out participation in the World Championships. “Who knows. In any case, it is becoming very big, has a lot of potential. I get it, because it goes back to the essence of cycling: nature, freedom…”
A future as a DS or even national coach is also possible, says Boonen. “Never say never. When I first retired, I had the chance to do something like that at Quick-Step, but I finally said I wanted to do something different, take a breather after all that attention. But it’s not that I don’t have that ambition. I’m not looking at all, that will come back sometime. I am still young.”
Boonen also gave his thoughts on the current generation of professionals. He especially had nice words for Arnaud De Lie. “I see him more as a cross between Gilbert and me. And I mean the best of Gilbert and the best of me. It’s someone we haven’t seen the last of. I expect a lot from him, even this year. He also has a super good headline. Is one of the few of this generation still chill. He really won my heart.”
Men’s Santos Tour Down Under 2023
Rohan Dennis took Jumbo-Visma’s first victory of 2023 on Stage 2 of the Tour Down Under on Thursday. The Australian jumped into the leading group of five riders in the difficult final phase and cleverly managed to get away from his fellow escapees Jay Vine, Simon Yates, Jai Hindley and Mauro Schmid before the finish in Victor Harbor. Alberto Bettiol lost time, due to cramps, and his leader’s jersey to Dennis. Home favourite Michael Matthews, had bad luck in the final.
With Alberto Bettiol in the leader’s jersey, the peloton started a tough stage to Victor Harbor, with 2,400 metres of climbing. There was some nervousness at the start, because the wind could play a significant role. Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan) and Johan Jacobs (Movistar) went in an early break.
After 50 kilometres the peloton was split by Jayco AlUla and UAE Team Emirates, these were the first echelons of the WorldTour in 2023. About fifty riders were in the front group, including Bettiol, Michael Matthews, Luke Plapp and Magnus Sheffield. Matthews managed to take 3 bonus seconds at the intermediate sprints, which put him 4 seconds behind Bettiol. Due to the route going in a different direction, a regrouping followed. However, it remained nervous in the run-up to the final, which had Nettle Hill (2.5km at 6.8%, max. 15.6%) twenty kilometres from the finish. Just before that climb, Matthews had to change bikes and lost his place at the front.
Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates) attacked at that moment and Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) jumped on Nettle Hill. A strong Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma) managed to join Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) and Mauro Schmid (Soudal Quick-Step) at the top. The five went into the final with a lead. The thinned peloton, where Matthews was still missing, followed in 20 seconds. Yates didn’t work at the front, knowing that Matthews was behind. The other four set the pace and that worked well and the lead grew to 40 seconds. Alberto Bettiol then suffered extreme cramps 11 kilometres from the finish and could hardly move. He lost a lot of time and lost his lead.
In the last 5 kilometres, the lead of the five front riders was not threatened. In the first chased group, Caleb Ewan was hoping it would come back together, but the gap was too big. In the leading group, the tactical game for the stage victory began in the last kilometre. Hindley attacked, but was countered by a very strong Dennis. He managed to make a gap that could no longer be closed. Dennis gave Jumbo-Visma their first victory of 2023, 2 seconds ahead of Vine, Schmid and Yates. Hindley followed 5 seconds behind and the peloton crossed the line 11 seconds after Dennis. The Australian, partly due to the bonuses on the line, is the new leader on GC. He is 3 seconds ahead of Vine and 12 seconds ahead of Sheffield.
Stage winner and overall leader, Rohan Dennis (Jumbo-Visma): “To lose Robert Gesink yesterday was obviously a big loss, but the guys rallied around me and did a brilliant job today, one man down. I couldn’t be happier with how the guys raced for me. I nevertheless had to fight for this win. I picked up the pace on the final ascent to catch up to Yates and Vine, who had already fled. I didn’t expect a breakaway attempt on that climb would go to the line, so I’m glad I was a part of that. In hindsight, it turns out I gambled well there. The run-in was quite tricky. With that, it was hard as a team to take control. I seized the opportunity and jumped to the head of the race. The co-operation in the group went well.”
KOM, 2nd on the stage and overall, Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates): “We saw that climb in the briefing last night and knew that if we had the right group over the top that it had a chance to go to the line. We worked really cohesively until the finish and had mutual benefit and giving our all. It’s pretty cool to go in with a team plan to make the race like we did. There’s still 3 days to go and the harder climbs are still to come so I’m excited for it.”
3rd overall, Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers): “It happened on the last climb… There is no respect in the peloton. I was touched on both sides and that caused my chain to come off, it got stuck between my frame and crankset. And I couldn’t get it out. After that I couldn’t make up that time anymore. I collided with a rider on the climb (Nettle Hill), which caused me to fall to the right. Matthews was sitting there at the time and we touched. I immediately apologised after the finish. Unfortunately this is part of the race, but it really wasn’t my intention. I tried to say sorry and immediately started the conversation.”
5th on the stage, Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe): “It was quite a stressful day, particularly with the crosswinds, which created a lot of stress. It was tricky coming into the final climb. We had Giovanni following the initial move, and then I made the move with Rohan. In the end, I was in a group of five with Dennis, Schmidt, Vine and Yates. We were pretty committed to staying clear of the chasing group. I went at the chicane section and got a bit of a gap, but ultimately I didn’t have the legs to make it to the line and eventually the other guys passed me in the finale.”
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Stage 2 Result:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Jumbo-Visma in 4:00:40
2. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates at 0:02
3. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal – Quick-Step
4. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla
5. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe at 0:05
6. Caleb Ewan (Aus) UniSA-Australia at 0:11
7. Emīls Liepiņš (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
8. Corbin Strong (NZ) Israel-Premier Tech
9. Kaden Groves (Aus) Alpecin-Deceuninck
10. Paul Penhoët (Fra) Groupama-FDJ.
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Overall After Stage 2:
1. Rohan Dennis (Aus) Jumbo-Visma in 7:44:41
2. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates in 0:03
3. Magnus Sheffield (USA) INEOS Grenadiers in 0:12
4. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal – Quick Step in 0:13
5. Corbin Strong (NZ) Israel-Premier Tech in 0:14
6. Hugo Page (Fra) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
7. Kaden Groves (Aus) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 0:15
8. Marius Mayrhofer (Ger) DSM at 0:17
9. Nikias Arndt (Ger) Bahrain-Victorious at 0:19
10. Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ at 0:20.
