PezCycling News - What's Cool In Pro Cycling : EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!

Eurotrash
EUROTRASH News Round Up Monday!
A good and bad weekend for Sky - Michal Kwiatkowski wins Milano-Sanremo and more scandal. All the news from la Primavera, Handzame and Alfredo Binda with reports, results, rider quotes and video. Ex-Sky rider admits injecting - Top Story. In other cycling news: Teams look ahead to Volta a Catalunya and cobbled classics, Tour of the Alps and the Critérium du Dauphiné returns to the Alpe d'Huez. Monday EUROTRASH coffee time.

TOP STORY: Edmondson Admits he Injected Himself at Sky
Ex-Sky rider, Josh Edmondson admitted in an interview with the BBC on Thursday that he bought and used injection equipment and vitamins in 2014 when riding for the team. He also claimed that the team covered up his needle use, which is against UCI rules. The team said that Edmondson had told them he had not used the syringes and that the rider was very depressed at the time and it was more important to care for the rider than point the finger at someone in a vulnerable state of mind.

Edmondson said that he bought the vitamins and syringes in Italy in 2014 and injected himself two or three times a week in the build up to the Vuelta a España. Injections must be reported to the UCI within 24 hours. There is an eight day to six month suspension for a first offense and six months to life for a second infringement.

Sky doctor, Steve Peters told the BBC that he had not reported incident due to his worry over the mental health of Edmondson, saying: "What is the consequence of him suddenly being exposed if I'm right and he's not well? The reason I stopped it in its tracks is my concern for the welfare of the individual." Edmondson also admitted that he had been taking tramadol, which can be a cause of depression. Edmondson had not told the team about his depression or his use of tramadol.

If this is all true, you have to feel sorry for Josh Edmondson as he is the victim of the pressure he has put on himself to perform and his use of tramadol has exacerbated his mental problems.

Josh Edmondson feeling it hot in California:
Mountain High - California - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Edmondson Joshua (Gbr - Team Sky)  pictured during  the Amgen Tour of California 2014 stage 6  from  Santa Clarita to Mountain High 94.4 miles - photo Wessel van Keuk/Mark Johnson/Cor Vos © 2014



Milano-Sanremo 2017
Three of the top riders of the 2017 season escaped on the climb of the Poggio to fight for the Primavera victory on the Via Roma in Sanremo on Saturday. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) instigated the move and was the strongest of the trio, but at the line it was Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) who took the win from the World champion with Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) in third place. The bunch of hopefuls came in 5 seconds later with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) in 4th ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors), Arnaud Dèmare (FDJ), John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis). 2009 winner, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) finished at 5:24 in 101st place.

The break of the day slipped off after only 10 minutes, they were: Nico Denz (AG2R-La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), William Clarke, Tom Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-RusVelo), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Team Novo Nordisk), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia).

The leaders were only allowed a maximum lead of 4 minutes as every team wanted to be in on the inevitable finalé action. With 50 kilometers to go the break was catchable and Alexi Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale) jumped away from the peloton, but couldn't make it across as the speed had risen signaling the end of the escape.

Under 30 kilometers to go and the race hit the Cipressa. Wellens (Lotto Soudal) attacked, followed by Gilbert (Quick-Step), but with Van Avermaet watching the move it failed as Sunweb took on the chase. The Poggio loomed large on the horizon, Sky, Bora-Hansgrohe, Quick-Step and Tom Dumoulin for Sunweb all pushed to the front.

Sagan attacked and was clear going solo, but Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski manage to scrabble for the World champions wheel. Alaphillipe and Kwiatkowski take their turns to help the lead stay away as the three riders drop into Sanremo.Sagan is first onto the Via Roma and the other two leave him there as the approach the line. Sagan has to lead the sprint out and looks like he could have the win, but Kwiatkowski manages to stay level and then lunge past the Rainbow jersey for Poland's first Primavera. Alaphilippe third and Kristoff taking fourth ahead of Gaviria.

Full race report HERE and the 'PEZ Photo Special' HERE.

Foto LaPresse/ Gian Mattia D'Alberto 18/03/2017 Milano - Sanremo (Italia) Sport Ciclismo Gara Ciclistica Milano - Sanremo Nella foto: la gara Photo LaPresse/ Gian Mattia D'Alberto March 18, 2017 Milano - Sanremo (Italy) Sport Cycling Race Milano - Sanremo In the pic: the race

Milan-Sanremo winner, Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky): "After previous editions in 2013 and 2014 when I've been unlucky, winning Milano-Sanremo is an incredible feeling. I'm thankful to my team-mates, they did an incredible job today. I didn't expect Sagan to attack on the Poggio. After he did, I expected a bunch sprint but he maintained a high speed at the front. I felt pretty strong and it was amazing to be there with Sagan and Alaphilippe. I tried to focus to do my best sprint. It's unbelievable. I can't believe I've beaten Sagan!"

2nd, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe): "I gave my all today. My team did a great job getting me to the Poggio safely. Luckily we didn’t crash – that was really important, as it was very close at the finish line after I finished my sprint. I think it’s important for the fans to have a spectacle – everyone’s happy. It was instinct to attack on the Poggio – I tried and after I attacked I saw I was alone, and then Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe came with me. We descended to the finale and made it something really special."

