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EUROTRASH News Round Up Thursday!
All the action from Oman, Algarve and Andalucia with reports, results, quotes and video. No Cauberg finish at the Amstel Gold Race - Top Story. In other cycling news: More cobbles in Paris-Roubaix, riders for the Abu Dhabi Tour, Sunday London finale for the 2017 Women’s Tour of Britain, surgery for Chris Butler, Tour of the Alps, new bike for Alberto Contador and video of Marco Pantani. Another fun packed EUROTRASH.

TOP STORY: No Cauberg Summit finish in Amstel Gold Race '17
The organizers of the Amstel Gold Race have announced that the Cauberg will not be so close to the finish in the 2017 edition of the race. To try and make it a more open race, the Cauberg will now be crested 19 kilometers before the finish line as opposed to 1.8 kilometers previously.

Race director, Leo van Vliet told that "by removing the last climb of the Cauberg on the course, we hope for a more open race, where there will be more contenders and the attackers get more chances. It is not the organizers but the riders and the teams that make the race. It is obvious that the Cauberg, which will now lie approximately 19km from the finish, will be less decisive.”

The 2017 Dutch WorldTour race will start in the Market Place in Maastricht to then ride three loops through the hills of Limburg with three ascents of the Cauberg, one time each lap.

2016 Amstel finalé:

Tour of Oman 2017
A year after a winning in Naseem Park in 2016, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) did it again on Stage 1. In an expected bunched sprint finish, the Norwegian beat Italians Sbaragli and Colbrelli to the line to capture his fifth stage success on the Tour of Oman. Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) suffered a crash during the final sprint. Kristoff becomes the first leader of the 8th edition of the race and will be wearing the Red Jersey on Wednesday’s stage 2.

143 riders gathered by the picturesque Sawadi Beach for 176.5 kms of flat roads for a long loop before returning towards the coast and heading to Naseem Park, just west of Muscate. After only 3 kilometers, five men managed to break away from the pack: Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport), Aime De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier Triestina) and Christophe Masson (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect). Not too concerned by this early break, the pack took it easy and the gap grew to 3:30 at km 20.

At the first intermediate sprint (km 81.5) claimed by De Gendt ahead of Fonzi and Warbasse, the pack had moved closer, still remaining 2:25 adrift. The second bonus sprint (km 49) was again won by De Gendt ahead of Fonzi while the pack was 1:20 behind. Guaranteed to capture the most aggressive rider’s jersey at the end of the day, De Gendt decided to stop his effort at km 146. Fonzi also called it quits leaving three men in the lead with a 1:05 advantage and 25kms to go.

As the pack moved closer to the leaders, a crash occurred sending several riders to the ground including promising Frenchman Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). Thankfully they all managed to move back in the peloton. With 10kms to go, the front three only had a 10 seconds advantage and were eventually caught minutes later. While all the big sprinting teams moved towards the front of the pack, stage contender Sonny Colbrelli suffered a puncture. It took the Italian and his Bahrain-Merida team mates a big effort to move back in the pack for the final bunched sprint.

On the final long straight, drama occurred as Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) was sent to the ground, thankfully not too badly hurt but bidding farewell to a possible win. Like a year ago at Naseem Park, finish of the 3rd day in 2016, there was no stopping Alexander Kristoff. Victorious of a stage at L’Etoile de Bessèges this season, the Norwegian captures a second success this season beating Kristian Sbaragli (Dimension Data) and Colbrelli to the line.

Kristoff took the overall leader’s Red Jersey with a 4 second advantage over Sbaragli and 6 seconds over Colbrelli, and also claims the points classification leadership. Despite being caught by the pack in the final moments of the stage, Aimé De Gendt was not only the Most Aggressive rider, but also the leader of the best young rider.

Stage winner and race leader, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin): "Of course, all in the peloton looked at us, as we were the favorites with me as one of the best sprinters, so we had to take control of the race from the beginning. Quick-Step Floors helped and later on also Sunweb. Our team did an amazing job. In the end they all contributed for the lead-out. We knew the finish from last year and knew that we had to come to the front a little bit late, especially because of the straight road and the head wind. We waited in the bunch quite a long time. Just in the end, with 300 meters to go, we hit the front. It was still tough with the head wind, but our lead-out was perfect. Marco Haller and Michael Mørkøv were the last guys to bring me to the ideal position but also Nils Politt helped a lot. I am proud of this team. Already in Bessèges we showed to have a good group. This is a great feeling. I hope we can continue this way."