TDU’23 stage 2:
Pello Bilbao won Stage 3 of the Tour Down Under. The Spaniard of Bahrain Victorious escaped on Corkscrew, the deciding climb of the day, with Simon Yates and Jay Vine to beat them in the sprint. Vine took over the leader’s jersey from Rohan Dennis, who lost a lot of time.
The third stage of the Tour Down Under went from Norwood to Campbelltown and Corkscrew Road, a 2.5 kilometre climb in the final. Corkscrew Road rises at an average of 9%, with peaks reaching almost 20%. Once at the top, there is a fast and technical descent to the finish line.
The stage got off to a tough start, with the climb to Norton Summit (9.6km at 4.8%). The break of the day was formed by the first attack by Mikkel Honoré (EF Education-EasyPost), who was followed by Fabio Felline of Astana Qazaqstan. In the peloton, Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jumbo-Visma, the team of overall leader Rohan Dennis, took control. These teams ensured that the lead of Honoré and Felline did not exceed 4:30. Alpecin-Deceuninck later took the initiative to make the gap even smaller.
There was no fight for the mountain and sprint points at the front. Behind; Luke Plapp took the final mountain point at Norton Summit, while Groves took third in both intermediate sprints. Groves took 2 bonus seconds and moved (virtually) to 5th place. However, there were two more climbs: Checker Hill (1.1km at 9.4%) and Corkscrew Road. Just before Checker Hill, at 36 kilometres from the finish, two riders of Astana Qazaqstan crashed. Leonardo Basso was able to continue, but Gianni Moscon looked to have come off worse. Meanwhile, the lead of the two had been reduced to less than 1 minute. On Checker Hill itself, Honoré dropped Felline, who was caught by the peloton at the top.
Jai Hindley increased the pace in the peloton, but that didn’t have any consequences. The riders who were dropped, including Geraint Thomas, were able to return. With 25 kilometres to go, Honoré’s escape was over. The peloton was now at full speed to Corkscrew Road. In the run-up there was another crash. Harrison Wood (Cofidis) and Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech) hit the road. Four-time Tour winner Chris Froome was not among them, but stayed with his teammate Strong and tried to bring back the 5th placed rider to the bunch. It didn’t work as the pace was incredibly fast to the foot of Corkscrew Road. While AG2R Citroën rode hard for Ben O’Connor, Rohan Dennis was quite far behind in the leader’s jersey. The Australian of Jumbo-Visma did not have his best day and lost contact. Just before that, UAE Team Emirates had taken over from AG2R Citroën.
Jay Vine went with another kilometre of climbing. Only Simon Yates could follow. Pello Bilbao had to leave a gap, but tried to close it on his own. The Spaniard caught them just before the top after Vine came up first. Three riders were now off the front. Vine put in an attack one kilometre from the line, but was only concerned with the general classification. The UAE Team Emirates climber was the best placed of the three riders. He would take over the leader’s jersey from Dennis and didn’t go for the stage victory in the sprint, the victory went to Pello Bilbao. The Spaniard started his sprint early and was able to hold off Yates. Less than half a minute after Bilbao crossed the line, Michael Matthews sprinted to fourth place.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious): “Yesterday we were a bit disappointed because the race did not go as we expected, losing some seconds at the finish line. Today this was the best for me, short and explosive kicks with the fast descent until the finish line. I had some difficulty joining Yates and Vine. I had to do my best and join them in the last 300 metres (of the climb). I knew I was going to have a good possibility, as they were also looking for the overall, and I was more focusing on making my best sprint and trying to win today. I really enjoy working with Neil Stephens. He really looks into details. It is a pleasure to do his home race and also to give this victory to him. He is going to be very proud of the guys who just did a perfect job for me.”
Overall leader and 3rd on the stage, Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates): “I love it when a plan comes together. I couldn’t have done that without my teammates who set it up for me, all I had to do was to go on the last hill so all credit to them, they did an amazing job. There was a big group behind us and we were aware they could come back so we put our heads down and really pushed on at the front. It’s pretty special to be here wearing the leaders jersey and hopefully take it home on Sunday. There are a few hard days ahead so I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch.”
2nd on the stage and 3rd overall, Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla): “I tried to play my cards today and Jay Vine was strong on the climb, so there wasn’t much room to try and make a move there. We had good cooperation down the other side, I knew Bilbao was fast, I tried to come around him and in the end in was pretty close, so I am a bit disappointed really. I obviously wanted the stage win, but that is how it goes. We knew UAE and Vine would want to take it up today, which they did, we were well positioned into the bottom of the climb, so we had no drama there because that was quite dangerous and then it was just all about what the legs had. Vine obviously looked really strong today and so did his team, but you never know until you try, so we will assess the situation with the general classification and take it from there. There’s still two big days to come so it is not over yet.”
4th on the stage, Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla): “Today was back to business and it was a good day for us. We basically stuck to the same plan as we would have today, if I hadn’t had the mechanical yesterday. Yates is obviously in great shape and this climb suited him really well. He took second on the stage and moved up to third overall, I took fourth and now the points jersey, so overall it was a good day for us, and we can see we have the form. We still have two really good opportunities left in this race.”
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Stage 3 Result:
1. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-Victorious in 2:48:10
2. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla
3. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco AlUla at 0:28
5. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
6. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) Trek-Segafredo
7. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8. Milan Vader (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
9. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën
10. Ethan Hayter (GB) INEOS Grenadiers.
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Overall After Stage 3:
1. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates in 10:32:50
2. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-Victorious at 0:15
3. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla at 0:16
4. Magnus Sheffield (USA) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:45
5. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:46
6. Ethan Hayter (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:50
7. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:54
8. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:58
9. Ben O’Connor(Aus) AG2R Citroën at 1:00
10. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 1:01.
TDU’23 stage 3:
After a wait of 10 years, Bryan Coquard won a WorldTour race for the first time in his career. The 30-year-old Frenchman was the fastest in the final sprint of Stage 4 in the Tour Down Under. Jay Vine held the overall lead.
Due to the strong wind, the fourth stage became a true echelon race. Jayco-AlUla and INEOS Grenadiers tried several times to put pressure on the overall leader, Vine, but the 27 year-old Australian managed to hold on. In the final of the 133 kilometre stage to Willunga, Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan were main favourites for the slightly up-hill finish, but the two home favourites were not involved.