3rd, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors): "Today, my role was to cover the attacks on the Poggio, because Fernando was our road captain and we were hoping to bring him to the finish in the best possible position. So, when Sagan went, I followed. I went full gas on the Poggio and had hoped to recover a bit on the descent, but we rode really hard also there. My legs were empty at the finish and I sprinted against two very strong riders, but I don’t have any regret, despite coming close to winning this beautiful race. I am happy with this top 3 and I hope one day I will be victorious in Milano-Sanremo."

8th, Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis): "There was still Julien Simon, Geoffrey Soupe and Christophe Laporte at my side on the Poggio. When the three podium men attack, I was about tenth place. Not many people could have followed them. Everyone was at it. There was nothing I could do. For the sprint, Geoffrey Soupe took me ideally but we missed Christophe Laporte who was on the other side of the road. I took the wheel of Trek and when they moved away I was forced to jump from a distance. In the last twenty meters, I had no energy, I had to sit back. I have regrets but it was for a fourth place, not for victory. I am pleased with my condition, I have managed to prepare myself effectively for this purpose. I'm going to the Tour de Catalunya next where there will be one or two sprints to dispute."

Attacker, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal): "We knew before the start that if we wanted to have a chance to win, we should not race passively. We tried to start up the race on the Cipressa. I was the first of our team to attack. I hoped to get away with a group, but the teams of the sprinters kept the pace too high. In the descent Tony attacked, unfortunately with no success either. Also on the Poggio it was impossible to ride away, except for the trio that did: they are on a different level. I could never have followed them, that’s why I decided to anticipate. From the past weeks in Italy I will remember my great début at Strade Bianche where I got third. In Tirreno-Adriatico it went less smoothly, but today I had good legs. Unfortunately the race developments made it impossible to benefit from it. Who knows, I might be able to follow the best in one of the next editions."

17th, Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates): "The first part of the Poggio was the key moment of my Milano-Sanremo, until that moment, my race had been perfect, especially thanks to the support I received from my team mates, they had been all great and also in the approach of the Poggio we succeeded in being in the front positions. Unfortunately, on the hill I got tangled and I had a contact with another rider, so I had to brake and I was overtaken by other riders. Together with Marcato and Ulissi, we managed to come back to the head of the group just in time for to see Sagan attack. I had spent energies and it was not possible for me to follow the world champion. In the sprint for the 4th place, there were so many pure sprinters with a lot of energy, since the average speed in the first part of the race had been low and everybody was still fresh at the arrival, I would have liked to be in the top 10, however it was too difficult. My goals were different from the 17th place, now I prefer to focus my attention on my next races, especially on the Amstel Gold Race."

Milano-Sanremo Result:
1. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky at 7:08:39
2. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:05
5. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
6. Arnaud Dèmare (Fra) FDJ
7. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
8. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
9. Elia Viviani (Ita) Sky
10. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott.

Sanremo:




Handzame Classic 2017
Current World Under 23 World champion, Kristoffer Halvorsen (Joker-Icopal), won the Handzame Classic on Friday beating British champion Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport) and Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) from what was left of the bunch.

The break of the day was a strong one, with Iljo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors), Jonas Koch (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mads Würtz Schmidt (Katusha-Alpecin), Alex Kirsch (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect) and Timothy Stevens (Pauwels-Vastgoedservice) all willing to work. But the peloton pulled them in with 35 kilometers to go in the 192 kilometer race.

Dries De Bondt (Vérandas Willems-Crelan) went solo with two laps to go of the finishing circuit in Kortemark, but he was soon recaptured. From then on the race split and reformed without any groups managing to gain much time. At the start of the final lap it was all together with Bora-Hansgrohe and Joker-Icopal on the front.

With 5K to go; Aqua Blue Sport came to the front for Blythe. It was not to be the British campions day as Halvorsen jumped through the final bend and Blythe and the other sprinters couldn't pull him back before the finish line.

Handzame - Belgium - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -  HALVORSEN  Kristoffer of team Joker wins before BLYTHE Adam (GBR) Rider of Aqua Blue Sport and DEHAES Kenny (BEL) Rider of Wanty - Groupe Gobert  pictured during the Handzame Classic cycling race with start in Bredene and finish in Handzame, Belgium - photo PN/Cor Vos © 2017

Handzame Classic winner, Kristoffer Halvorsen (Joker-Icopal): "It was very hard. There was crosswind, but the team did a really, really good job, and I'm so proud of them. We are just a Continental team on paper, but they are so strong."

2nd, Adam Blythe (Aqua Blue Sport): "It was good, but I should have won. I just messed the sprint up a little bit. I was a bit too far back. I was just coming at him with speed. I think another 10 meters I'd have had him, but that's racing."

3rd, Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert): "Today I proved myself. I never doubted my form, but the start of the season wasn't good. In Tour of Oman the results were quite bad. But I always continued to do the necessary training. In Nokere Koerse on Wednesday I knew it would be a mass sprint. But I was involved in a crash with 10 kilometer to go. I returned in the peloton with a few kilometers to go but then it was over. I could have been on the podium on Wednesday. Today I wanted to show the world I can still sprint. I know these races suit me perfectly. I knew it would be chaos with all the wind. But I was in front of the race from the beginning of the race. I went too early in the sprint. But overall I am very satisfied with my third spot."

Handzame Classic Result:
1. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Joker-Icopal
2. Adam Blythe (GB) Aqua Blue Sport
3. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wanty Groupe - Gobert
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
5. Andre Looij (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
6. Roy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
7. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Vérandas Willems-Crelan
8. Jelle Mannaerts (Bel) Tarteletto - Isorex
9. Davide Martinelli (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
10. Alan Banaszek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

Handzame Classic:




Coryn Rivera Victorious at Trofeo Alfredo Binda
It was a day to remember for Team Sunweb's 24-year-old Coryn Rivera (USA) as she sprinted to victory at Trofeo Alfredo Binda, taking the biggest win of her career and the first women's WorldTour win for the team in 2017.