Tour of Oman Stage 1 Result:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin in 3:46:29
2. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
4. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport
5. Sebastian Haedo (Arg) UnitedHealthcare
6. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina
7. Roy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
8. Benjamin Giraud (Fra) Delko-Marseille Provence-KTM
9. Sacha Modolo (Ita) UAE Abu Dhabi
10. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Wilier Triestina.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin in 3:46:19
2. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data at 0:04
3. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
4. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida at 0:06
5. Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina
6. Lawrence Warbasse (USA) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:09
7. Alan Marangoni (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini
8. Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Aqua Blue Sport at 0:10
9. Sebastian Haedo (Arg) UnitedHealthcare
10. Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Wilier Triestina.

Oman stage 1:

BMC's Ben Hermans put in a commanding performance on Stage 2 of the Tour of Oman to win the first uphill stage of the race and move into the overall lead with four stages remaining. The 145.5km stage featured four climbs and was the first battle of the General Classification contenders with a short but steep finish on the Al Jissah climb.

It was a battle for a breakaway to go clear in the first hour with the peloton flying at 50km/hr. Two riders, Mark Christian (Aqua Blue Sport) and Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), eventually broke away and established an advantage of more than seven minutes.

The peloton began the chase with 60km to go and the catch was made 20km before the finish line, which allowed further attacks to play out. Only half of the peloton was left as the group approached the finish, and it was Hermans and Greg Van Avermaet who were in the selection on the final climb.

Van Avermaet attacked with 1.5km to go, was then overtaken by Merhawi Kudus (Dimension-Data), attacked again, and then made way for Hermans to make a push for the line and win convincingly ahead of Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).

Hermans has a four-second lead on the General Classification over Costa and is six seconds ahead of Fuglsang.

Al Bustan - Oman - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme -   Ben HERMANS (Belgium / BMC Racing Team)  pictured during stage 2 of the 2017 Tour of Oman from Nakhal to Al Bustan on February 15, 2017 in Oman  - photo PDV/PN/Cor Vos © 2017

The Winner's Interview with Ben Hermans (BMC):
Ben, congratulations! How did the finale play out?

"We did as the team asked us. We had a plan to attack with Greg Van Avermaet and he saw his moment when we tried to just ride at tempo in the middle of the climb. Then he countered Kudus but Kudus was really explosive and fast, so when I saw Greg came back I tried. It was still 300m to go but I knew I would only have one chance if I made it a very long sprint and not too explosive, and it worked out well."

Were you targeting this stage in particular?
"I wasn't thinking about the stage until yesterday. I knew the climb from 2015 when I attacked straight from the bottom when Tejay van Garderen and Greg were leaders, and I made it with the first guys on the top. So I knew this climb was perfect for me. But I didn't expect to win."

What are your thoughts on the rest of the race?
"It's a hard race. The next three days will be hard again and we have to be in the front all of the time. It will not be easy for the team to control the race, and now all of the other teams will look at us. We can't do anything else but control so we will see how it works out."

"The race has not finished today. I think there are 10 or 15 riders who are favorites for the race. The Green Mountain climb is totally different from today."

2nd on the stage and overall, Rui Costa (UAE Abu Dhabi): "The victory is always the main goal, however I'm satisfied with this second place: it demonstrates that my shape is good, even if it could be improved, and that the team can support me in an impressive way. Hermans today was the best, he was few meters ahead of me at the KOM and he succeeded in defending this advantage, despite my attempts to bridge the gap. Congrats to Hermans, however the biggest congrats are for my team mates: they were precious in helping me in the approach to the final hill. It is important to have a strong harmony and today we demonstrated our team spirit: we recovered positions in the bunch with the perfect timing for being in the front of the peloton in the early meters of the climb. That's amazing!".

Tour of Oman Stage 2 Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 3:20:49
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:04
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:07
6. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
7. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
8. Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare
9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Tour of Oman Overall After Stage 2:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC in 7:07:08
2. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Abu Dhabi at 0:04
3. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:06
4. Merhawi Kudus (Eri) Dimension Data at 0:14
5. Nathan Haas (Aus) Dimension Data at 0:17
6. Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana
7. Janier Acevedo (Col) UnitedHealthcare
8. David De La Cruz (Spa) Quick-Step Floors
9. Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale
10. Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R-La Mondiale.