In the long finishing straight, Coquard put in an early surprise jump that no one could follow. He had a slight gap that was more than enough for the victory. This was his 49th win, but only his first in the WorldTour. Behind him Alberto Bettiol sprinted to second place, ahead of Hugo Page and Paul Penhoët.
Stage winner, Bryan Coquard (Cofidis): “10 years ago since I’ve [been waiting] for this WorldTour win. It’s very nice to share this this team spirit with guys that think I can win, and I win so I’m happy. I know I’m very good in the start of the season, and a lot of them in really good condition. Last year was my first years in Cofidis and the most important [goal] is to win again and this year it’s clearly winning [at the] WorldTour. It’s because of that I came to Australia for a good season.”
Overall leader, Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates): “We should be okay. Obviously, anything can happened tomorrow, but the climb is three minutes at six watts per kilo, so that will be like 2 minutes 45 seconds. It’s not long enough really. You can’t do more than that to get away so I think it should be safe.”
4th overall, Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers): “I felt quite good today. My knee was a lot better. We were really pushing. I think we did about 50 kilometres an hour for the first two hours. The peloton split at one point and we had just about everyone from the team in that front move. It was really good because I felt like we were in control the entire time. For the sprint, we really wanted to try go for the win with Ethan HAYTER. I think, we had a pretty good lead out but unfortunately he wasn’t quite able to take the win. I was really happy with how I felt, especially after the past couple of days. I feel like I’ve made a step day by day. I think I can really look forward to tomorrow. I think we can be really happy with how the week has gone. We got a bit of a feel of what the bet the Belgian echelons will feel like later this season today.”
6th on the stage and points leader, Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla): “I had really high hopes for the stage win today, unfortunately the legs weren’t there, but we still believed in the opportunity to go for the stage win and the team set it up for me. We continued to drive it all day to keep the race hard and split it but I just didn’t have the legs in the finish to finish it off. Today we optimised the intermediate sprints with Yates taking one second, so that was a big positive for us and now he is up to second overall. We are still in the game, we aren’t going to give up until the finish line tomorrow afternoon. It has been a rollercoaster week for us, but Yates has stayed strong and kept himself in position to win this tour, and obviously that is our goal. We aren’t here for second place we are here to win, and we have the best riders around us and have won this race multiple times before as a team, so hopefully we can all get around Yates tomorrow and get him on to the top step.”
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Stage 4 Result:
1. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis in 2:53:41
2. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost
3. Hugo Page (Fra) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty
4. Paul Penhoët (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
5. Corbin Strong (NZ) Israel-Premier Tech
6. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco AlUla
7. Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën
8. Marius Mayrhofer (Ger) DSM
9. Kim Heiduk (Ger) INEOS Grenadiers
10. Caleb Ewan (Aus) UniSA-Australia.
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Overall After Stage 4:
1. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates at 13:26:31
2. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla at 0:15
3. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-Victorious
4. Magnus Sheffield (USA) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:45
5. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:46
6. Ethan Hayter (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:50
7. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:54
8. Hugo Page (Fra) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:56
9. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:58
10. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 1:00.
TDU’23 stage 4:
Simon Yates won the mountainous Final Stage 5 to Mount Lofty in the Tour Down Under. The Jayco AlUla rider beat Jay Vine in a two-man sprint after a stage of 112.5 kilometres. Vine made sure of the overall victory with his second place.
The Queen stage of the Tour Down Under was through the hills of Adelaide with Mount Lofty as the new decider. The first part of the stage had a leading group of 13 men. However, the leading group would not go all the way to the finish. In the final, after an attack by Maximilian Schachmann (BORA-hansgrohe), a new leading group of nine riders formed. A regrouping followed at 8 kilometres from the finish, after which a thinned out peloton including Dennis, Hindley, Vine, O’Connor and Bettiol would battle for victory on Mount Lofty.
Milan Vader was involved in a crash, and lost all chance of overall victory. After an attack from Simon Yates 2 kilometres out, only Ben O’Connor and Vine could follow. In the battle for the stage victory, Vine started first. Yates managed to get next to the GC leader and push his wheel over the line first. Vine had to settle for second place, but he secured the overall victory. In the final standings he had 11 seconds over Yates. The 27 year-old Vine succeeds Richie Porte on the honours list, who won the last edition in 2020.
Stage winner and 2nd overall, Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla): “I am ecstatic, really happy! We came here to win the overall and we really gave it a good shot, so I think we can walk away very happy. We had a lot of motivation to do a good ride this week, everybody has ridden fantastically. It was a tough day out there today, a short stage though and one of those circuit races around here that I like with a couple of laps around Mount Lofty. The boys were really great again and everybody played their part and I just managed to line it up there on the final climb and pass Vine on the line for the win. It’s great to win here in Australia!”
Final overall winner and 2nd on the stage, Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates): “It feels pretty incredible to be standing here wearing this jersey. The way the team rode that race was first class, the guys were incredible and our DS Marco in the car was also always clear and giving us good instructions. It was pretty hectic at the start of the stage, we really had to be on our toes but I had good guys around me, the team was incredible and they deserve it as much as I do.”
7th on the stage and 3rd overall, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious): “In the end I just did the last climb, thinking of the podium and trying to pull in the back and secure for the third place because I could not do more really. I really enjoy this race. I think the organiser made super interesting parcours. It’s a nice race for time trialist, puncheurs, sprinters, climbers and everybody. It is difficult to ask more for a race in just 6 stages. It is a nice race, maybe I will come back for next year.”
3rd on the stage and 6th overall, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën): “I was really motivated to get a good result on this last stage. The parcours corresponded well to my strengths. The team did a great job trying to make the race hard with a fast tempo. For my part, I felt that I had good legs. I am happy to have been able to be there on the last climb but still disappointed not to have managed to win the stage against Simon Yates and Jay Vine. I still want to remember the positive: it was a great back-to-school week. Everyone was strong on the team. We will have another chance together to get a win in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race next Sunday.”
Points winner, Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla): “Simon has been in great shape this week and it is just really awesome and really special to be a part of a team like this where everybody really commits and when we pull it off like this it means a lot. We all delivered to make sure Simon was in position on that final lap and he did it. We have had a bit of a rollercoaster week and especially for me personally, but as a team we did all we could and to take a stage win, the points jersey and also second overall, I think it has been a good week and start of the season for us. It has been really hard aggressive racing and it has been a real pleasure to race again here in Australia.”
