Wednesday, February 21, 2024

EUROTRASH Monday: Cyclo-Cross Action and A Bunch of News! – PezCycling News

Must read

Two big cyclo-cross races this weekend: UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup in Flamanville and the Telenet Superprestige in Boom – Reports, results, rider’s thoughts and video.

Johan Museeuw thinks it will be difficult for Remco Evenepoel to win the Tour, Christian Prudhomme disagrees – TOP STORY.

Rider news: Tom Pidcock to miss the Flemish Classics, Richard Plugge talks 2024, Tom Pidcock going for Olympic MTB/road combination, Visma | Lease a Bike want Cian Uijtdebroeks, Liane Lippert will be out of action for two weeks, Franck Alaphilippe leaves Soudal Quick-Step, UAE Team Emirates rider caught being towed by a truck, Olympic time trial bad for Evenepoel, good for Van Aert, Egan Bernal’s younger brother to race in Europe, Pim Ronhaar to be a stagiaire with Lidl-Trek, Toon Aerts finds a team for when his doping suspension ends and Colombian Marco Tulio Suesca tests positive for EPO.

Team news: Decathlon AG2R wants to avoid relegation from the WorldTour, Movistar sign Davide Cimolai, Imanol Erviti to be a INEOS Grenadiers DS and there is still a lot of WorldTour riders without a contract for 2024.

Race news: Benidorm wants Wout van Aert in their World Cup cyclo-cross and the Grand Départ 2025: The Tour de France in the land of the giants.

Monday EUROTRASH cyclo-cross coffee time.


TOP STORY: Johan Museeuw Thinks it Will be Difficult for Remco Evenepoel to Win the Tour, Christian Prudhomme Disagrees
Remco Evenepoel looks to be making his debut in the Tour de France next year, but can the 23 year-old Belgian compete for the overall victory? Johan Museeuw has his doubts, while Tour boss, Christian Prudhomme, is more optimistic.

“It will be difficult to win the Tour,” said Museeuw on the podcast of Geraint Thomas: The Geraint Thomas Cycling Club. “In my opinion he is now very good at one-day races. He wins those races in a big way. Watch him win Liège-Bastogne-Liège, watch him win the Clasica San Sebastian… He has the ability to win the Tour, he has it in him, but I’m not sure it will happen.”

“I always say: riders who win the Tour are really special people. There are maybe three or four riders who can win the Tour. In the past it was Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins, you…,” referring to Thomas. “And currently there are Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard. But there are very few riders in the peloton who go to the Tour and can say they have a 90 to 95% chance of winning. At the moment I think Remco has a 60% chance.”

Museeuw thinks Evenepoel’s chances can still increase in the future. “If he goes to another team, he has a better chance. He is a phenomenon, I love him, but I have to be honest: it is not that easy to win the Tour de France.”

Thomas has a lot of confidence in Evenepoel. “I think he can win the Tour,” said the 2018 Tour winner. “Quick-Step is getting better, although the Grand Tours are not yet their strength. But he is still very young.”

Christian Prudhomme has also spoken about Remco Evenepoel’s chances in the Tour de France. The Tour boss doesn’t want to write off Evenepoel for the 2024 Tour: “Obviously Vingegaard and Pogačar will be the big favourites. But Evenepoel does have that X-factor, that unexpected and brilliant thing. He can suddenly turn things upside down,” he said to Sporza at an ASO press conference about the Grand Départ of the 2025 Tour de France, among others. “He can win. But what is certain is that he will leave his mark on the race and therefore also on the overall victory.”

Prudhomme was particularly impressed by the resilience that Evenepoel displayed in the Vuelta a España. The Belgian cracked on the 13th stage to the Col du Tourmalet, but won two more stages after. “It struck me how he was able to bounce back after a setback. I thought he would give up, but we did the opposite. He made it a spectacle with his attacks.”

Evenepoel: Can he, can’t he?
lombardia 2023


cross world cup
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup – Men Flamanville 2023
Eli Iserbyt won the Flamanville round of the World Cup on Sunday. The Belgian of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal was in a battle with Pim Ronhaar for a long time, but rode away from the Dutchman on the penultimate lap and then soloed to victory. Lars van der Haar came second and Ronhaar was third.

flamanville 2023

The second race of the weekend in Flamanville, France had a very good field, compared to Saturday’s Superprestige cross in Boom. The Dutch cyclo-cross riders Lars van der Haar and Pim Ronhaar were present. Eli Iserbyt, Thibau Nys, Michael Vanthourenhout and Laurens Sweeck were all on the start line in the north of France. In the first lap the pace was already high and the field was pulled into a thin line. The Swiss rider, Kevin Kuhn, was responsible for the speed of the opening lap, but the top riders were still to make their move. One of those top riders, Joris Nieuwenhuis, slipped on a bend where Sanne Cant crashed in the women’s race. The winner in Boom was able to continue.

Fortunately for Baloise Trek Lions, Ronhaar and Van der Haar were still up at the front. Ronhaar, the best in the World Cup races in Dendermonde and Dublin this season, again had a very good start and first lap. The Dutchman made a nice gap on the first group of pursuers. Ronhaar’s lead quickly increased to about 10 seconds, but Eli Iserbyt wasn’t going to let him get away and put in a hard chase. The leader of the World Cup slowly managed to reduce the lead. With three laps to go the difference was only 7 seconds.