Oman stage 2:

Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2017
A double stage victor at the Vuelta a San Juan in January, Fernando Gaviria kept the momentum going in his first European outing of the season, the star-studded Volta ao Algarve. The race began on Wednesday with a 182.9km-long Stage 1 between Albufeira and Lagos, a town which was returning to the race after a six-year hiatus, and the sprinters were expected to come into the spotlight at the finish.

Five riders made it into the day’s break, and Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team was among the squads to control the group which at one point had eight minutes in hand. The pack gradually brought the quintet back, with the last man in the escape getting caught inside the final 25 kilometers, as the tension began to build up on the streets of Lagos in anticipation of the bunch sprint which was going to deliver the first overall leader of the race.

Maximiliano Richeze moved to the front in the last kilometer and stretched out the peloton, forcing the other teams to pick up the pace. Fernando Gaviria – which proves with every occasion that he’s a talent of a generation – kept an eye on his rivals and decided to open his sprint 170 meters from the line. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) tried to respond to the Colombian’s fantastic acceleration, but couldn’t come around him, and at the end of the day Fernando celebrated his third win of the season.

The victory garnered several trips to the podium for the 22-year-old, who now leads three classifications at the 43rd Volta ao Algarve – general, points and youth – with Quick-Step Floors topping the team standings.

Cycling: 43rd Volta Algarve 2017 / Stage 1 Arrival /  Fernando GAVIRIA (COL) Celebration / Andre GREIPEL (GER)/ Nacer BOUHANNI (FRA)/  Albufeira - Lagos (182,9 km) / Algarve  / © Tim De Waele

Stage winner and overall leader, Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors): "I am very happy, because I just came back from Colombia, where I worked really well, and this win shows this. It was a royal sprint, with some of the world’s fastest riders fighting for victory, and to beat them is really nice, especially as the wind was pretty strong out there. A big thanks to the team, because they were perfect and did a superb job today".

"Yesterday I made a bet with Davide Bramati, who promised that if I win a stage here, then I get green light to line up at the National Championships on February 26th. I’m delighted to have won this bet and get the ticket for Colombia. It would be a huge pride to wear this beautiful jersey at least once in my career and I hope it will happen this year".

4th overall, Justin Oien (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA): "I was right up there at the beginning when a couple of guys went away and I followed. It was a tough day due to the headwind but we worked very well together. I may have made a few mistakes in the intermediate sprints, but I still finished second in all of them. It felt really great to be out there racing again, opening up the legs to get that race speed feeling. I’m really happy with today’s performance".

KOM, Adam de Vos (Rally): "I’m happy to start the Volta ao Algarve off in such an excellent manner and claim the KOM jersey on the first stage. It was one of the objectives today to get in the break and take the KOM points. Once I made the breakaway, it was just a matter of making sure to seal the deal. It was a hard battle on the climb with multiple attacks within the last kilometer. I managed to time my effort well, and come around Pfingsten in the last 75 meters."

Volta ao Algarve Stage 1 Result:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 4:28:32
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
6. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
7. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
8. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Sky
10. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data.

Volta ao Algarve Overall After Stage 1:
1. Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors in 4:28:21
2. Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:01
3. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal at 0:04
4. Justin Oien (USA) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis at 0:06
6. João Benta (Por) RP-Boavista at 0:08
7. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNl-Jumbo at 0:10
8. John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
9. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors.

Algarve stage 1:

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol 2017
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took the leader's jersey in Andalucía after his success at home in Murcia on Saturday. Valverde beat his rivals on the climb and the descent and sprinted in to notch up his 99th pro victory on the opening Stage 1 of the Ruta del Sol.

Valverde completed a superb day of racing with an astonishing sprint that puts him back into the leader's jersey he claimed atop Peñas Blancas, on the final day of the 2016 race. After good team work by Movistar to look after their leader, good pacing by Víctor De la Parte and Marc Soler at the beginning of the climb, and an attack by Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) halfway up the ascent, allowed Valverde to show his good legs and go on the attack in the last kilometer of Monachil. The Spaniard continued his move through the early part of the downhill, where he was caught by Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Diego Rosa (Sky) and Contador, and then were joined by Sébastien Reichenbach (FDJ) and Wout Poels (Sky) as they entered Granada. The telephone squad's leader did not leave any margin to surprise and claimed his 8th stage win in the Ruta del Sol.