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Stage 5 Result:
1. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla in 2:41:16
2. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates
3. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 0:02
4. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 0:03
5. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 0:06
6. Jai Hindley (Aus) BORA-hansgrohe
7. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-Victorious
8. Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) BORA-hansgrohe
9. Magnus Sheffield (USA) INEOS Grenadiers
10. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal Quick-Step.
Santos Tour Down Under Men – Final Overall Result::
1. Jay Vine (Aus) UAE Team Emirates in 16:07:41
2. Simon Yates (GB) Jayco AlUla at 0:11
3. Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain-Victorious at 0:27
4. Magnus Sheffield (USA) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:57
5. Mauro Schmid (Sui) Soudal Quick-Step at 0:58
6. Ben O’Connor (Aus) AG2R Citroën at 1:04
7. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Circus-Wanty at 1:06
8. Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo at 1:07
9. Gorka Izagirre (Spa) Movistar at 1:13
10. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis.
TDU’23 stage 5:
Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premi València 2023
Arnaud De Lie won the first race of the European season. The 20 year-old leader of Lotto Dstny survived a difficult final in the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana and was the best in the sprint of what was left of the peloton after 190 kilometres. Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) finished second and third.
The European road season started in Valencia, Spain on Sunday, with a race of 190 kilometres finishing in La Nucía. Five riders formed the first leading group: Mattia Bais (EOLO-Kometa), Samuele Zoccarato (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Iker Ballarín (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Mateu Estelrich (Electo Hiper Europa) and Thomas Denis (Go Sport-Roubaix Lille Métropole).
The break had a maximum lead of 5 minutes, then Movistar, Lotto Dstny, Cofidis and Equipo Kern Pharma took control of the chase. These teams kept the difference between 2 and 3 minutes, knowing that there was still a lot of climbing to do. The last 50 kilometres had the 18 kilometre long Alto de Bixauca with one section of 2.2 kilometres at 7.4%. The summit of the Bixauca was 24 kilometres from the finish, so there was a chance to catch any escapees. On the long climb it was Arkéa-Samsic, who pulled the peloton. Due to the work of the French team, Zoccarato and Bais were reeled in, the last of the early escapees. This happened 28 kilometres from the finish. There were still attacks on the steep part of the climb from Rubén Fernandez (Cofidis), Matteo Sobrero (Jayco AlUla) and Brent Van Moer (Lotto Dstny).
But they couldn’t stay away. Lotto Dstny kept the pace high for leader Arnaud De Lie, but the run-in to the finish was anything but easy. There were two nasty hills in the last ten kilometres where something could happen. Arkéa-Samsic’s Louis Barré tried to break away on the first of these, but his attack failed more than 3 kilometres from the finish. Lotto Dstny managed to hold things together for a sprint for De Lie. At 150 meters from the finish line, the Belgian started his sprint and won convincingly. Jenthe Biermans (Arkéa-Samsic) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies) joined De Lie on the podium. José Joaquin Rojas finished fourth for Movistar.
Race winner, Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Dstny): “The long climb in the deep final didn’t make it easy but for us it was a very good scenario. Brent Van Moer was present at the front and back in the peloton, we showed to be the strongest team in the race. In the final kilometres, we played it perfectly and countered the various attacks. We were always in control and then it was up to me to sprint. So I am really happy that I can reward my teammates with the first victory of the season. Of course, this win is important after a winter of hard work to be immediately ready for the first race. That I could follow on the long climb showed that I took another step forward. This victory is a nice start, but I’m hungry for more…”
Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana 1969 – Gran Premi València Result:
1. Arnaud De Lie (Bel) Lotto Dstny in 4:41:22
2. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Arkéa Samsic
3. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
4. José Joaquín Rojas (Spa) Movistar
5. Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën
6. Antonio Jesús Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
7. Gotzon Martín (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè
9. Victor Langellotti (Pol) Burgos-BH
10. Lukas Pöstlberger (Aust) Jayco AlUla.
Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana’23:
UCI World Cup Cyclo-Cross – Benidorm, Spain Men 2023
Mathieu van der Poel won the UCI cyclocross World Cup in Benidorm, beating Wout van Aert in an exciting sprint. The first Spanish World Cup since 2011 was on a very fast, dry and technical course. Eli Iserbyt finished third. Laurens Sweeck was fourth and secured the overall victory in the World Cup.
Mathieu van der Poel was the first out of the short start section, but he couldn’t make much of a difference on the fast circuit. As a result, the peloton was a pulled into long line in the opening lap. In the technical part through the woods, where there was a lot of stones and gravel, World champion Tom Pidcock put in a strong attack.
The Brit kept pace very high and took a gap on Kevin Kuhn, Van der Poel, Eli Iserbyt, Wout van Aert and Laurens Sweeck, the differences remained small. On the second lap, Van der Poel closed the gap to Pidcock in the woods, forming the break of four. Iserbyt and Sweeck where trying to hang on. The front riders held each other for a long time. On the fast course it was near impossible to take a lead. Van der Poel tried to get away on the fourth of the nine laps. The biggest victim of this was Pidcock, who had to unload at Van Aert, Iserbyt and Sweeck. Van der Poel looked to be the strongest through the sand. He was one of the few who could ride it. The race seemed to be a battle between MvdP and Van Aert, but on the sixth lap Iserbyt, Pidcock and Sweeck came back to them.
On the long asphalt climb between the two city parks, Van Aert tried to get a gap on the seventh lap. Van der Poel had to give it everything to close the gap and succeeded. He almost fell on the sandy, but managed to stay upright. Van Aert and Van der Poel started the penultimate lap together. The two top favourites eased off the gas a little, allowing Sweeck to close the gap and Iserbyt to get close. The World Cup leader got away for a while, but at the bell, the four were back together. This was the time for Van Aert to give it his all. He put the rest under full pressure, but Van der Poel didn’t crack and came back at the Belgian.
Van Aert took the lead in the technical part through the woods, but with some risk, Van der Poel jumped past on the stones and gravel. Iserbyt and Sweeck had to leave a gap and watch Van der Poel and Van Aert head towards a strint finish. The Dutchman took the lead and forced Van Aert to have to pass him in an impossibly short sprint. The Jumbo-Visma even had to ride the barrier so as not to crash and couldn’t get past Van der Poel.