Cittiglio - Italia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Rivera Coryn (USA / Sunweb) - Sierra Arlenis (Cuba / Astana Women) Ludwig Cecillie Uttrup (Denmark / Cervelo Bigla) pictured during the Women’s World Tour cycling race Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio 2017 (1.WWT) - photo Anton Vos/Cor Vos © 2017

As the race reached its business end Team Sunweb remained active at the front of the peloton making breakaway attempts and marking any attacks that looked like they could be decisive. After a perfect sprint preparation Rivera was brought into the last corner in a great position. The aerodynamics and stiffness of Team Sunweb's Liv Envie alongside Rivera's power meant she was a force to be reckoned with. Her explosive sprint proved too much for her opponents in the bunch as she crossed the line to take the victory.

After her victory Rivera said: "We had a couple of different cards to play today. Both myself and my team mates tried our luck in getting in any potential race deciding moves but it turned out that the race stayed together for a bunch sprint. We kept fighting to stay in the front group and it payed off. I was really thankful to have the support of my team and especially Ellen [van Dijk] there with me, she came back over to me at the last climb and stayed with me through to the end. She was instrumental in the finale and I couldn't have taken the victory without my team mates."

"All of our riders were still in the front in the last laps of the local circuit which was perfect," said Team Sunweb coach Dirk Reuling (NED). "On the last lap there was an attack from a couple of the race favourites and Coryn managed to follow that group, this was a good sign that she was feeling good at that stage of the race. More of us were up at the front of the bunch, which was great for how we wanted the race to go. Our plan was to lead Coryn out through the last corner and the team executed that perfectly, with the team delivering Coryn into the perfect position. It was a great job from everyone today and we are all really pleased to take the victory."

Trofeo Alfredo Binda Result:
1. Coryn Rivera (USA) Sunweb in 3:25:26
2. Arlenis Sierra (Cub) Astana
3. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den) Cervelo-Bigla
4. Chantal Blaak (Ned) Boels-Dolmans at 0:02
5. Cecchini (Ita) Canyon SRAM Racing
6. Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) Orica-Scott
7. Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana
8. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol) WM3 Pro Cycling
9. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Wiggle-High5
10. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (RSA) Cervelo-Bigla.

Trofeo Alfredo Binda by Wiggle-High5:




Cobblestone Classics Season is Starting
With the Dwars door Vlaanderen of Wednesday, March 22th begins the "cobblestone classics" season. The Team Bahrain Merida race in Belgium with a young and very motivated team and with two leaders who can reach significant results. "With Sonny Colbrelli and Niccolò Bonifazio" - says sports director Tristan Hoffman - "we have two riders who could be in the final. The others will be very important for helping the captain and also for trying to go in the breakaway. “The Dwars it’s a heavy race and in the past 5 years the riders come in solo or in a small group”. This Belgian race goes from Roeselare to Waregem for 203,3km. Many “muur” to climb along the route - as the new Kwaremont, Paterberg and the Nokergerg - with different cobblestone section."

Friday 24th will be the turn of the E3 Harelbeke 60th edition: fifteen sharp climbs and five stretches of paved for a total of 206 km. "The crucial point" - says Tristan - "is to be a front at the beginning of the Oude Kwaremont with only 40 km to go". Two days later, it’s the time for Gent-Wewelgem classic. "It’s the most unpredictable" - again the Dutch sport director - "with a very fast start and crosswind and echelons that could decide the race." The 78th edition includes 241km with three sectors of semi-paved road and nine hills. The super-steep Kemmelberg is the last one, crested with 35 Kilometers left to race.

"I like all three races" - says Sonny Colbrelli - "for what I have seen so far in Belgium experience counts a lot. That’s why I’m very happy to go back to Flanders and learn as much as possible."

"It’s the third year that I run over there in north Belgium" - comments Niccolò Bonifazio - "the races are like battles! You have to be very careful each moment, trying to stay always in the front. I like Harelbeke and Dwars."

Here is the Bahrain Merida Team line-up for all the three races: Niccolò Bonifazio, Borut Bozic, Sonny Colbrelli, Ivan Cortina, Chun Kai Feng, Ion Insausti, David Per and Luka Pibernik.





BMC Racing Team to Play Multiple Cards at Dwars Door Vlaanderen
BMC Racing Team will line up at the now-UCI WorldTour race Dwars Door Vlaanderen this Wednesday with different options at the start line.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said the race normally goes one of two ways. "Dwars Door Vlaanderen is a good warm up race for the Tour of Flanders given the parcours features many of the same climbs and cobble sectors. Generally, the race either comes down to a bunch sprint or sometimes a small group can be lucky and smart enough to make it to the line," Baldato explained.

"We will have Jempy Drucker if the race ends in a bunch sprint, and Stefan Küng is definitely able to jump in a good move that hopefully makes it to the line. Last year, we saw Greg Van Avermaet make a good move in the finale so anything can happen, especially this year with the additional cobble sector before the finish."

Drucker will make the most of the leadership opportunity. "I am really motivated for Dwars Door Vlaanderen as it is the start of the real Flemish Classic block. These are the races I have been training for all winter and as Greg Van Avermaet isn't lining up, it will be nice to have a free card to play for myself."