The stage was set for a battle between Iserbyt and Ronhaar for the victory in Flamanville. Iserbyt put Ronhaar under pressure several times with some sharp attacks, but the tough Dutchman wouldn’t be dropped. About 15 seconds behind the two leaders, Nieuwenhuis and Van der Haar fought for the last podium place. In the penultimate lap, Ronhaar finally cracked under the force of Iserbyt, who managed to ride away from Ronhaar and started the final lap with a lead of 20 seconds for his second victory in the World Cup of this season. He also took his previous World Cup victory in France, Troyes. Van der Haar caught and dropped his teammate Ronhaar in the finale and the Dutch champion finished second. Ronhaar held on for third place, just ahead of his teammate Nieuwenhuis.

flamanville 2023

Race winner, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “I had to fight my way back to the head of the race after a very bad start. However, after about thirty minutes I found the right lines. I’m happy that I was able to grow in the race and finish so well. I was stuck at about fifteen seconds for two laps. Lars (Van der Haar) and Joris (Nieuwenhuis) did their thing, but I was stimulated to ride even faster. I have to thank them for that. Once I joined Pim, I put a lot of pressure. I rode a little faster and I kept gaining time on the beams. In the forest I also rode slightly better lines. This way I could make a difference. I tried to maintain freshness during the week. I get a lot of massages and often go to the physiotherapist. My wife also does a lot at home and that means I can start the weekend a little fresher. Furthermore, you occasionally have to sacrifice a day’s victory for the sake of a ranking. I want to win one cross every weekend. The plan was to triumph today. I am therefore very satisfied.”

2nd, Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions): “In the first lap it was difficult for me to get into my rhythm. Fortunately, at some point I came back to join Eli. I wanted to give Pim as many seconds as possible, but I couldn’t consistently ride for Eli. Eli was ultimately the strongest. I couldn’t follow and had to recover for a lap, but I felt strong afterwards. I’m happy with my second place. (And dodging the ducks?) I’ve had to do that for dogs before, but I haven’t experienced ducks yet… Well, those animals can’t do much about it either. I’m leaving on Tuesday with Pim (for a training camp). It is very necessary to regain fitness and freshness. Now we mainly ride on character and fitness, but soon some very fresh guys (Van der Poel, Van Aert and Pidcock) will be added. I will now have to train very hard to be able to keep up with them.”

3rd, Pim Ronhaar (Baloise Trek Lions): “I didn’t feel very good today, but my basic pace was very high. I clocked fast lap times from the start. To my own surprise, because I had a bit of back pain and didn’t have much power. However, I wanted to push on after Eli’s bad start. When he was on my wheel after three laps, I felt the mood. I tried to follow him, but it was over. At the end I didn’t really feel good anymore and that was also a tricky passage. Eli was simply the strongest and I am happy that I still finished on the podium here, because I seriously stopped in the last two laps. We are now going to relax for two weeks and train hard, so that we can tackle it again afterwards.”

UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup – Men Flamanville Result:
1. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in 1:00:09
2. Lars van der Haar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:13
3. Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:47
4. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:54
5. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 1:23
6. Kevin Kuhn (Sui) Circus-Reuz-Technord at 1:36
7. Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Crelan-Corendon at 1:47
8. Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:04
9. Jens Adams (Bel) Athletes for Hope at 2:16
10. Joran Wyseure (Bel) Crelan-Corendon at 2:31



cross world cup
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup – Women Flamanville 2023
Lucinda Brand took her second victory of the season. The Dutch rider of Baloise Trek Lions clearly proved to be the strongest in the Flamanville World Cup race on Sunday. Brand rode away from the opposition in the second lap and then soloed to victory. Marie Schreiber came second, Leonie Bentveld was third.

flamanville 2023

For the second cross race of the weekend in Flamanville, some top riders among the women decided not to travel to France. The riders who were at the start faced a fast race in a French meadow. First and second in the cross in Boom, World champion Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse, were not there and so other riders saw their chance. The best start went to Marie Schreiber. The Luxembourger is known for her fast start and was also the first onto the grass in Flamanville. The two top Dutch riders, Lucinda Brand and Shirin van Anrooij, didn’t fare as well. Brand, who decided to miss the cyclo-cross in Boom on Saturday, managed catch up quickly, but her teammate Van Anrooij, who clearly had difficulty getting into her rhythm, was in trouble. Schreiber was still in the lead, with Denise Betsema following in her wake.

The differences were still close after the first lap. Schreiber was the first to cross the finish line, followed by Betsema, Brand, Annemarie Worst and the Canadian Maghalie Rochette. Leonie Bentveld and Manon Bakker also managed to limit their loss. After 10 minutes of racing, Van Anrooij was already half a minute behind and could no longer race for the win. Brand had something else up her sleeve and was clearly gaining steam. The World champion in Ostend took control in the second lap and made a crossing to Schreiber in no time. The difference had already increased to 15 seconds at the beginning of the third lap and this turned out to be a sign for the others. Brand was to be too good for the competition.

After a strong start, Schreiber slowed down and had Denise Betsema and Leonie Bentveld, both of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, on her heels. Bentveld still had some reserves and made the jump to Schreiber in the penultimate lap. However, the Luxembourg rider proved to be particularly tough and continued to put pressure on Bentveld. Leader Brand had now started the fifth and final lap. The lead over Schreiber at the finish line was 20 seconds and the experienced Dutchwoman would not be caught in the final lap. A week after her victory in Dublin, Brand recorded a second consecutive victory in the World Cup. After a strong final lap, Schreiber crossed the line in second place, while the 19 year-old Bentveld rode to a podium place in a top cross for the first time. Betsema finished just off the podium in fourth place, but was the second rider from Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal in the top five. The top 5 was completed by Shirin van Anrooij, after she had to ride a catch-up race in the second half of the cross.

flamanville 2023

Race winner, Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions): “Although I didn’t feel as good today as last week, it was still good enough. I didn’t have the flow of last week (in Dublin) and I also had a less good start. I shot off my pedal. I also made a lot of small mistakes along the way. Luckily I was able to provide enough power on the power strips. I was able to make a gap and then hold it. I knew I had to remain patient after my poor start. Fortunately, I was able to move up again fairly quickly. The ideal track had become a deep groove. It worked a few times, but once it didn’t go well. I think I had a stone in my pedal. That almost went wrong and it could have been even worse, but luckily it ended well. I’ll wait and see how it all goes during the Christmas period.”