Race winner, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck): “The back felt much better than the previous races. Winning is always very nice. It was a nice race, but also quite dangerous and slippery because of all the sand and gravel. That made it difficult to ride. But it ended up being a great battle with Wout. I’m very happy to win here. For me it was important to be at the front with the bars, because after that it was very difficult to overtake. The sprint was also very short. It was a very good race. I am very happy with this victory. Physically I feel good. My back felt much better than previous races, and I was able to go really deep. That was necessary to win.”
2nd, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma): “I’m glad I didn’t crash in the sprint, but also disappointed that I didn’t win. I knew that the lead was crucial for the victory. I am also disappointed with my tactics. I had to go all in on the last lap to the last park and then keep the lead there. But now I was mainly focused on staying in front instead of keeping the pace too high. He passed me in the park and I couldn’t make up for it.”
4th, Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Fristads): “I did what I had to do today. I am also satisfied with my race. I had some more difficult moments, but it was difficult to keep pressure on the legs all the time. They also noticed that in the front. But I’m happy with my race and that the loot has been won (World Cup overall). I was able to return once or twice, thanks to the circuit. Cross is never easy, but there are more difficult tracks than this. I think you can measure something a bit, but the differences are going to be a bit bigger there. Now the differences between the top 5 were small, but the better ones will emerge faster. I think I can do well everywhere this year.”
UCI World Cup Cyclo-Cross – Benidorm, Spain Men Result:
1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck in 1:00:00
2. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
3. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:09
4. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 0:20
5. Tom Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers at 0:34
6. Kevin Kuhn (Sui) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team at 0:56
7. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 1:11
8. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 1:14
9. Felipe Orts (Spa) Burgos-BH at 1:17
10. Gerben Kuypers (Bel) Proximus-AlphaMotorhomes-Doltcini CT at 1:22.
UCI World Cup Cyclo-Cross – Benidorm, Spain Women 2023
The Benidorm World Cup race for women was won by Fem van Empel. The Jumbo-Visma European champion was the first across the finish line after an exciting battle with Puck Pieterse, Shirin van Anrooij and Silvia Persico.
The fastest start in Benidorm was for Fem van Empel, who was followed by Dutch champion Puck Pieterse and Luxembourg champion Marie Schreiber, but the gaps were small. Shirin van Anrooij also had a good start and joined the front riders during the first lap.
Italian champion Silvia Persico also had a good start. She was the only one who could follow Pieterse, Van Empel and Van Anrooij. Pieterse in took risks and in the second lap she fell going through the woods in the technical part, but without a problem. The four kept a constant eye on each other, but in the passage through the woods Van Empel and Pieterse kept riding away from Van Anrooij and Persico. In the other park, where it was mainly on grass, they reconnected again. Behind them, Annemarie Worst was sitting in fifth place, followed by Lucinda Brand and Zoe Bäckstedt. Technically, Pieterse and Van Empel were better than the other two, but they could not exploit that until the penultimate lap. on lap six of seven there was a gap. They went into the woods with a lead and Van Anrooij had to pull out all the stops.
Persico struggled more, but reconnected at the start of the final lap. It was Van Anrooij who took control, but on a long stretch of asphalt it was Van Empel who made an attack. Only Pieterse could follow her. It turned out to be the decisive move. Pieterse came out of the woods first, but Van Empel took over the lead. There was some pushing here and there and Van Empel came out of the fight as the winner. She took the victory, ahead of the tired Pieterse and Van Anrooij. For Van Empel it is her seventh victory of the season in the World Cup. Because of her victory, she now has a lead of 45 points over Puck Pieterse, a deficit that can’t closed. In the last round, next week in Besançon, a maximum of 40 points can be won.
Race winner, Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma): “I never expected this. I achieved my goal for this cross. It was a great battle with the four of us, also with Silvia. She was very good too. But Puck and I made it a fight to the end. I never expected this. Beforehand, my goal was to win one or two World Cups. I amazed myself every week. After my injury (concussion) and the National Championships (third). It was not easy mentally, but the people around me helped me well. That’s why I was really looking forward to this race.”
2nd, Puck Pieterse (Alpecin-Deceuninck): “It was a very difficult race. Fem and I made it a great race, only Fem was a little bit better. It was really cool here in Benidorm, especially with all the fans screaming. The course was like a street race, which made it very difficult to position here.”
3rd, Shirin van Anrooij (Baloise Trek Lions): “I had set the goal to win the World championships this year, but suddenly there is also the possibility to do that with the elites. Something I never expected. I have to weigh up how good my chances are of winning. Even if a second or third place in the elites is worth more than a U23 title… For me that is not the case this year. There is nothing more beautiful than the elite title , but it will be a tough battle. The course in Hoogerheide is unpredictable and therefore difficult. And the level is so close. I know I’m going to regret if I finish second or third in the elites. Which would actually be very nice. But will I also have a good chance of winning the elite title next year? That is again the consideration. I’m going to think it over and tomorrow I’ll make the decision. The good thing is that there really isn’t a wrong choice.”
UCI World Cup Cyclo-Cross – Benidorm, Spain Women Result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 52:47
2. Puck Pietrse (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 0:03
3. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:13
4. Silvia Persico (Ita) FAS Airport Services at 0:21
5. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:53
6. Annemarie Worst (Ned) 777 at 0:55
7. Zoe Backstedt (GB) EF Education-TIBCO-SVB at 1:18
8. Line Burquier (Fra) at 1:33
9. Maghalie Rochette (Can) at 1:50
10. Hélène Clauzel (Fra) AS Bike Racing at 1:52.
Exact Cross – Kasteelcross Zonnebeke Men 2023
Tim Merlier won the Exact Cross in Zonnebeke. After a race that remained exciting for a long time, the Soudal Quick-Step rider made his move in the penultimate lap. Ryan Kamp finished second, David van der Poel was third.
Lander Loockx got off to a good start. He took the initiative in the first of nine laps. Lennert Belmans followed suit, while Kamp, Baestaens, Soete, Van der Poel and Merlier were not far behind. Loockx rode alone for a while, but three riders joined him on the second lap: Kamp, Soete and eventually Merlier. For a leading group of four.