Ruta del Sol - Vuelta Andalucia 2017,Etapa 1 Rincon de La Victoria-Granada 155kmAlejandro valverde gana 1ª Etapa en granada

Stage winner and overall leader, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar): "We couldn't have started things off in a better way. For the time being, we've got a stage win - everything that comes after this is a gift for us. We knew that Contador would be doing well, and he showed he was willing to fight when his team started to take the reigns of the peloton without asking anyone to help them out. He played his cards and really made the difference, yet we defended ourselves well. When we were the two of us alone at the front, it was complicated to keep pushing because his attacks left no room to breathe. Plus, there was a group with three Sky riders pulling, which made it difficult to escape."

"At the end, I decided to give it a try myself into the last slope and I opened a bit of a gap, but it was difficult to make it grow and finish solo, so I chose to wait for Ion and Alberto, who were coming close behind. I was keeping in mind that I was the fastest into such a field sprint, and at the end it was a good result for us - it's the win that counts here."

"GC-wise, we don't have any real, strict goals. We're in pole position, yet our rivals are going to be really strong, and the next two stages will change things a lot. The whole route on Thursday is very demanding, finishing off with such a difficult climb. It might be good for my chances, but anyone from those who made the front group today can do well either. And then the ITT on Friday, which has only 12 kilometers, but it will be really hard, too."

5th, Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida): "It was an extraordinary and great race all the way to the finish, with Valverde, who took the best position for the sprint, a little ahead of us. I would really like to thank everyone on my team who helped me and Javier throughout the whole race and worked really, really hard for us and our team. I am glad that we are runner-ups in the team classification and it definitely gives us strong motivation for tomorrow and for all the stages of Ruta de Andalusia."

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol Stage 1 Result:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 4:02:28
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky
3. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
4. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky
5. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:05
8. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Sunweb.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol Overall After Stage 1:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 4:02:28
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Sky
3. Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) FDJ
4. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky
5. Ion Izagirre (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
6. Alberto Contador (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 0:05
8. Mikel Landa (Spa) Sky
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
10. Warren Barguil (Fra) Sunweb.

Andalucia stage 1:

2017 Paris-Roubaix: Some Cobblestones Make Their Return

Paris-Roubaix 2016 - 04/04/2016 - Reconnaissance du parcours pavé

Key points:
Ø On 9 April, for the 115th edition of the “Queen of the Classics”, the route the peloton will race on will comprise 55km of cobblestones (vs 52.8km in 2016), on the total distance of 257km between Compiègne and the Roubaix velodrome.
Ø The favorites are expected to stand out on the tranchée d’Arenberg, in Mons-en-Pévèle or at the Carrefour de l’Arbre… but early in the race they will also discover the Briastre (km112.5) and Solesmes (km 116) cobbled sections, which haven’t been used since 1987!

The opening weeks of the year have given the best riders in the world the opportunity to gradually get back in action, under summer skies in Australia or in the Middle East for example. All riders come into the season with their individual perspectives and ambitions… and some of them rack up the kilometers with the sole goal of starring in the Spring Classics. Scenarios do not necessarily follow the prediction logic on Paris-Roubaix, as was the case last year with Mathew Hayman winning at the conclusion of an early-race break away. While the key sections of the route are detected and carefully identified, from the first cobblestone sector at Troisvilles to that of the Carrefour de l’Arbre, by passing through the famous sections at Arenberg and Mons-en-Pévèle, arrangements have been made to visit or revisit some places that are likely to reshuffle the cards.

This year, immediately after the first stretches of cobblestone a change of direction will lead the peloton to the Briastre and Solesmes sectors (numbers 26 and 25), which haven’t been used in the race for 30 years. Route designer, Thierry Gouvenou details the characteristics. “The first is three kilometers long, it is actually being renovated but it is one of the difficult sectors. The next is a lot shorter, however it is uphill! It is not our wish to make the race harder at this stage, but to find more diversity between the cobblestone sectors and make sure these areas continue to feed the legend”. In total, the cycling acrobats will have an added 2.2 kilometers of cobblestones to ride over compared to last year, before reaching the finish at the Roubaix Velodrome.