2nd, Marie Schreiber (SD Worx): “It’s really incredible. It was definitely a goal to be on the podium one day. This was a really great day. Everything went according to plan. I am really very happy. It was important to ride at my own pace. I couldn’t follow Lucinda and made a few more mistakes in the first two laps, but I managed to adapt. I was able to keep my second place. I just started a little slower today. I often used to get out of the starting blocks too quickly. I was often too motivated. Now I realise that after a fast start I just have to slow down a bit. To have some energy left for the final. I just hope to have a consistent season. The World Cup is still coming, but that will take some time.”

3rd, Leonie Bentveld (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “This is very surprising. I had dreamt of this, but certainly not expected it. I felt very strong today. A year ago I took the overall victory in the Junior World Cup here, in Flamanville. So I have good memories of this place. The course also suits me and I was really looking forward to this cross. That turned out very well. In the third lap I came to Schreiber, but I was too happy with a third place. I perhaps rode a little too safely, since I was also working on the leader’s jersey in the U23 World Cup. I also noticed during the cross that I was ready for a week in Spain, after a difficult first half of the season.”

UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup – Women Flamanville Result:
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions in 50:05
2. Marie Schreiber (Lux) SD Worx at 0:20
3. Leonie Bentveld (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal 0:30
4. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:45
5. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 0:55
6. Annemarie Worst (Ned) Cyclocross Reds at 0:58
7. Manon Bakker (Ned) Crelan-Corendon at 0:59
8. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) Crelan-Corendon at 1:17
9. Hélene Clauzel (Fra) AS Bike Racing at 1:21
10. Amandine Fouquenet (Fra) Arkéa-B&B Hotels at 1:29.



Telenet Superprestige – Men Boom 2023
Joris Nieuwenhuis won the Telenet Superprestige cyclo-cross in Boom on Saturday. The Dutchman was soon in the lead solo, but Cameron Mason kept him in his sights until the final lap. The British rider couldn’t pull the Dutchman back and Nieuwenhuis took the victory. Eli Iserbyt was third.

boom 2023

Because the Flamanville World Cup race in France was on Sunday, some riders missed out the Superprestige in Boom. Among those absent were Lars van der Haar and Pim Ronhaar. Joris Nieuwenhuis and Thibau Nys were present for Baloise Trek Lions, but with Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout, Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal looked to have the strongest team.

The fastest start didn’t come from a rider of the big teams. Jens Adams of Athletes for Hope was the first onto the grass. He made a nice gap, but Nys managed to close him down halfway through the opening lap. Cameron Mason, Iserbyt and Nieuwenhuis were also there. Nieuwenhuis put the others under heavy pressure in the second lap and then broke away. Mason was the closest, Nys and Iserbyt followed a little further back. After three of the nine laps, Nieuwenhuis had a 7 second lead over the British rider, while Nys and Iserbyt were 29 seconds behind. On the following lap, Mason came 1 second closer to the leader, but the other riders lost more and more time on Nieuwenhuis. Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout and Niels Vandeputte, Nys had dropped out, were 49 seconds behind after five laps.

The difference between Mason and Nieuwenhuis fluctuated between 5 and 10 seconds for a long time. At the start of the final lap, the situation had not changed and Mason now followed at 9 seconds. Nieuwenhuis still had enough in the tank to extend the lead and secure the victory, to win his second Superprestige race in a row. Mason had to settle for second place, as Iserbyt managed to break away from Vanthourenhout and Vandeputte for third. The Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal rider held the overall lead in the Superprestige.

Race winner, Joris Nieuwenhuis (Baloise Trek Lions): “The explanation for this success? But one thing: my lower back is holding up well. All the races that I really didn’t race well were races where my lower back hurt a lot. I have the feeling that we have now really solved that problem. I didn’t necessarily work on it during my training camp, but before that. During my camp I made up for a training gap that I had suffered when I became very ill just before the season. We said we would increase that again during the season. That turned out well. In the first lap I already felt that I was very good. It came to a bit of a standstill and I know that I can continue to ride well for an entire cross, if I can ride my own lines and use my strength, instead of constantly snoring. So I thought I’d just start it and see who follows. It went very well right away. I immediately had a very good focus. ON one hand, I especially feel that my time on the road has made me more consistent throughout the season. On the other hand, if I look back at the time before I rode on the road, this was also the way to win a cross. Just race well from start to finish.”

2nd, Cameron Mason (Cyclocross Reds): “It was fun. I walked to the cross today, I can almost see my apartment from here. It was also a great race. Quite a lonely race. I tried to close the gap to Joris, but I was at my max. But it is nice to take a podium place again in such a big race. I’m one step closer to victory. I arrived last night, so I didn’t ride the course. But I sometimes run here during my running training. It’s cool to see a race coming to where you live. It may have seemed more dramatic on television than it actually was. It was a bit slow motion. There were stretches where he was better, then laps where I was better. But I was never on the wheel. Until you’re on the wheel, it’s never really a struggle. It was more of a time trial. I did my best, but the strongest won. I’ll try again next time. I know it only takes one mistake from him. So I didn’t stop believing, but in the end I came second.”

3rd, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal): “I was also a bit worried about tomorrow. If I had been involved from the start, more might have been possible. But I just couldn’t follow at the beginning. Then it’s time to think about it, right? But hey, you take as much risk as you want. I didn’t take too many risks. It was a very nice circuit, super difficult. I think they had a nice race at the front, so it was a successful day. I do indeed put some pressure on myself, but well, I sometimes perform reasonably well under pressure. So yes, the World Cup was a slightly bigger goal this weekend, because the points count ensures that a first place there is super important. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It is a course tailored to my needs, so I am curious. I have a hotel five hours from here, so the journey will be doable the normal.”

Telenet Superprestige – Men Boom Result:
1. Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions in 57:32
2. Cameron Mason (GB) Cyclocross Reds at 0:10
3. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 0:52
4. Niels Vandeputte (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 1:05
5. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 1:11
6. Thibau Nys (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions at 1:32
7. Witse Meeussen (Bel) Crelan-Corendon at 1:32
8. Jens Adams (Bel) Athletes for Hope at 1:41
9. Thijs Aerts (Bel) Circus-ReUz-Technord at 1:48
10. Jente Michels (Bel) Alpecin-Deceuninck at 1:51.