Loockx and Kamp then briefly separated themselves from the others, but Merlier soon fought back. Subsequently, Van der Poel, Belmans, Baestaens, Soete and Anton Ferdinande also made the contact again. A crash by Kamp then caused some splits, but those gaps were soon closed. Despite the fact that Ferdinande and Baestaens dropped out for a while, there were still eight leaders halfway through the fifth lap. Then there was an attack from Kamp, which was taken over by Merlier. The sprinter made a split, but was unable to get away. Soete had already been dropped at this point, but the other seven riders still had a chance of winning at the start of the seventh lap. Merlier, Kamp, Loockx, Van der Poel, Belmans, Baestaens and Ferdinande would fight for the win.
Near the end of this lap, Kamp accelerated. There was a moment of inactivity in the chasing group, until Merlier took the lead. The Soudal Quick-Step rider was supported by Van der Poel, who closed the gap as Baestaens also joined them. When the four got together, Merlier immediately broke free. He started the final lap with a lead of 14 seconds. Merlier managed to hold on in that final lap to win an elite cross in his own country for the first time in his career. Kamp was second, Van der Poel third. Baestaens had to settle for fourth place.
Race winner, Tim Merlier (Soudal Quick-Step): “Then one lap everything went perfectly and I was able to make a nice gap. For the rest it was waiting and undergoing the cross. I had already tried once, but then I got stuck. There was always something. I also tilted my saddle again. Technically it just wasn’t right, I couldn’t do my thing. I tried to keep calm as long as possible. It was a bit of copying from the rest, to see how the good lines had to be ridden. I think I raced good lines, but when I accelerated, I couldn’t handle the speed in the corners. But in the penultimate lap everything suddenly went well. I countered when it went through. After that I knew: if I stay clear now, I can make a gap. That worked. In a corner, on the asphalt, I had to take my foot off the pedal for a while, but that was just because I’m not used to riding fat tubular tires anymore. But conditionally you have to be in order to compete for victory in the cross. Even if the field of participants is smaller, like here. So it does give confidence for the road season.”
Exact Cross – Kasteelcross Zonnebeke Men Result:
1. Tim Merlier (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step in 1:04:39
2. Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:09
3. David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 0:15
4. Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Spits CX Team at 0:21
5. Lennert Belmans (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 0:28
6. Lander Loockx (Bel) Deschacht-Hens-Maes at 0:44
7. Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Deschacht-Hens-Maes at 0:54
8. Daan Soete (Bel) Deschacht-Hens-Maes at 1:52
9. Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions at 2:14
10. Robin Alderweireld (Bel) at 2:45.
Exact Cross – Kasteelcross Zonnebeke Women 2023
The Exact Cross Zonnebeke was won by Denise Betsema. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider rode away from her opponents early in the first lap and then expanded her lead. Marion Norbert-Riberrolle was second.
There were few big names at the start of the women’s race in Zonnebeke. The big favourites were Marion Norbert-Riberrolle and Denise Betsema. Betsema quickly took the lead in the first lap and immediately had a gap on the rest of the field. Norbert-Riberrolle was the only one to stay close. Behind; Leonie Bentveld led a group.
Norbert-Riberrolle was already 18 seconds behind after one lap, Bentveld and the others followed at more than 30 seconds. After two of the six laps, the race looked over. Norbert-Riberrolle now followed half a minute from Betsema, the next riders were at more than a minute. The chasers were Jana Dobbelaere, the American Austin Killips and Bentveld.
Race winner, Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “It was quite a bit of pushing. Those mud strips were very tough, but of course it gives you wings if you are alone in front. It feels good to win again. I know that Marion (Norbert-Riberrolle) is very strong in the mud. I’ve seen that in the previous races, so I pulled out all the stops.”
Exact Cross – Kasteelcross Zonnebeke Women Result:
1. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 49:41
2. Marion Norbert-Riberrolle (Bel) Crelan-Fristads at 1:15
3. Austin Killips (USA) Nice Bikes at 2:43
4. Jana Dobbelaere (Bel) at 2:54
5. Leonie Bentveld (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 3:34
6. Francesca Baroni (Ita) Pissei Groep T.O.M. at 4:00
7. Joyce Vanderbeker (Bel) at 4:24
8. Larissa Hartog (Ned) at 4:52
9. Lotte Baele (Bel) at 5:16
10. Sara Sonnemans (Ned) at 6:00.
Egan Bernal has a Good Feeling in His Training
Egan Bernal was at the start of the Vuelta a San Juan on Saturday. The Colombian of INEOS Grenadiers will ride his first race of 2023 in Argentina. “I do the same training sessions as a few years ago. The feeling is good, so my prognosis for the coming year is positive.”
It has now been almost a year since Bernal’s crash training on his TT bike and 2022 was all about rehabilitation. “That was more difficult psychologically than physically,” Bernal said in a press conference in San Juan. “There were very difficult moments in the process. At those moments you wonder if it’s worth it to keep cycling. However, it was the best decision to move on, I was born to be a cyclist.”
“At the moment I’m not scared, but when I started training again, I did have some moments when I was anxious. Whenever I rode hard and went above 60 km/h, I always thought back to the crash. That is no longer the case, I think I have overcome it.” The 26-year-old rider does not only look back at 2022 with negative feelings. “I think it was one of the best years of my life. I have learned to be patient and to appreciate my family.”
In the Vuelta a San Juan, Bernal will be up against Remco Evenepoel, Daniel Felipe Mártinez, Sergio Higuita and Miguel Ángel López. “There are not that many mountains in the Vuelta a San Juan, but with the heat it will be a tough race. The most important thing is to enjoy it.”
How is the Colombian feeling? “It’s hard to compare to my form a few years ago. But the feeling I have now is similar to the one I had back then. I’m doing the same workouts and it’s going well. In other words, my prognosis for the coming year is quite good.”
Julian Alaphilippe Had a Good Winter and Wants to Put the Difficult year Behind Him
Julian Alaphilippe will ride his first race of the season on January 25, the Challenge Mallorca (January 25-29). The French former World champion hopes to take revenge for his less than good 2022. “Alaphilippe has had a good winter,” said sports director Tom Steels.
Alaphilippe will race in Mallorca together with Kasper Asgreen, Ethan Vernon, Tim Declercq, Fausto Masnada, Casper Pedersen and Florian Sénéchal. “Looking at our team, I think we can say that every rider has the chance to perform,” Steels said on Soudal Quick-Step’s website.
“Of course we look forward to seeing Julian in action again,” the Belgian continued. “He has had a difficult year and would like to put that year behind him. It won’t be easy, because even the easier rides are still pretty tough here. However, all the guys have had a good winter and are very motivated.”