2016 Paris-Roubaix:

2017 Abu Dhabi Tour Provisional Entry List Unveiled
World's top names in cycling line up for the only Middle Eastern race in the UCI WorldTour calendar. With eight days until the Abu Dhabi Tour starts the entry list is announced, with key riders’ extended biographies.

Many of the brightest stars in the world of cycling will be at the start of the Abu Dhabi Tour, the only Middle Eastern race in the UCI WorldTour calendar. 16 of 18 UCI WorldTeams accepted the invitation from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, including riders such as Nairo Quintana, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Steven Kruijswijk, Tejay van Garderen and Romain Bardet as General Classification (GC) contenders. Many of the world’s best sprinters will compete too, with names such as Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, Elia Viviani, André Greipel and Caleb Ewan fighting for stage victories.

Mas de La Costa 180 km - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Nairo Alexander QUINTANA ROJAS (Columbia / Team Movistar) pictured during 68th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana stage 4 - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2017 ***Spain out***

Top Riders Profiles
Nairo Quintana (COL - Movistar Team)

Born in Cómbita, Colombia, 4 February 1990, the diminutive climbing specialist Quintana has two Grand Tour titles to his name: the 2014 Giro d'Italia and 2016 Vuelta a España, as well as second places overall in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015 and the third step of the Paris podium last year. Nairo’s palmarès includes more than 30 victories, the most recent being the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

Romain Bardet (FRA - AG2R - La Mondiale)
Born in Brioude, France, 9 November 1990, Bardet is a climber and was second in the General Classification at the 2016 Tour de France, with a stage win in Saint Gervais-les-Bains. In 2015 Romain won a stage at the Grand Boucle in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne as well as the Combativity Award. In 2016 he was runner-up at Tour of Oman, the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Giro dell'Emilia – and would love to go one better!

Mark Cavendish (British Isles - Team Dimension Data)
Cavendish was born on 21 May 1985 in Douglas, Isle of Man (British Isles) and became a professional road cyclist in 2007 after some years as track specialist. With 11 victories in his first professional season he passed the record held by Alessandro Petacchi. After that, his palmarès has continued to grow: now “Cav” has won 15 stages at the Giro d’Italia, a mighty 27 at the Tour de France, and three at the Vuelta a España. In 2011, in Copenhagen (Denmark), he became UCI Road World Champion, and boasts one-day-race successes such as Milano-Sanremo (2009) and the National Road Race Championships. In 2016 Mark won the gold medal with Bradley Wiggins in the Madison at the Track World Championships; took the opening stage of the Tour de France in a sprint finish at Utah Beach and put on the maillot jaune for the first time; then won the silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. He also won two stages and the Points Classification at last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour.

Vincenzo Nibali (ITA - Bahrain Merida)
Nibali, born in Messina, Italy, 14 November 1984, is one of the greatest ever all rounders, being one of only six cyclists who have won all three Grand Tours: the Vuelta a España in 2010, the Giro d'Italia in both 2013 and 2016 and the Tour de France in 2014. Lo Squalo – the Shark’s – other achievements include two editions of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, the 2016 Tour of Oman, and the 2015 Giro di Lombardia. He took the overall General Classification fourth place in last year’s Abu Dhabi Tour and looks set to challenge again with his new team.

Marcel Kittel (GER - Quick-Step Floors)
Born on 11 May 1988 in Arnstadt, Germany, and a professional rider since 2011, Kittel’s palmarès includes a huge 75 victories, including the last two years’ Dubai Tour General Classification and Point Classification doubles, along with 14 Grand Tour stage wins (four at the Giro d’Italia, nine at the Tour de France and one at the Vuelta a España). Marcel will be looking to carry his scintillating Middle East form forward in his Abu Dhabi Tour debut.

Rui Costa (POR - UAE Abu Dhabi)
Rui Alberto Faria da Costa was born in Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal, 5 October 1986. Rui Costa is an all rounder with an impressive palmarès that includes the 2013 UCI Road World Championship in Italy, three stage wins at the Tour de France and three times the General Classification at the Tour de Suisse, along with numerous one-day podiums, and representing his country at the Olympics.

André Greipel (GER - Lotto Soudal)
Greipel, born in Rostock, East Germany, 16 July 1982, is one of the best sprinters of his generation, with a powerful physique which has earned him the nickname “The Gorilla”. He has won 11 stages at the Tour de France (2011-2016), six Giro d’Italia stages (in four different editions), and four at the Vuelta a España. André was first in the overall classification of the Australian “Tour Down Under” twice, in 2008 and 2010.