Telenet Superprestige – Women Boom 2023
Fem van Empel has maintained her undefeated run by winning the Superprestige in Boom. She made her move in the second lap and then soloed to victory. Puck Pieterse finished second, Annemarie Worst third.

boom 2023

The Superprestige round in Boom had a strong field for the women’s race. While Shirin van Anrooij made her return to cyclo-cross, Fem van Empel and Puck Pieterse were also at the start. As far as the big names were concerned, only Lucinda Brand (saving herself for the Flamanville World Cup) and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (illness) were absent.

Pieterse got off to a good start, unlike Van Empel. The World champion had trouble getting into her pedals and had to watch from further back as Pieterse was the first off the road. Van Empel quickly moved up to second place, but on the slippery course she fell when dismounting. Pieterse then went away on her own. There was no sight of Van Anrooij, one of the riders who was held up by an early crash. It was Denise Betsema who came through third after the first lap, just ahead of Inge van der Heijden, Annemarie Worst and Kata Blanka Vas. After a long chase, Van Anrooij got close to the group, but would eventually finish ninth.

The difference between Pieterse and Van Empel was 8 seconds after one lap. But after the Fenix-Deceunink rider made a mistake, Van Empel quickly returned in the second of six laps. When Pieterse fell on a descent, it was the World champion who was now alone in the lead. The Jumbo-Visma rider then took more time. At the end of the lap she had a 20 second lead over her first pursuer. Half-way through the race the difference had increased to 43 seconds. After that, the lead only increased and so it was clear before the final lap that Van Empel would take her ninth victory of the season. Pieterse had to settle for second place. In the battle for third, it seemed to be between Annemarie Worst, Inge van der Heijden and Kata Blank Vas, but Vlas was dropped. The two Dutch riders fought it out for the last podium step. Worst came out on top. The Cyclocross Reds rider is now also the leader of the Superprestige series.

Boom 2023

Race winner, Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma): “I felt I was lacking a bit of sharpness before the start”, Van Empel said. “That showed in the mistakes I made on the first lap. So, the little crash was a good wake-up call to pick myself up. I decided to stay with Pieterse for a while after closing the gap, but soon found myself alone. The following laps were flawless, and I’m happy with that. It’s bizarre. I’m thrilled with the way things are going this season. I work very hard for it every week. Not only the training is important, but also the rest and the environment. It’s nice to see all that effort rewarded at the weekend.”

2nd, Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck): “This was really a strength course. If the difference is so big, that is a shame for me. Fem just races really well. It’s that simple. She is really flying this season. She proves that once again today. If I just keep doing my thing, I can really work towards that level again. You saw in the summer that I was stronger, now Fem is stronger again. There’s definitely still fire in me. It’s nice to be working towards something. It’s a shame that Lucinda (Brand) and Ceylin (del Carmen Alvarado) were not there today. They might have ridden there with me, or maybe before, or with Fem. We haven’t gotten that picture very clearly yet. But you can see that I was now in no man’s land for the entire race, because behind me it was a battle for third place. But it was a good circuit to ride at your own pace. I tried to ride new lines throughout the race, to see where I can go faster. If you no longer participate for the win, you have time to work on that. I’m looking forward to the next race.”

Telenet Superprestige – Women Boom Result:
1. Fem van Empel (Ned) Jumbo-Visma in 43:27
2. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Fenix-Deceuninck at 1:04
3. Annemarie Worst (Ned) Cyclocross Reds at 1:59
4. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) Crelan-Corendon at 2:07
5. Aniek van Alphen (Ned) Cyclocross Reds at 2:15
6. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal at 2:18
7. Kata Blanka Vas (Hun) SD Worx at 2:34
8. Sanne Cant (Bel) Crelan-Corendon at 2:44
9. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions at 2:55
10. Alicia Franck (Bel) De Ceuster-Bonache at 3:11.



Tom Pidcock to Miss the Flemish Classics
Tom Pidcock has ten cyclo-cross races this winter, but he is planning his next road season. The all-rounder was at the start of several Flemish spring classics this year, but Pidcock looks to be having a different 2024 season.

Kurt Bogaerts, sports director with INEOS Grenadiers and Pidcock’s personal trainer, said to Het Nieuwsblad when asked if Pidcock wouldn’t be riding the Flemish Classics: “That is the intention. Even though that is not yet 100% certain. I think we are heading in the direction of the Ardennes Classics with Tom.”

“If you participate in all Flemish races, you are limited in terms of tours that you can contest. If you want to do more than take part in a stage race à la the Volta ao Algarve and, for example, compete in Paris-Nice, then you have to start cutting back on your program,” Bogaerts points out the problem.

Last season Pidcock combined the cobbled and hilly Classics. In the Flemish spring races he didn’t really do much, apart from a 5th place in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. In the Amstel Gold and Liège-Bastogne-Liège he took a third and second place.

No Flemish cobbles for Pidcock in 2024?


Richard Plugge: “Wout’s flat tire in Paris-Roubaix? That is not bad luck and should not happen again.”
How can Jumbo-Visma have a better 2024 season than its record breaking 2023? Team manager Richard Plugge spoke to Het Laatste Nieuws about how the team mainly wants to set itself new goals and prepare itself even better for the Tour. “The disadvantage that we have won so much this year is that people are copying us.”

Plugge realises that 2023 was a great year. “Going higher than this year will be almost impossible, if only because it has never happened that a team has won the three Grand Tours in a row. We will set new goals for ourselves and they will be different than this year. But no less challenging. And it will still be at the top level.”

The team manager also remains critical about the goals that have not been achieved. “A lot went right last season, but a few things didn’t go well. We ask ourselves: what can we do better than last year? The question is how we can have just as successful a year in 2024 as in 2023, with perhaps one or two fewer Grand Tours won.”