Race Program for Julian Alaphilippe:
25-01 Trophy Calvia
26-01 Trofeo Port D’Alcudia – Port D’Alcudia
27-01 Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (Lloseta – Lloseta)
28-01 Trofeo Port d’Andratx – Port d’Pollença (Mirador D’es Colomer)
29-01 Trofeo Playa de Palma – Palma
25-02 Faun-Ardèche Classic
26-02 Faun Drome Classic
04-03 Strade Bianche
06-03 – 12-03 Tirreno-Adriatico
02-04 Tour of Flanders
16-04 Amstel Gold Race
19-04 La Flèche Wallonne
01-07 – 23-07 Tour de France
Julian Alaphilippe looking forward to 2023:
Geraint Thomas to Soon Make a Decision on His Future
Geraint Thomas still has a contract with INEOS Grenadiers until the end of 2023, but will the 36 year-old Briton be in the peloton after that?
“I think I will decide on my future in March. If 2023 is really my last season, I want to enjoy it and get the best out of myself. I still need to talk about it with my family. It is essential that they support me. The team would like to continue and I honestly don’t see myself racing anywhere else. I am already talking to team boss Rod Ellingworth, but of course it also depends on my salary, expectations and role within the team.”
“I do not rule out that I will also be seen in the peloton in 2024,” Thomas said to Cyclingnews recently. “I still enjoy the race. Let’s face it, it’s certainly not a bad life. Why would I stop my career then, especially since I am still competitive. I should have already decided in December, but I prefer to take a little more time.”
Thomas, who is once again focusing on the Giro d’Italia this year, was the overall winner of the Tour of Switzerland last year. He also showed his best in the Tour de France. The experienced Tour rider finished third in Paris, behind overall winner Jonas Vingegaard and runner-up Tadej Pogačar. Thomas is currently in Australia for the Tour Down Under, his first race of the new season.
Thomas to race on?
Mark Cavendish to Start Season with the Tour of Oman and UAE Tour
Mark Cavendish will ride his first races for Astana Qazaqstan in February. The 37 year-old will debut in the Tour of Oman (February 10-14) and then contest the UAE Tour (February 20-26). Astana Qazaqstan confirmed to VeloNews. Stefan Zanini, DS with the Kazakh team, also talked about the plans for the British rider.
“It is an honour to have a rider like Mark in our team,” said Stefan Zanini. “The team will make a sprint train to support Mark. It is a new challenge for the team, but we are determined to do it. Mark is very motivated and he will raise the level of everyone, both the riders and the staff. We have riders to support him. Everyone believes that Mark will win a lot of races.”
According to Zanini, Astana Qazaqstan, including Martin Laas, Davide Martinelli and Yevgeniy Fedorov, the U23 world champion, has suitable riders to assist Cavendish and Cees Bol. “We want to give him (Cavendish) the best possible support so that he can do the things he has always done. It is important for us to build that train so that he can start the races in the best possible way.”
“We have a group of riders who can help him. It’s normal if it takes a little time to find the right feeling. The team has a history of riding Grand Tours. That’s how it is right now, but everyone is very, very motivated with a great champion like him on the team. The train will be fine and I believe we can drop Cavendish off at the finish line.”
Mark Cavendish’s Race Schedule (so far):
10-02 – 14-02 Tour of Oman
20-02 – 26-02 UAE Tour
01-07 – 23-07 Tour de France.
Cavendish starts for Astana in Oman:
Christophe Moreau Arrested for Domestic Violence
Christophe Moreau was arrested in Switzerland last Sunday for domestic violence. The 51 year-old former cyclist is in pre-trial detention, according to Swiss media Blick.
According to Swiss media, Moreau threatened to kill his wife, from whom he recently divorced, and daughters. The Frenchman was under the influence of alcohol during the arrest. Several shotguns were seized.
Moreau was one of the better French cyclists of his generation. In his career, he won the Critérium du Dauphiné twice, the Four Days of Dunkirk, the GP du Midi-Libre stage race and was 2006 French road champion.
Moreau also finished four times in the top ten on GC in the Tour de France, with a fourth place in the 2000 Tour. In the 2001 Tour he wore the yellow jersey for two days after winning the prologue in Dunkirk. Moreau moved to Switzerland after his retirement and became manager of the Philippe Wagner amateur team.
Christophe Moreau in better times:
Quintana Not Going to Corratec
Nairo Quintana, who is still without a team, was linked with Corratec last week. However, Italian ProTeam manager Serge Parsani said in conversation with Mundo Ciclístico Magazine that it is unlikely that the Colombian will join him next year. “At the moment we can’t get Nairo Quintana, only a miracle would make it possible,” he said.
Parsani also denies that there have been talks between Quintana and Corratec. The team has been given a wildcard for the Giro d’Italia. “The Quintana representatives have checked with our team if we would be interested in hiring him, but we are a small team. We don’t have the financial means for someone like him and there are also many obstacles, so we didn’t continue the conversation.”
At sponsor level, there is no possibility to attract Quintana, says Parsani, because Corratec became a member of the MPCC (Movement for Clean Cycling) at the end of December. This organisation fights against the use of drugs such as tramadol. “The ASO has asked us to join this organization and so it is very difficult to make a commitment with Nairo at the moment.”
“The UCI should lend a hand to Nairo to get him into a WorldTour team because we are all in the MPCC. Only teams such as Soudal Quick-Step, UAE Team Emirates and some others that are not affiliated can attract him. Anyway, there is no one who can refuse him to race, because he is not suspended by the UCI.”
No Quintana to Corratec:
Bingoal Takes Bas Tietema to Court and Demands Compensation
The Belgian gambling company Bingoal has taken Bas Tietema and his company Tour de Tietema BV to court, reports the Algemeen Dagblad. The two parties were partners in the past, but Tietema has now set up a new cycling team: Tour de Tietema-Unibet. Bingoal believes that their collaboration has been unlawfully terminated.
According to Bingoal, there is still a co-operation agreement with Tietema (who raced for Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB last year) and the company. If the agreement is not continued this year, Bingoal is demanding a ‘substantial’ compensation. The provider of various gambling games speaks of a breach of contract. The new sponsor Tietema is working with, Unibet, is also a competitor of Bingoal.