Rider Roster:
Tom Bohli (SUI), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Martin Elmiger (SUI), Floris Gerts (NED), Stefan Küng (SUI), Miles Scotson (AUS), Francisco Ventoso (ESP), Loïc Vliegen (BEL).
Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Allan Peiper (AUS).

Jempy Drucker:




Backaert motivated: "No more excuses"
On Wednesday the brand new WorldTour race Dwars door Vlaanderen is on the program of team Wanty-Groupe Gobert. Sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren does appeal on the following eight riders on the cobbles and hills: Simone Antonini, Frederik Backaert, Jérôme Baugnies, Wesley Kreder, Yoann Offredo, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Kevin Van Melsen and Pieter Vanspeybrouck. Van der Schueren and rider Frederik Backaert, 11th in Omloop het Nieuwsblad at the end of last month, look hopefully forward to the race between Roeselare and Waregem.

Hilaire Van der Schueren: "We have done everything for these races. I am experiencing a very good feeling of the riders. Unfortunately we were not present in Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico or Milano-Sanremo. That means a serious lack of race kilometers compared to our competitors, but we tried to close that gap in Benidorm. On Wednesday it is important to compare our condition with the peloton. "

"I count on four riders in the final part of the race: Backaert, Offredo, Vanspeybrouck and of course Van Keirsbulck. Kreder will assist Van Keirsbulck throughout the day. It is up to the other three riders Antonini, Van Melsen and Baugnies to be part of the early break. I'm hoping for a top 10 place, though I secretly dream of more."

"The new WorldTour status of Dwars door Vlaanderen means stronger competition for us, but also that our car is at the back of the row. That's a disadvantage if we need to help somebody fast after a puncture or crash."


Frederik Backaert: "In Nokere Koerse last Wednesday I did some pacing work in the final of the race. Afterwards I did some extra training and thus I reached 250 kilometers. The Classic Loire Atlantique on Saturday was a tough race for less explosive riders like myself. It was accelerating constantly, braking for a turn and accelerating again. It was hard, but a good exercise with regard to the Flemish classics."

"Also on training camp in Benidorm we already did a lot of kilometers and intensive training. So the team is in good shape now. On Wednesday we start with a strong team. Now the real work begins and there are no more excuses. I feel good, but the real top form hasn't yet arrived. I have to reach top form just a little later and keep it till Paris-Roubaix on April 9th.Normally E3 Harelbeke, Driedaagse De Panne and Ronde van Vlaanderen are on my program after Wednesday."

"Last year I was present in the first group in Dwars door Vlaanderen. Back then I did some work for Marcato in the final kilometers. The increased level of competition because of the new WorldTour status of Dwars door Vlaanderen this year is no problem for me. In Omloop Het Nieuwsblad it was the same."






Sunweb for Dwars Door Vlaanderen
The traditional opener to the Flemish Classics week, Dwars door Vlaanderen this year provides an extra cobbled section to its finale. The parcours are slightly longer than last year's, with a route that covers 203.3km through the typical Flemish cobbled climbs such as the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont.

Team Sunweb coach Arthur van Dongen (NED) said: "At Dwars door Vlaanderen we aim to ride offensively and be part of the major moves throughout the race. With the strong line-up that we have on Wednesday we are hoping to be able to get a good result. With Michael we have the long-term plan to develop his cobbled classics’ capacities and gaining the necessary experience is a crucial part of this."

Line-up:
Bert De Backer (BEL), Roy Curvers (NED), Michael Matthews (AUS), Ramon Sinkeldam (NED), Tom Stamsnijder (NED), Mike Teunissen (NED), Albert Timmer (NED), Zico Waeytens (BEL).
Coach: Arthur van Dongen.

Nice - France - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) pictured during Paris - Nice - UCI World Tour - Coupe du Monde - photo NV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017



Quick-Step Floors Team to Dwars door Vlaanderen
For the first time since its inception, the Belgian classic will be part of the WorldTour calendar.

Three important cobblestone races are scheduled this week, with the 203km-long Dwars door Vlaanderen set to open the ball and take the pulse of the riders who have earmarked the northern classics as their primary objective of this season. A succession of cobbled hills and pavé sectors will ensure the process of attrition, with the “fun” set to start after 90 kilometers, when the peloton will hit the slopes of Nieuwe Kwaremont.

Over the next 60 kilometers, which include five climbs, the group should get trimmed down, thus leaving a reduced bunch to tackle the tough combination of Taaienberg, Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. The punishing gradients will take the sting out of the riders’ legs, and the ones who will get over this ordeal are likely to fight for victory in Waregem – the finish town which ten years ago hosted the start of a Tour de France stage – but only after they will leave behind the pavé stretch of Herlegemstraat.

The most successful team of the past decade at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with four wins spread between three riders, Quick-Step Floors will once again aim to be among the protagonists and feature in the closing stages of the race which this year has been elevated to the World Tour calendar. Two-time champion Niki Terpstra will line out at the start on Wednesday, knowing a third success in the Belgian race, after the ones of 2012 and 2014, would mean an all-time record, as he’s currently joint leader together with 11 other men.

Quick-Step Floors will have several cards to play in the one-day event starting in Roeselare, the depth of the team being underlined by the presence of Tim Declercq, Dries Devenyns, Fernando Gaviria, who recently took his first ever top 5 in a Monument at Milano-Sanremo, Belgian Champion Philippe Gilbert, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar.