Fabio Aru (ITA - Astana Pro Team)
Aru was born in San Gavino Monreale, a town in Sardinia, Italy, 3 July 1990. He’s a climber and the overall winner of the 2015 Vuelta a España. Fabio has taken to the Giro d’Italia podium in both 2014 and 2015, and was runner-up in the General classification at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour. With Nibali’s departure, Aru is now the clear team leader.

Steven Kruijswijk (NED - Team LottoNL–Jumbo)
Kruijswijk was born in Nuenen, Netherlands, 7 June 1987. A talented all rounder, he held the Maglia Rosa for five days at the last Giro d’Italia and finished fourth in the General Classification with an amazing, brave performance – after holding the blue Mountains classification jersey for three days the previous year. Steven’s palmarès includes a National Under-23 Road Race Championships (2009), a stage win at the 2011 Tour de Suisse and the overall 2014 Arctic Race of Norway.

Victor Harbor - Australia - wielrennen - cycling - radsport - cyclisme - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Orica Scott) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakei / Team Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during the Santos Tour Down Under 2017 - Hansgrohe Stage 3 - in Victor Harbor, Australia on jan 19 - photo Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2017Caleb Ewan

Caleb Ewan (AUS - Orica-Scott)
Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 11 June 1994, Ewan is a talented sprinter who claimed 11 professional victories in his first season, including a stage at the Vuelta a España on his Grand Tour debut. Caleb is in superb form in 2017, having won four stages at the Santos Tour Down Under and was first in the overall Points Classification.

Tejay van Garderen (USA - BMC Racing Team)
Van Garderen was born in Tacoma, Washington and raised in Bozeman, Montana, USA, 12 August 1988. He is one of BMC Racing Team’s leading stage race and Grand Tour riders with two fifth place results at the 2012 and 2014 Tour de France and the White Jersey for best young rider in 2012. Tejay’s professional wins include the 2013 Tour of California and two editions of USA Pro Challenge (2013 and 2014). As a time trial specialist his palmarès boasts a Team Time Trial at the 2015 Tour de France, two at the Vuelta a España (2010 and 2015) and one at the Tirreno-Adriatico (2016).

Elia Viviani (ITA - Team Sky)
Viviani, born 7 February 1989 in Isola della Scala, Italy, is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the peloton, having claimed 40 victories since turning pro in 2010. As well as being a talented road rider, Elia also has an admirable record on the track: five gold medals in the European Track Championships (Points Race in 2012 and 2013, Madison in 2014, Omnium in 2014 and 2015) and, in 2016, the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games in the Omnium. He won two stages at the 2015 Abu Dhabi Tour and wore the Red Jersey as leader of the GC and was first in the Points Classification (Green Jersey). At the 2017 Dubai Tour Viviani’s 5th overall and 2nd place on the final sprint help equip him as a big Middle East stage-race contender.

2016 Abu Dhabi Tour stage 1 highlights:

Spectacular Sunday London finale for The Women's Tour in 2017
London will host the final stage of The Women's Tour on Sunday 11 June, as the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan helped Olympic Champion Katie Archibald unveil the route for the 2017 race, which takes place from 7 to 11 June.

The fourth edition of the world leading race will also include stages in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire and Derbyshire, plus a major new charity partnership with Breast Cancer Care to celebrate 25 years of the pink ribbon.

All of the world's top 15 teams will take part in the race, which is a part of the UCI Women's WorldTour, including the world's number one team Boels Dolmans, of defending race champion Lizzie Deignan, and Wiggle HIGH5, ensuring British fans can again look forward to cheering on the world's best riders. In addition the British-based Drops and WNT teams will complete the 17 team field.

The final stage of The Women's Tour will take place over 14-laps of the same iconic 6-kilometer circuit as used by the men's Tour of Britain, starting and finishing on Regent Street St James and featuring the likes of Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall on every lap.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: "I'm really excited that the most prestigious women's cycling race in the world is coming to the streets of central London for the first time."

"Londoners will be able to see their Olympic heroes and the world's top riders competing up close, reviving the excitement we all felt during the Olympics. The race shows our continuing commitment to London hosting the very best sporting events in world."