In the classics, the team won everything until the important monuments, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix: “We look at what went wrong there. Wout van Aert suffered a puncture at the Carrefour de l’Arbre. We do not see a puncture as bad luck. We just have to make sure it can’t happen. If Wout doesn’t have a puncture, he will probably win Paris-Roubaix. Getting a puncture is not bad luck.”

“What we have already gotten out of it is that we have to pay even more attention to equipment to prevent us from having a puncture or running into problems in terms of equipment. It’s very easy to say: we’re unlucky, that’s it. But that’s not how we are wired. We look at where we have influence and we look at how we can prevent that. That does not mean that we will prevent it, but we do want to exclude it as much as possible.”

The team must reinvent itself, according to Plugge. “That applies to everyone, including Wout. The disadvantage that we have won so much this year is that people copy us. Jonas Vingegaard also has to see how he and the team can do better in the Tour next year. Because Pogačar will arm himself differently. And suddenly we have Primoz Roglič as an opponent, which means we will have to go to the Tour differently and better.”

New aims for Plugge:


Tom Pidcock Going for an Olympic Combination
Tom Pidcock hopes to repeat his mountain bike Olympic title next year, but the 24 year-old Briton does not only focus on mountain biking. The intention is that Pidcock will also participate in the Olympic road race in Paris.

This was announced by Kurt Bogaerts to Het Nieuwsblad. The versatile rider will first focus on the Tour de France in the summer, followed by the Olympic Games in Paris. Pidcock hopes to successfully defend his Olympic MTB title at the Games, but that’s not all. “The intention is for Tom to participate in both mountain biking and road race in Paris,” Bogaerts outlined. “His ambition is Olympic gold again. The road race is a little more complicated, but it’s a good thing that the mountain biking is already over. The explosiveness of that discipline can come in handy in the road race.”

Pidcock is probably not the only rider who will prepare for this challenging Olympic combination, because Mathieu van der Poel is also playing with the idea of combining the mountain bike race and road race in Paris. National coaches Koos Moerenhout and Gerben de Knegt previously talked about the dilemma with WielerFlits.

The Olympic cross country mountain bike race is scheduled for Monday, July 29the 2024. The road race follows five days later on Saturday, August 3rd.

MTB and road Olympics for Pidcock:


Visma | Lease a Bike Want Cian Uijtdebroeks
Despite his contract with BORA-hansgrohe, the future of Cian Uijtdebroeks remains uncertain for the time being. It was previously announced that INEOS Grenadiers and Lidl-Trek are among those interested, but also Jumbo-Visma wants the talented Belgian.

“We are interested in Cian. We were already like that when he was still a junior,” stated team manager Richard Plugge in conversation with HLN. “We already spoke to him then. But he still has a contract.” A move by Uijtdebroeks before 2024 will be unlikely, because Plugge’s team already full. “Never say never, but: no, there will be no one else.”

Uijtdebroeks was very successful this year with BORA-hansgrohe, but the Belgian was not always happy with the team and there were rumours that Uijtdebroeks might want to leave. “Would I stay with the team until next year? I’m not going to answer that. I have no comment on those matters at the moment,” he recently said.

Uijtdebroeks to change team?
Cian Uijtdebroeks


Liane Lippert Will Be Out of Action for Two Weeks Due to a Stress Fracture
Liane Lippert will not be able to ride her bike for a while. The 25 year-old Movistar rider will be out of action for one to two weeks due to a stress fracture. Lippert suffered the injury while running.

A common overuse injury during running is a stress fracture, also known as a fatigue fracture. Stress fractures can occur in several places in the body, but mainly occur in the foot due to overuse of a foot bone. Lippert said in a podcast that she will not touch the bike for the time being, but that she can resume her preparation for the new road season after about two weeks. The German champion has been one performing well for several years. Last season. Lippert not only won the German championship for the second consecutive time, but also won stages in the Tour de France Femmes, the Tour de Romandie and Tre Valli Varesine. She was also second in the Flèche Wallonne, third in the Brabantse Pijl, seventh in Strade Bianche and eighth in Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Liane Lippert out for two weeks with a Stress Fracture:


soudal quick-step
Franck Alaphilippe Leaves Soudal Quick-Step
Franck Alaphilippe will not be employed as a trainer with Soudal Quick-Step in 2024. Julian Alaphilippe’s uncle was not given a contract with the Belgian WorldTeam for the next season. Franck wasn’t surprised, because according to him there were tensions between Julian and team manager Patrick Lefevere.

“I kind of saw it coming,” said Franck Alaphilippe in conversation with CyclismActu. “There was already a first signal with everything that happened surrounding the merger between Jumbo-Visma and Soudal Quick-Step. As my contract expired, I found myself in a difficult situation. When the merger didn’t go through, I was still not sure. But I dared to hope.”

It was a vain hope, as it turned out. “After the merger issues, there were tensions between Patrick Lefevere and Julian, which again made my situation a bit uncertain. So I wasn’t really surprised when I heard that I couldn’t stay.”

Franck Alaphilippe has been with Patrick Lefevere’s team since 2020. “It was an exceptional experience,” he looks back on his four seasons with the team. “Being fully part of the team allowed me to meet other coaches and discuss training methods with them. I was also able to follow other high-level riders. It was a very good experience.”

Next year Franck would like to work as a trainer for another team. “But because I heard late that I was not renewed (end of October/beginning of November), that is complicated. Other teams have already assembled their coaching staff. I hope to find a team again in 2025.”

In the meantime, Franck may remain the personal trainer of his nephew Julian. “I will be his coach until the end of December. Discussions are currently underway with the team and Julian for the future. What is certain is that I will never abandon him. So if the team gives him the opportunity to continue with me… I have already spoken to a sports director from the team and he thinks it is the best solution for Julian and me if I continue to train Julian.”

Franck no longer with Soudal Quick-Step, but maybe with Julian Alaphilippe:


UAE Team Emirates Rider Caught being Towed by a Truck
A video of UAE Team Emirates rider, Felix Groß has appeared on social media. In the video we see that the German, who should not be confused with his (soon to be ex) teammate Felix Großschartner, hold on to a moving truck. Team manager José Antonio ‘Matxin’ Fernández has disapproved of his rider’s action on X (Twitter).