22.03 Dwars door Vlaanderen / A travers les Flandres (BEL) 1.UWT

Riders:

Tim Declercq (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Fernando Gaviria Rendon (COL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Iljo Keisse (BEL), Yves Lampaert (BEL), Zdenek Stybar (CZE), Niki Terpstra (NED).
Sports Director: Wilfried Peeters (BEL) and Tom Steels (BEL).





The ambitions of Rafael Valls for Volta a Catalunya
Monday, the Tour of Catalonia (Volta a Catalunya) starts, a seven days WorldTour stage race in the northeast of Spain. During this race, there will be not much time to recover since the course is riddled with climbs.

In the first stage, there are six official climbs on the route towards Calella where Bart De Clercq got third two years ago after a long breakaway. Tuesday a team time trial of 41.3 kilometers is on the agenda. Like the previous three years, there is a finish in La Molina, a ski resort, which is on for Wednesday. During that stage not one meter is flat. The road climbs steadily for miles before the riders summit the Alt de Toses after which they have to climb the Molina twice. The first half of the fourth stage goes downhill and it ends with a difficult finale. Fifteen kilometers before the finish the riders reach the top of the Turó del Puig (second category) followed by a descent until the finish in Igualada. Friday they finish uphill at Lo Port. To reach the finish the riders have to climb 8.4 kilometers with an average gradient of 9% with peaks up to 20%! Saturday the peloton is heading for Reus. Before they begin to descend towards this city, they have to conquer the Alt de la Musara, a climb of 11.6 kilometers with an average gradient of 5%. The Volta a Catalunya ends on Sunday in the capital Barcelona. The last part of this stage consists of eight local laps of 6.6 kilometers including the Montjuïc. This climb is two kilometers long and has an average gradient of 5.7%. From the top there is still four kilometers to cover towards the finish.

One of the eight Lotto Soudal riders who will be lining up for the start, is Thomas De Gendt. Last year, he won the fourth stage with finish at Port Ainé, which has no finish in this year’s edition. André Greipel is also participating. The German champion wants to finalize his preparation for the Tour of Flanders. Louis Vervaeke, who ended up as twentieth last year, 2’22’’ behind the winner Nairo Quitana, is also part of the selection. The Spanish GC rider Rafael Valls will also compete in his home country. Two years ago he claimed the eighth place in the general classification at 43 seconds of the winner Richie Porte.

Rafael Valls: “After the Abu Dhabi Tour end of February I took a week of rest, also to get used to Spanish time again. Then I trained a lot in the mountains to prepare for the Volta a Catalunya. It will be without any doubt a tough week. The race suits me well and for a race in my home country, I am always extra motivated. The Volta a Catalunya is one of the toughest stage races of one week because of its strong start list, its tough course and the intensity of racing.”

“The past few weeks I paid the necessary attention to the time trial because on Tuesday a team time trial of over 40 kilometers is scheduled in Catalonia. Then the first significant time differences in the classification will be made. I expect that we can set a good time with the team so I will not lose much time in the classification. This discipline certainly does not scare me. Wednesday we finish at La Molina, where I got tenth in 2015. It will be a difficult stage with a lot of altitude meters, but the climb to La Molina is not very steep. The time difference between the GC riders will be limited to seconds and not minutes. Friday it will be different during the stage to Lo Port. I have never done that climb but I have seen it on video. Together with the time trial, it will be the most important appointment for the GC.”

“The final stage in and around Barcelona is not to be underestimated with the sequence of climbs of the Montjuïc. It keeps on going up and down. The stage can still have an influence on the final GC. It is also a stage that always brings spectacle due to the many attacks. In 2015 I finished as ninth in that stage. It is a course that suits me and where I might try something, either to win the stage or to take back time in the GC. The best GC riders of the world are participating next week such as Bardet, Contador and Froome. I am certainly going to fight for a place in the top ten and for a stage win.”

Line-up Lotto Soudal:
Sander Armée, Sean De Bie, Bart De Clercq, Thomas De Gendt, André Greipel, Rafael Valls, Jelle Vanendert and Louis Vervaeke.
Sports directors: Mario Aerts and Bart Leysen.

Rafa Valls:




LottoNl-Jumbo to Volta Catalunya

Riders:
George Bennett, Victor Campenaerts, Stef Clement, Robert Gesink, Martijn Keizer, Steven Kruijswijk, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Alexey Vermeulen.
Coaches: Grischa Niermann and Sierk-Jan de Haan.

Dumbría. Mirador de Ezaro - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Gesink Robert (Netherlands / Team LottoNL - Jumbo) - Kruijswijk Steven (Netherlands / LottoNL - Jumbo) pictured during stage 3 from Marín to Dumbría. Mirador de Ezaro - Vuelta Espana 2016 - photo Sabine Jacob/Cor Vos © 2016 lowres



UAE Team Emirates and Meintjes in Spain, WT debut for Ait el Abdia
UAE Team Emirates is living the eve of the Milano-Sanremo, however the attention of the Emirati team is already focused also on the Volta a Catalunya, which will take place from Monday 20th March to Sunday 26 March.

In the team's line-up there will be 8 riders: Anass Ait el Abdia, Darwin Atapuma, Matteo Bono, Valerio Conti, Kristijan Durasek, Louis Meintjes, Manuele Mori and Przemyslaw Niemiec.