"One of my key priorities is making cycling safer and easier for Londoners of all backgrounds, and I hope that having the Women's Tour here will inspire thousands more Londoners to take up cycling as part of their everyday lives."

Breast Cancer Care is the Official Charity Partner of The Women's Tour. This specialist support charity has 1,000 places for women to cycle their Pink Ribbon Tour, completing 25km on the circuit whilst raising money for women facing breast cancer. Everyone will come together in support of the most common cancer affecting women in the UK and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon.

Samia al Qadhi, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Care, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be the Official Charity Partner of The Women's Tour."

"We only have 1,000 places in the Pink Ribbon Tour. Register now to turn London pink and cycle 25km through the capital's iconic streets to show solidarity to women affected by breast cancer."

The Women's Tour will begin in Northamptonshire on Wednesday 7 June, with the opening stage between Daventry and Kettering before the second stage includes Staffordshire and the city of Stoke-on-Trent.

Warwickshire will welcome a leg of the race for the second successive year, with Atherstone and Royal Leamington Spa the host venues, before the penultimate stage starts and finishes in Chesterfield, where Lizzie Deignan won Stage Three in 2016, and includes extensive climbing for the riders.

Speaking about the race, Team WNT's Katie Archibald, who won Gold in the Team Pursuit in Rio de Janeiro said; "The race being hosted by London is a fantastic opportunity for women's cycling and shows how far the sport has grown over the past couple of years."

"I'm excited but also nervous about the opportunity to ride The Women's Tour since it's one of the most competitive stage races on the women's UCI calendar. Riding for Team WNT I hope to make an impact on the road scene after a change of focus from an enjoyable track season in 2016"

Commenting on the route, Women's Tour Race Director Mick Bennett said; "Having the Mayor of London invite us to London for the final stage of The Women's Tour shows the status of the event, that just three years on from its creation it can be a part of the UCI Women's WorldTour and feature all of the world's top 15 teams. This year's route will combine testing climbs and beautiful scenery in the heart of England with the London finish, which will be an undoubted highlight of the sporting calendar."

"Counties such as Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Derbyshire have embraced The Women's Tour, so this year's edition will see yet more of the huge roadside crowds cheering on the world's best."

Commenting on the launch of the 2017 edition of The Women's Tour, Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of race organizers SweetSpot Group said; "We have a fantastic field of the world's best teams, a testing route with an iconic finale in the heart of the world's foremost city and a very important and entirely fitting partnership with Breast Cancer Care. After three editions The Women's Tour continues to grow and go from strength-to-strength, but to take the event on to the next level we are seeking a title partner to cement our position as the world's leading women's race."

While the Yellow Jersey currently remains unsponsored, Wiggle will proudly add to their support of women's pro cycling with riders fighting for the Wiggle Points Jersey, awarded to the race's most consistent finisher, while Adnams will continue as sponsors of the Best British Rider Jersey. Leading non-alcoholic wine brand Eisberg will be sponsor of the intermediate sprints while a new sponsor for the Queen of the Mountains classification will be announced in the coming days.

A one-hour highlights program of every stage will be broadcast daily on ITV4 and available on demand via the ITV Hub. The Women's Tour is a part of the UCI Women's WorldTour, comprising 20 events around the world in 10 different countries.

Further details of the stages of The Women's Tour will be announced over the coming weeks, including the locations of the Queen of the Mountain climbs and Eisberg Sprints for each day.

Amateur cyclists will also be able to get on their bikes in Northamptonshire one week after the final stage on Sunday 18 June in The Tour Ride Northamptonshire, using some of the roads used by the world's best in the county. 40 and 80-mile sportive routes, plus a 10-mile Family Ride will aim to get people on their bikes to celebrate the race.

Stage 1 – Wednesday 7 June – Daventry to Kettering
Stage 2 – Thursday 8 June – Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire
Stage 3 – Friday 9 June – Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa
Stage 4 – Saturday 10 June – Chesterfield and Derbyshire
Stage 5 – Sunday 11 June – The London Stage

The full list of teams for The Women's Tour is:
Ale Cipollini (Italy)
BePink Cogeas (Italy)
Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (Netherlands)
Canyon//SRAM (Germany)
Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling (Germany)
Cylance Pro Cycling (USA)
Drops (Great Britain)
FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope (France)
Hitec Products (Norway)
Lares Waowdeals (Belgium)
Lensworld Kuota (Belgium)
Orica Scott (Australia)
Team Sunweb (Netherlands)
Team VeloCONCEPT Women (Denmark)
Team WNT (Great Britain)
Wiggle HIGH5 (Great Britain)
WM3 Pro Cycling (Netherlands)

For further media information, please visit

2016 Aviva Women's Tour of Britain highlights of stage 5:

Successful Surgery for Chris Butler
Caja Rural - Seguros RGA’s Chris Butler had an unfortunate end to Clásica de Almería last Sunday as the American rider crashed on the penultimate lap and fractured his left elbow.