“Deplorable and unacceptable,” Matxin wrote about Groß’s behaviour. The 25 year-old rider, who joined the team as a stagiaire in mid-2021, will not be riding for the team next year. He has dropped down to the Continental Rad-Net Oßwald team. Groß has a contract with UAE Emirates until the end of the year, so he is still riding the UAE kit.

Matxin emphasises that it is Groß, not Felix Großschartner. Initially, the Austrian’s name was mentioned in the video. “Make it clear that it is not Felix Großschartner, but the German Felix Groß, who will no longer race for us in 2024,” the Spaniard makes clear. “That does not mean that what he does is not deplorable.”


Olympic Time Trial Bad for Remco Evenepoel, but good for Wout van Aert
It looks like the two Belgian leaders will head to Paris for the Olympic Games with different preparations. The Belgian national coach, Sven Vanthourenhout, sees merit in both processes, he told WielerFlits.

Wout van Aert has made the Giro d’Italia his main goal of the season, while Remco Evenepoel will ride the Tour de France for the first time shortly before the Olympic Games. “They have both shown that they can be ready for a big appointment, even if they come from a big tour. It is also clear that they have ambitions for the Games, I have already discussed this with them and their management.”

Unlike the Tokyo Games, the time trial takes place a few days before the road race. According to Vanthourenhout, this is important. “Past experience tells me that riders who came from a Grand Tour often did well in the road race at the World championships or the Olympic Games and then fell one percent short in the time trial. Just look at Van Aert in Tokyo (after the Tour) and Evenepoel in Wollongong (after the Vuelta). That opportunity also exists here.”

Finishing the Tour could therefore be a risk for Evenepoel, but Vanthourenhout is not worried. “Remco always comes from a Grand Tour at a very high level. He knows very well what he is doing and I am the last to question his preparation. On paper, riders from the Tour should be at a bit of a disadvantage for the time trial, but Remco can always prove me wrong and can combine the two perfectly.”

The national coach is also enthusiastic about Van Aert’s Giro choice. “The Giro has not yet been officially determined, but I personally think it would not suit him badly. It will be a completely different preparation for the Games than he did in 2021, but no less successful. Wout also knows what he has to do and is very motivated.”

The Paris Olympic route remains a big question mark at the moment. “A championship on a city circuit always provides a completely different experience than any other race or classic that exists. In terms of experience, it will be a bit like in Glasgow, but every race or course has its own facets. It will always be different than the last time, but certainly difficult. I don’t expect a bunch sprint, at most one from a thinned out group.”

Olympic hopefuls – Remco and Wout:


Egan Bernal’s 18 Year-Old Brother to Race in Europe in 2024
Ronald Bernal, the younger brother of Tour winner Egan Bernal, will race for UC Monaco next year. The club team supported by the Monaco Cycling Federation confirmed the news on social media.

The 18 year-old Ronald is an U23 from 2024. As a junior, the Colombian raced for Talentos Colombia-Bicicletas Strongman, a team supported by his brother Egan. He also contested several European races for the Italian Regia Congressi Seiecom Valdarno team, including the Trofeo Comune di Vertova – Memorial Pietro Merelli (1.1), although he didn’t finish that UCI race.

Egan Bernal is known for his climbing qualities, whereas Ronald is a ‘rouleur’ according to Ciclismo Internacional. His dream is to win Paris-Roubaix.

Egan and Ron Bernal:


lidl trek
Pim Ronhaar to be a Stagiaire with Lidl-Trek in 2024
Pim Ronhaar will ride a few races with WorldTeam Lidl-Trek in 2024. From August 1, he can be a stagiaire with the American team, Ronhaar told the NOS.

“I don’t know exactly which races yet, but that is a very nice prospect,” said the 22 year-old rider of Baloise Trek Lions, who had his big breakthrough in recent weeks with World Cup victories in Dendermonde and Dublin. Ronhaar does not expect immediate success on the road, but he knows where he can best perform in the long term. “I think I like the Classics in Wallonia best. A little more uphill, where I can use my power better,” said Ronhaar.

The Dutchman is following the example of teammate Thibau Nys, who started racing with the then Trek-Segafredo team as a stagaiare in 2022. A year later, Nys moved to the WorldTeam, where he has now signed until 2026. Thanks to the partnership with Baloise Trek Lions, he can continue to race for his current team.

Pim Ronhaar to race on the road with Lidl-Trek:
Pim Ronhaar


Toon Aerts Finds a Team for When his Doping Suspension Ends
Toon Aerts has signed for Deschacht-Hens-Maes and will race again as soon as his two-year doping suspension ends on February 16th of next year. According to Het Nieuwsblad, Aerts has a two-year contract with Deschacht-Hens-Maes, starting on February 16, the day his two-year ban for the use of the substance letrozole expires.

Aerts, who then rode for Baloise Trek Lions, was only officially found guilty of the doping violation in August 2023, after an investigation by the UCI. Aerts has always maintained that his positive test was due to contamination. Despite Aerts protests, the UCI concluded that he had “failed to establish how (the substance) entered his body”. His ban was backdated and will expire on February 16, 2024. Aerts plans to be back in action on the 17th in Sint-Niklaas.

Toon Aerts back in February 2024:
toon aerts


movistar best pc
Colombian Marco Tulio Suesca Tests Positive for EPO
Marco Tulio Suesca is looking at a long suspension. The 29 year-old Colombian tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition check in September. Suesca has been provisionally suspended by the Colombian anti-doping tribunal.

Suesca has been sidelined by his Movistar-Best PC team and is now awaiting the ‘B’ sample test and a final verdict from the anti-doping authorities. The climber tested positive before the start of the Vuelta de Boyacá, but still started the race. Suesca took a stage win and also won a stage in the Vuelta al Eduador.