In UAE Team Emirates there will be a debut, the one of the Moroccan champion Ait el Abdia, who'll participate for the first time in a World Tour race: "Volta a Catalunya is another important step for me and for my cycling career. I'm excited for my debut in a World Tour race, however I'm calm because, as I noticed in the Tour of Oman, my team mates and the team staff members are all nice and they're ready to help me and to give me good advices. I hope to give my best support for achieving the team's goals".

Louis Meintjes will be the main climber of the team: "I had good feelings three weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, since then I trained with proficiency and I'm curious to check my feelings in the race. The courses of the stage will be fairly demanding, in the team there's a good group of climbers and I feel we'll be competitive."

Sport director Orlando Maini explained: "The long team time trial will influence deeply the general classification, so we'll try to build good performances day by day, with attention to the breakaways. It will be interesting to evaluate Ait El Abdia's debut in a WT event, after he impressed in the Tour of Oman, and also to check Atapuma's condition. For the most demanding stage, we'll rely on a good group of climbers. In the definitive line-up, Mori took the place of Ravasi, who's recovering from a light knee injury."

Louis Meintjes:
Adelaide - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Louis MEINTJES (South Africa / Team Abu Dhabi) pictured during  the People’s Choice Classic 2017 in Adelaide, Australia on jan 15 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017



BMC Racing Team Set For Competitive Volta Ciclista a Catalunya
UCI WorldTour stage racing continues for BMC Racing Team next week as a competitive eight-rider roster heads to Spain for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya.

BMC Racing Team will line up with a strong team in support of Tejay van Garderen, Sports Director Jackson Stewart said.

"With Tejay van Garderen set to captain at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, we're going in very motivated. He's won stages here before and has been in contention for the General Classification multiple times. I am also interested to see what Rohan Dennis can do here, and after his performance at Tirreno-Adriatico, he will also be a protected rider."

"Our first priority will be the team time trial, and then we will approach each stage as it comes but, I think we will have a strong team in the mountains. Van Garderen has won on top of Molina before and with Dennis' success in Italy, Ben Hermans' early season performances in Valencia and Oman, and the experience of Samuel Sánchez, I am confident we can be very competitive."

For Tejay van Garderen, Volta Ciclista a Catalunya is another building block as he looks ahead to May. "This will be a good opportunity for me to continue to build my form and get some more racing kilometers in the legs leading into the Giro d'Italia. It's always a tough week of racing in Catalunya but I'm looking forward to it, especially with the team time trial on stage two," van Garderen said.

Rohan Dennis is looking to carry his form from Italy into the seven-day stage race. "Tirreno-Adriatico went well for me, and I was happy to finish second overall but, now my attention has turned to next week. It will be important for me to recover well and this should hopefully improve my form once again before going to Catalunya. This will definitely be a tough race but the team time trial will be a big goal for us. It's 42km around the Banyoles area, and it could set us up for a good GC for Tejay van Garderen and myself," Dennis explained.

Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (March 20 - 26)

Rider Roster:

Brent Bookwalter (USA), Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Kilian Frankiny (SUI), Ben Hermans (BEL), Joey Rosskopf (USA), Samuel Sánchez (ESP), Tejay van Garderen (USA)
Sports Directors: Jackson Stewart (USA), Yvon Ledanois (ITA).

Tejay van Garderen:




Motivated Cannondale-Drapac squad ready for 'adopted home' race in Catalunya
The Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, or Volta Catalunya, is Cannondale-Drapac's next stage race, running from Monday 20 March to Sunday 26 March. One of the three WorldTour stage races in Spain, the Volta Catalunya is a brutal race that serves up plentiful climbing.

"Catalunya is always a nice race for our team. It's as close to a home race as we'll get in the WorldTour, seeing as roughly half of all our riders are based in Girona, as well as the team's service course," Alex Howes said. "This was my first major WorldTour stage race as a neo-pro back in 2012. That year, it dumped snow on the queen stage and nearly 50 riders pulled out."

"Still to this day I think that was the coldest I have ever been. We managed to lock up the team classification that year [as Garmin-Sharp], with a strong effort from each rider — and we had an absolute blast."

The 2017 Volta Catalunya starts with a 178.9 kilometer mountain stage that starts and begins in Callella. There's no easing into things. The opener includes six categorized climbs, two of which sport a category one rating.

A 41.3 kilometer team time trial follows in stage two, over an undulating profile. It's back to climbing in stage three, with a summit finish atop la Molina. Stage four is mostly downhill, with a start in Llívia and a finish in Igualada and two small climbs along the way.

Stages five and six take the race to an area in Catalunya that typically hasn't featured in the race route as the peloton travels south of Barcelona. Stage five finishes atop Lo Port de Tortosa, and stage six covers three category three climbs and the Alt de la Mussara (category one) at 30 kilometers from the finish line. The race finishes traditionally with a hilly stage that includes laps over Barcelona's Montjuic on Sunday.

"The race is going to be dominated by the team time trial in stage two. With that in mind, we’re more focused on individual stages. We will go for the win in every stage," said Tom Southam, sport director with Juan Manuel Garate.

"We’re not ruling anything out," Southam added. "If we get someone close in the GC, because the race is going a different way than is predicted, we might decide to protect his GC position throughout the race."

According to Southam, there are two main reasons why this race is so hard: "It’s hilly and good riders turn up – like really good riders. It’s taken pretty seriously and there are a lot of climbs."

Howes mostly has his eyes on the middle stages. "I’m looking forward to the medium mountain days and the final circuit in Barcelona," he said. "With some good training in the legs I hope to be a factor in animating the race and helping Cannondale-Drapac represent on home roads."