Yesterday morning, Butler underwent surgery at Clínica San Miguel located in Pamplona. Doctor Recarte, Viscarret and Lecumberri were in charge of the successful operation and they now assess that the 28-year-old climber should be able to start training again in one and a half months.

Chris Butler: “The surgery went well. Fortunately, it was only my arm so I hope to be back training and preparing for the next races soon. My spirit is good. Of course, this whole situation is very unfortunate but from now on, things can only get better”.

We spoke to Chris at the end of January.

Tour of the Alps Earns the International Limelight
With two months to go, the new-born event following the steps of Giro del Trentino shows off on Friday in Hochfilzen (Austria) at the Biathlon World Championships. Special Guests Moser and Totschnig.

With two months to the debut in Kufstein, on April 17th, the new Tour of the Alps – Giro del Trentino’s rightful heir – starts getting used to the international atmosphere it is naturally destined to, considering its cross-border nature and global vision.

Looking ahead to 2018 Cycling World Championships in Innsbruck, the new stage-race involving three amazing territories such as Trentino, Südtirol and Tirol, will be in the spotlights next Friday in Austria’s Hochfilzen, during the Biathlon World Championships taking place in Pillerseetal Tirol’s valley for the third time, the previous ones being in 1978 and 2015.

Considering biathlon’s resounding popularity all over Northern Europe, Tour of the Alps seizes a perfect opportunity to promote itself during a press conference on Friday, February 17th, 11:00 am at the TirolBerg, a special facility where to meet media, sport and tourism personalities, political authorities.

Tirol Werbung Director Josef Margreiter will be the host to introduce the new five-stage race finishing next April 21st in Trento. Two former top riders, Italian Francesco Moser and Austrian Georg Totschnig (stage winner at 2005 Tour de France) will be the presentation’s special guests alongside Giacomo Santini, President of G.S. Alto Garda, the organizing company of Giro del Trentino and, now, of the Tour of the Alps, to unveil the 18-team line-up of the race.

Tour of the Alps - Presentation:

Contador to premiere customized Trek Émonda at Vuelta a Andalucía
February 15 marks the first race start of Alberto Contador with Trek-Segafredo, and when he lines up with his new teammates in Vuelta a Andalucía Wednesday, he will do so on a customized Project One Trek Émonda bicycle that honors his multiple Grand Tour wins.

Contador is among the select few to have conquered the Triple Crown of Grand Tours – Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España – and to celebrate the illustrious career of this extraordinary athlete, Trek Bicycle created a Project One Émonda with an Alberto Contador Grand Tour Celebración paint scheme.

Contador: "It's a bike that I really like. I wanted the dominant color to be white and on that basis, we worked. I asked that the design reflects the victories in the three big tours, with the colors of the three maillots. The people of Trek made a design in which you can see the images of the Eiffel Tower, the Duomo Square, and the Cibeles Square, together with a shield of my hometown, Pinto, all united by the motto that I always have in mind when facing great challenges: 'Querer es poder' ('Where there's a will, there's a way'). The truth is that I'm delighted with the bike, it's super nice, and I'm looking forward to race with it".

Each Alberto Contador Grand Tour Celebración Émonda is hand-painted at Trek's global headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, and available now to customers world-wide exclusively through Project One.

Berty's new bike:

RIP Marco Pantani
Tuesday the 14th of February was the 13th anniversary of the death of Marco Pantani. Whatever you thought of him as a person, taking into consideration his drug taking for performance improvement and other reasons, he was a phenomenal climber. Here is a nice bit of film by la Gazzetta dello Sport, 'I più grandi scalatori della storia del Giro d'Italia - Marco Pantani' (The best climbers in the history of the Tour of Italy - Marco Pantani). It's in Italian, but well worth a watch:

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