The Colombian has never managed to join the pros during his career, but in recent years he has been one of the better riders on the South and Central American circuit. He won the Vuelta a Costa Rica last year and was fifth in the Vuelta a Colombia, this year he was ninth in the Colombian tour and was successful again in the Vuelta de Boyacá and Vuelta a Ecuador.

The provisionally suspended Suesca has raced for the Continental Movistar-Best PC team since December 2022. Before that he rode for the club team Equipe Continental Orgullo Paisa. Seven years ago, in 2016, he was a stagiaire with the now defunct Manzana Postobon team. He rode several European races: the Klasika Primavera, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and the Tour of Asturias.

Ban for Marco Tulio Suesca:
Marco Tulio Suesca


ag2r cirtoen
Decathlon AG2R Wants to Avoid Relegation from the WorldTour
Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale absolutely doesn’t want to be relegated to ProTeam after 2025. The French team only finished 17th in the 2023 UCI rankings, putting it in the danger zone. Things must be better next season, riders Oliver Naesen and Stan Dewulf spoke to Sporza about next year.

Decathlon-AG2R has two years to keep its place on the highest step of the sport. In 2026, teams that are not in the top 18 will be relegated. “The points were a bit lacking last season,” Oliver Naesen told Sporza. “Every week we were told that we had to do better and that the points are of vital importance. They are very busy with it.”

According to Stan Dewulf, the sponsors are the driving force behind these concerns. “It is important for them that we get points, maintain our WorldTour status and be able to ride the Tour de France.”

That is why, according to Dewulf, the team will have to race differently. “We will sometimes have to make tactical decisions during the race that are contradictory to what cycling is all about. In WorldTour Classics we will not bet on one horse. The tactic will be to get into the final with two men and finish as close as possible for the points.”

This can lead to strange situations. “What if you are away with five rides and no one is driving? Should you still be the engine to finish 4th or 5th and score points with certainty? Or can you race tactically and then let a group of 25 riders return with the risk that you will finish further down. These are issues that the team DS’s will have to solve.”

The team needs points:


Movistar Sign Davide Cimolai
Movistar have signed Davide Cimolai. Marca released the news on Thursday and the team has confirmed the signing on Saturday. The Italian is on a one-year contract.

The 34 year-old Cimolai rode for Cofidis for the past two seasons, but didn’t get a contract extension with the French WorldTeam. As a result, he is free to go wherever he wants in 2024. Cimolai made his professional debut in 2010 with the then Liquigas-Doimo team. Two years later, he switched to Lampre-ISD (2012-2016), after which he also raced for Groupama-FDJ (2017-2018) and Israel Start-Up Nation (2019-2021). His palmarès include victories in Paris-Nice, the Tour of Catalonia and the Trofeo Laigueglia.

“Inside of me, I was content and calm with my career ending this very 2023 season, because the last few months had been really hard from a mental standpoint, and my decision had already been taken not to continue. Only an offer from an important team could change that, and it was the case with the Movistar Team. It’s and honour and a source of immense joy for me to be part of such a prestigious squad, where I’m sure I’ll find the right atmosphere and get back the confidence and enthusiasm I had lost. I’m joining the team with the ambition of offering my very best. I’m aware that I’m here fundamentally to support Gaviria, and I hope that my help, together with the rest of the team’s, can lead us to great victories. I want to take advantage from this announcement to especially thank Eusebio Unzué for the opportunity – I had the pleasure to meeting him and he’s been such a nice person to me.”

Davide Cimolai to Movistar:


Imanol Erviti Possible INEOS Grenadiers DS
Imanol Erviti recently ended his 20 year professional career. The 40 year-old Spaniard raced for Movistar, and its predecessors, throughout his career, but he may still be in peloton next year as DS with a different team.

According to the website Diario de Noticias, Erviti is in the running as a new team DS with INEOS Grenadiers. There have been some changes in the British team recently; Rod Ellingworth handed in his resignation as deputy team boss earlier this month. He was the temporary replacement for Sir Dave Brailsford as manager. According to The Telegraph, Brailsford could also leave INEOS Grenadiers. He would have a role with Manchester United FC, as INEOS owner Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly working on a takeover. Roger Hammond, Head of Racing, is also leaving, possibly to Israel-Premier Tech.

INEOS Grenadiers needs a new sports director for 2024 and Erviti is a possibility and he speaks good English. It is unclear whether the Spaniard, who was a road captain within his old team Movistar, has actually been contacted.

Erviti turned professional in 2005 with Illes Balears – Caisse d’Epargne, a predecessor of the current Movistar team. He remained loyal to Eusebio Unzué’s team throughout his career. During that career he was mainly a domestique, but he also won three times: A stage victory in the Vuelta a España in 2008 and 2010, and in 2011 he won the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja.

Imanol Erviti to be a INEOS Grenadiers DS:


Still a Lot of WorldTour Riders Without a Contract for 2024
The 2023 road season has finished and many teams are getting ready for 2024. There are still quite a few WorldTour riders who have no contract for next season. Most teams have filled their roster, training camps have been planned for December and January and the race programs are being organised.

WorldTour Riders Without a Contracts for 2024:

Robert Stannard

Arkea-B&B Hotels
Nicolas Edet

Astana Qazaqstan
Leonardo Basso
David De la Cruz
Joe Dombrowski
Yuriy Natarov
Antonio Nibali
Nurbergen Nurlykhassym
Alexandr Riabushenko
Andrey Zeits

Bahrain Victorious
Hermann Pernsteiner

Giovanni Aleotti
Victor Koretzky

André Carvalho
Davide Cimolai (possibly Movistar)

Decathlon AG2R La Mondiale
Alex Baudin
Lawrence Naesen
Antoine Raugel

EF Education – EasyPost
Andrey Amador
Owain Doull
Odd Christian Eiking
Merhawi Kudus
Sean Quinn
Tom Scully
James Shaw
Łukasz Wiśniowski

INEOS Grenadiers
Cameron Wurf

Julius Johansen

Lidl Trek
Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier
Asbjørn Hellemose

Abner González

dsm-firmenich PostNL
Leon Heinschke

Jayco AlUla
Alexandre Balmer
Tsgabu Grmay
Lukas Pöstlberger

UAE Team Emirates
José Álvaro Hodeg
Michael Vink.