Cannondale-Drapac for Volta Ciclista a Catalunya:
Brendan Canty (AUS), Hugh Carthy (GBR), Davide Formolo (ITA), Alex Howes (USA), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Andrew Talansky (USA), Davide Villella (ITA), Michael Woods (CAN).

Andrew Talansky:




Dimension Data to Volta a Catalunya
The UCI World Tour moves to Spain this coming week as the Volta a Catalunya gets underway tomorrow and finishes in Barcelona on Sunday after 7 tough days of racing. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka have a versatile team gunning for stage wins at this, the 97th edition of Volta a Catalunya.

There will not be a single flat or easy day during the Volta a Catalunya as even the stage 2 team time trial presents a significant amount of climbing. Stage 5 is the only summit finish stage though, where riders will tackle the 20km climb to finish in Lo Port. It will be on these two stages, stage 2 & 5, where the Volta a Catalunya will be won but it could certainly lost on any of the other stages for the GC contenders.

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka will primarily be on the hunt for stages in Catalunya but come Friday's tough stage to Lo Port, our African Team will certainly see what is possible. While Nathan Haas has never done the race before, his European base is in Girona and so the Volta a Catalunya will feel like somewhat of a home race for the Aussie. Lachlan Morton also makes his return to racing for our African Team and he will be one to watch throughout the week.

For those small group sprint stages, Kristian Sbaragli will be our go to rider. The rest of our African Team will be completed by our host of climbers, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Natnael Berhane, Daniel Teklehaimanot, Mekseb Debesay and Ben O'Connor.

Alex Sans Vega - Sport Director: "For Volta a Catalunya we have mostly a climbers team but also with a fast option in Kristian Sbaragli who can also climb well for the medium stages, similarly to Nathan. It is a race with a lot of climbing so I think it is a race we must be rather offensive in. When you see the level of the top favourites like Froome, Valverde and Zakarin it will be very difficult to achieve a GC spot so we must go through the stages and go for a win there. If we can collect anything else while fighting for stages, like the Mountains jersey or Sprinters jersey we will try to get that. There are a lot of opportunities for breakaway's and so that is where we are looking to take our chances."





Quick-Step Floors Team to Volta a Catalunya
The season’s ninth World Tour event will take place between 20-26 March, over a course which will favor the climbers.

The fourth oldest stage race on the calendar will run this year its 97th edition, which will once again test the overall contenders on two summit finishes, La Molina – where Dan Martin took his first World Tour victory in the Quick-Step Floors kit, one year ago – and Lo Port, which is set to host a stage arrival for the first time in 26 years.

Main news at the 2017 Volta a Catalunya is the return of the team time trial; at 41.3 kilometers, is one of the longest in race history, and should create some pretty big gaps in the general classification. On the other hand, its presence so early in the race, on the second day, means that the climbers will have plenty of opportunities to return in the game and make up the lost time later in the week.

Third recently at Paris-Nice, Dan Martin will lead Quick-Step Floors at the seven-day Spanish race, which he finished on the podium one year ago, thanks to his resplendent performance on La Molina. The 2013 winner will be joined by Gianluca Brambilla – the only rider to score stage victories at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in 2016 – Laurens De Plus, Pieter Serry, Petr Vakoc, and neo-pros Rémi Cavagna, Enric Mas and Maximilian Schachmann, all Klein Constantia alumni, who are set to race together for the first time this season.

“We have big ambitions with Dan, he already proved his form in Paris-Nice and we are confident we can get another nice result. The entire team is here for him, but with some stages suited to the skills of Brambilla and Vakoc, they too will have a personal shot at a good result”, said sport director Geert Van Bondt, who also stressed out the importance of the stage 2 team time trial: “We are aware it can play a big role in the final outcome of the Volta a Catalunya, so our goal is to be in the top 3 there. Two mountain top finishes will come later in the race, but if you lose around half a minute in the TTT, it’s going to be difficult to take that time back, so we’ll make our homework and give everything on that day.”

20.03–26.03 - Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (ESP) 2.UWT

Riders:

Gianluca Brambilla (ITA), Rémi Cavagna (FRA), Laurens De Plus (BEL), Daniel Martin (IRL), Enric Mas (ESP), Maximilian Schachmann (GER), Pieter Serry (BEL), Petr Vakoc (CZE).
Sports Director: Brian Holm (DEN) and Geert Van Bondt (BEL).

Cycling: Team Quick-Step Floors 2017Daniel MARTIN (IRL) /Training Team QS (Bel)/ ©Tim De Waele



Wanty-Groupe Gobert to Catalunya: "We are ready"
Monday Wanty-Groupe Gobert will present itself at the start of its first WorldTour stage race of the year: the Volta Ciclista Catalunya (Tour of Catalunya). Our Belgian formation will present itself with a group of climbers, led by Thomas Degand and Guillaume Martin. The group, under sportive guidance of Sébastien Demarbaix and Steven De Neef, is also composed of Fabien Doubey, Guillaume Levarlet, Xandro Meurisse, Marco Minnaard, Dion Smith and Frederik Veuchelen. Our climber Thomas Degand approaches the Spanish race with confidence.

Thomas Degand: "The training camp in Benidorm went very well. We were able to enjoy a good week to accumulate kilometers and exercise on hilly terrain. I leave to Catalonia in a good state of mind. All the days will be difficult. We will not see many sprints. From the first day it will be hard. We climb twice to 1400 meters on Monday. The third stage offers the traditional arrival at La Molina. I was able to finish top 20 last year over there, I have to aim for a good performance again. Then on Friday there will be another summit arrival in Tortosa. There are things possible for our team.