Bingoal will demand from the court that Tietema continues the collaboration and says goodbye to Unibet as the main sponsor. “We tried to work it out between ourselves, but it didn’t work out. Then we only have to go this way,” said Etiënne van Namen, the lawyer who is working for Bingoal.
Wim Geraats, the team manager of Tour de Tietema-Unibet, informs Algemeen Dagblad that the agreement with Bingoal has, according to Tietema, been ‘broken in a good way’. “We have a difference of opinion with our previous sponsor,” he continued. “We think we have acted properly and have prepared ourselves well for the summary proceedings. We are going there in good spirits. But we mainly want to focus on the training camp in Spain, where our riders are now. We do regret that this has to be resolved in public.”
Troubles for Tour de Tietema-Unibet:
Lotto Dstny and Uno-X Receive Wildcards for Volta a Catalunya
The organisers of the Tour of Catalonia has handed out seven wildcards for the 2023 edition. Lotto Dstny and Israel-Premier Tech automatically received an invitation to the WorldTour stage race. TotalEnergies too, but the French team has returned the wildcard.
In addition to Lotto Dstny and Israel-Premier Tech, Tour de France debutant Uno-X has also received an invitation to participate in the Tour of Catalonia at the end of March (20-26). The Norwegian ProTeam has also been invited to Paris-Nice at the beginning of March.
The field of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya is completed by the four Spanish ProTeams: Burgos-BH, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Equipo Kern Pharma and Euskaltel-Euskadi. The current eighteen WorldTeams are required to start.
Sergio Higuita Catalunya 2022 winner:
Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat Not in the 2023 Tour of Flanders
The Tour of Flanders will not cross Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat this year. Although the official route of the Flemish Classic has not yet been presented, Zottegem already knows that their cobbles are missing in the 2023 edition. “Like a bolt from the blue,” said Brecht Cassiman, alderman of Sport, to Sporza.
Because the Tour of Flanders will start this year in Bruges, and not in Antwerp, the route has been adjusted. Zottegem will not be visited on the way to the finish in Oudenaarde. Much to the dismay of politicians in Zottegem. “In recent years we have always been ‘Village of the Tour’ and this with great pleasure. The final of the Tour of Flanders often broke open on these cobbled sections,” said Cassiman.
The fact that ‘Flanders Most Beautiful’ is not going to Zottegem was already known within the city council. “In the end we had contact with organiser Flanders Classics who unfortunately confirmed this rumour. The start in Bruges would be the reason. One has to make a number of kilometres in West Flanders, so that no bow to Zottegem was possible anymore,” said the alderman of Sport.
“In 2024 the start will be in Antwerp again. We will certainly remain open to a new passage through Zottegem. We would like to see the icons that the cobbled sections of Lippenhovestraat and Paddestraat are gradually becoming again in the Tour of Flanders,” Cassiman insists. Later that year, Zottegem will host the Belgian national championships.
No Lippenhovestraat in Flanders’23:
No Oude Kwaremont in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Kuurne-Kuurne-Brussels will once again cross the slopes of the Pays des Collines in the Hainaut Ardennes this year. “We have found our new identity. And that is without the Oude Kwaremont, but with the slopes of the Pays des Collines,” explains course builder and race director Peter Debaveye in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad.
The Oude Kwaremont is a real classic among the cobbled climbs in Flanders, but that was precisely the reason for the organisation of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne last year not to include it in the route. Because the Oude Kwaremont can be seen so often, KBK opted for lesser-known climbs in the Hainaut Ardennes.
In the Hainaut Ardennes, in addition to La Houppe, the newcomers Hameau des Papins (1,200m, average 6.6%, maximum gradient of 16.2%), Le Bourliquet (1,300m, average 6.8%, max. 15,3%) and Mont Saint-Laurent (1,300m, average 7.8% max. 17%). “Last year we thoroughly revised the course and also made it safer. We have our own face with that. You don’t change what’s good,” said Debaveye.
The 75th edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne again has four cobbled sections and thirteen climb. The Tiegemberg is the first, the Kluisberg the last. Once the finish on the Brugsesteenweg has been passed, there will be another local lap of approximately 12.6 kilometres through Kortrijk and Kuurne.
With the exception of EF Education-EasyPost, all WorldTeams will soon be present in Kuurne. ProTeams Human Powered Health, Q36.5, Bingoal WB, Uno-X, Israel-Premier Tech, Flanders-Baloise, Team TotalEnergies and Lotto-Dstny will also be present. Last year the victory went to Fabio Jakobsen, the Dutch rider was too fast for Caleb Ewan and Hugo Hofstetter in a sprint.
No Oude Kwaremont in Kuurne:
Ster van Zwolle Continues Without Main Sponsor Craft
De Ster van Zwolle has lost main sponsor Craft. For years, the clothing company was the named sponsor of the opening of the Dutch season, but has decided to stop the collaboration.
“It’s a real shame that Craft is stopping. They fit the race and the city,” said organiser Thijs Rondhuis. According to him, the departure of Craft will not affect the 2023 edition, because there has been a permanent group of sponsors for a long time. “And the previous board left behind a healthy foundation. From the new board we make good use of existing networks and we have managed to bind new names to us in addition to existing ones.”
The 62nd edition of the Ster van Zwolle will be organised on Saturday 4 March. Last year the race was canceled due to the health situation of race organiser Jan van Ommen, who passed away later that month. As a result, Coen Vermeltfoort is the last winner in 2021.
Coen Vermeltfoort – winner in 2021:
Pierre Barbier Joins CIC U Nantes Atlantique
Last year the Barbiers were in the WorldTour and the ProTour, but not this year. Rudy Barbier (30) took a step back from Israel-Premier Tech to St Michel-Mavic-Auber 93, his younger brother Pierre Barbier (25) moves from B&B Hotels-KTM to CIC U Nantes Atlantique.
Both Barbiers will now race at Continental level in 2023. CIC U Nantes Atlantique was for many years at the highest amateur level, but has been riding on a Continental license since last year. With Pierre Barbier, it has brought in a sprinter who is still waiting for his first professional victory.
The youngest Barbier broke through at Roubaix Lille Métropole and turned professional with Nippo-Delko One Provence in 2020. After two years with that ProTeam, he switched to B&B Hotels-KTM, which ceased to exist at the end of 2022. As a result, the sprinter was without a team. With CIC U Nantes Atlantique he can still race in many French races and often with his brother Rudy.
Pierre Barbier to CIC U Nantes Atlantique:
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