Joe Dombrowski still looking for a team:


cross world cup
Benidorm Wants Wout van Aert in Their Cross
The organisers of the World Cup in Benidorm hopes that Wout van Aert will participate in their cross in January. The Belgian is not yet sure whether he will ride the Spanish cross or not. “We will all have to push him a little to convince him,” said organiser Paul Momparler to Esciclismo.

In addition to the cross in Benidorm, the cross in Zonhoven is also not a certainty yet. “These crosses coincide with the team’s training camp in January and that causes snags. In addition, the accumulated fatigue just before and after the training camp also plays a role in the final assessment of whether starting fits in with the build-up towards the spring,” the Jumbo-Visma team said.

Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock have already confirmed their participation, so Momparler hopes for a battle between the ‘Big Three’. “The best riders in the World are participating, proof that a sunny cross in January is a perfect scenario. Van Aert, however, makes it depend on the first crosses on his calendar. He wants to see how he gets through the Christmas season. Van Aert will be in Alicante with his team by then, but he will have his cross equipment with him.”

“We will all have to push him a little to convince him to participate in Benidorm. Then he can ride his last cross of the season with us. We are fortunate that we can now get the three best riders in the World to compete. That may no longer be possible in a few years,” Momparler concluded.

Van der Poel had the upper hand in Benidorm last year:
benidorm 23


Grand Départ 2025: The Tour de France in the Land of the Giants

Key points:

  • The beginning to the 112th edition of the Tour de France has been presented at a press conference in Lille, the administrative centre of the Nord department. In 2025, the Grand Départ will focus on the qualities of the entire Hauts-de-France region, the Nord department and the European metropolis of Lille.
  • The date of 5th July has been set for the first stage, whose route will form a loop around Lille. Next, the Pas-de-Calais department will have pride of place as the pack crosses it from east to west between Lauwin-Planque and Boulogne-sur-Mer. After that, the pack will then set off from Valenciennes, which makes its return to the route of the Tour after a 34-year absence. Dunkirk, which hosted the Grand Départ in 2001 as well as a stage start on the Tour in 2022 will be welcoming the finish of the third stage. Lastly, the start in Amiens will be the last opportunity to thank the inhabitants of the Hauts-de-France region for their welcome, before the Tour heads off to new horizons.

Northern France will be welcoming new giants. A far cry from the imposing puppets we are used to seeing at carnivals, fairs, special street markets or on Paris-Roubaix, these 176 ones will be of human size and riding bikes, ready to do battle through the plains, valleys and mountains of France. Northern France knows all about cycling giants: 2 winners (Maurice Garin, an adopted northerner, in 1903, and Henri Cornet in 1904); 7 Yellow Jersey wearers (Jean Alavoine in 1922, Amédée Fournier in 1939, José Catieau in 1973, Martial Gayant in 1987, Cédric Vasseur in 1997, Laurent Desbiens in 1998 and Christophe Moreau in 2001); plus a legend in Jean Stablinski, with more 100 professional victories including 5 stages on the Tour de France between 1957 and 1967, a world championship title (1962) and four French championship titles (1960, 1962, 1963 and 1964).

For the 5th time, the Tour de France will set off from this cycling-mad region, the cradle of Paris-Roubaix. In 2001, for the most recent Grand Départ, from Dunkirk, Christophe Moreau grabbed the Yellow Jersey on completion of the prologue. This time, on a regular stage, the battle for the first Yellow Jersey of the race will be fought at high speed and the victor will have to be on top form to triumph in the land of the giants.

The European metropolis of Lille, the first site to host this Grand Départ, will also be the site for the edition’s first finish. On a stage that will form a loop around Lille, the wind will be a decisive factor: on roads open to the elements, the riders will have to be on their guard to avoid getting caught out. The fight for the best climber’s jersey should act as a curtain raiser for the battle for the Yellow Jersey: the slopes of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Mont Cassel (via its cobbled side) and the Mont Noir, forty kilometres from the finishing line, will be in the sights of the first breakaways of the edition. The sprinters will probably battle it out for victory at the end of a one kilometre-long straight, at the foot of the citadel.

The following day, the peloton will leave the Nord department to cross through the Pas-de-Calais for a very tough finale on the Côte d’Opale before the fight for stage victory in Boulogne-sur-Mer. The end of this second stage, which is tailor made for punchers, will be no easy task for the previous day’s winner if he is a pure sprinter. In addition to the upwardly inclined final straight, the slopes at Saint-Etienne-au-Mont and Outreau, located less than ten kilometres from the finishing line, mean it is very likely the pack’s tough guys will be battling for the stage win.

The race will return to the Nord department on 7th July for the last stage that will take place entirely within the confines of the Hauts-de-France region. Between Valenciennes and Dunkirk, watchfulness and tension in the peloton should be the order of the day. The start from Valenciennes and the first part of the stage do not hold any particular difficulty in store, unlike the finish, as the race nears Dunkirk, which could prove to be extremely tricky. Following the intermediate sprint at Isbergues, well-known to cycling aficionados, the route due north to the Côte de Cassel slope and then the finish of the stage promise to be spectacular if the wind invites itself to the party. On Tuesday 8th July, in Amiens, the historical capital of Picardy, it will be time for the Tour to leave the Hauts-de-France region for an as yet unknown destination…

The first four stages of the Tour de France 2025:
Saturday, July 5th, Stage 1: Lille Métropole > Lille Métropole, 185 km
Sunday, July 6th stage 2: Lauwin-Planque > Boulogne-sur-Mer, 209 km
Monday, July 7th, stage 3: Valenciennes > Dunkerque, 172 km
Tuesday, July 8th, stage 4: Amiens > ?



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