Guillaume Martin also has some good legs. And Fabien Doubey worked well during the training camp. The team is well equipped, it's now up to us to show us in the stages. We should not aim for the general classification, because that will be complicated with the long team time trial. This exercise risks disadvantaging us compared to the bigger teams. But this may also offer us opportunities on other stages where we will have to show ourselves."






The Tour of the Alps beauties live on Eurosport (and more)
One month to go for the Euro-regional stage race (April 17th-21st), formerly Giro del Trentino, that will benefit of an extensive live coverage in over 70 countries.

One month to one of the most exciting novelties of cycling season: the Tour of the Alps, formerly Giro del Trentino, that will take place from April 17th to 21st surrounded by the wonderful scenario of Tirol, Südtirol and Trentino. It will be a can’t-miss fixture for the cycling fans worldwide as the stage race will be aired live on TV and online streaming (pc and mobile) in over 70 countries.

The iconic Euro-regional event will debut on the international scale with a 1h30 daily live coverage and around 8 hours overall. Also Eurosport joined the panel of the rights holders, guaranteeing its Pan-Europe exposure (with the sole exception of UK, covered by Bike Channel). More leading European broadcasters such as Raisport (Italy), Equipe TV (France), TV2 (Denmark) and probably ORF (Austria) will display the race, whilst the EBU will disseminate the highlights in 60 countries.

In simulcast with the TV broadcasters, the race will be broadcast live on the web by Cycling TV (North America), Econet (Africa), Gazzetta.it, Repubblica.it, Corrieredellosport.it, tuttobiciweb.it and PMGSport.it. In addition, the LIVE signal will be spread on Facebook as part of the Ciclismo Cup, the Italian challenge organized by Lega Ciclismo Professionistico, powered by PMG Sport as host broadcaster and rights holder.

"Everywhere in Europe and worldwide Tour of the Alps will display a great show" – explained GS Alto Garda President Giacomo Santini"a significant achievement for the whole Euro-region and its territories, renowned to be among the most enchanting of the Alps. We are confident we will offer a superb event, enhanced by the best cycling superstars."

2017 Tour of the Alps’ Broadcasters List:
RaiSport (Italy), Bike Channel (Italy), Eurosport (Pan-Europe except United Kingdom), Bike Channel UK (United Kingdom), Equipe (France and French DROM-COM), TV2 (Denmark), EcoNet (Africa), Cycling tv (US, Canada, Australia), EBU (highlights, 60 TV Associates), Gazzetta.it, Repubblica.it, Tuttobiciweb.it, Corrieredellosport.it, PMGSport.it.

The Tour of the Alps will debut with a 1h30 daily live coverage and around 8 hours overall:




Critérium du Dauphiné 2017 Route: Back to the Alpe d'Huez
It all begins in Saint-Étienne. Aside from its passion for football, the city is one of the French capitals of cycling, having hosted the Tour de France 25 times, Paris–Nice 59 times and the Critérium du Dauphiné 24 times. The fireworks start on 4th June with a frenetic stage with three laps of a tough final circuit featuring the Rochetaillée climb. Sprinters may struggle here, but they will get the chance to make amends in the next two stages (Arlanc and Tullins) before leaving the stage to the power riders in the time trial around Bourgoin-Jallieu.



The favourites will rise to the top after the 23.5 km solitary effort, but they will also need to call upon their climbing (and descending) skills throughout the three closing stages. Right before the finish on La Motte-Servolex, riders itching for a fight will go on the attack on Mont du Chat, a climb almost 9 km long with an average gradient exceeding 10%. Riders should learn from this experience because the climb will also feature in stage 9 of the Tour de France from Nantua to Chambéry. The next day will also bring a scent of the Tour to the Dauphiné, with a stage finish on the Alpe d'Huez after a wholly new approach. Riders will take a detour via Col de Sarenne before tackling the final four kilometers of the legendary climb! The leader at the ski resort in Isère will not be home and dry yet, with the closing 115 km forcing riders to dig deep to defend their positions: it will be all up and down, starting with Col des Saisies, followed by Les Aravis and La Colombière, before the final 11.3 km ascent to Plateau de Solaison (average gradient of 9.2%). Pretenders to the crown of the Tour de France will have to show their mettle here.

Key facts :
Ø
The 69th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 4–11) will bring many of the Tour de France favourites head-to-head, pitting them against the fearsome Mont du Chat for the first time in competitive racing.
Ø The heart of the mountain trilogy which will separate the wheat from the chaff takes the Dauphiné to the Alpe d'Huez for the second time in history… with a brand-new finish.

Stages:
Sunday, 4 June — Stage 1: Saint-Étienne > Saint-Étienne (170 km)
Monday, 5 June — Stage 2: Saint-Chamond > Arlanc (171 km)
Tuesday, 6 June — Stage 3: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon > Tullins (184 km)
Wednesday, 7 June — Stage 4: La Tour-du-Pin > Bourgoin-Jallieu (23.5 ITT)
Thursday, 8 June — Stage 5: La Tour-de-Salvagny > Mâcon (175 km)
Friday, 9 June — Stage 6: Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes > La Motte-Servolex (145.5 km)
Saturday, 10 June — Stage 7: Aosta > Alpe d'Huez (167.5 km)
Sunday, 11 June — Stage 8: Albertville > Plateau de Solaison (115 km).

2017 Critérium du Dauphiné route:







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