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The World Triathlon Executive Board, met via teleconference this Friday morning, has decided to extend the suspension of all activities of the International Federation until June 30th, due to the current situation worldwide with the COVID-19 outbreak. This suspension includes WTS Yokohama, three African (ATU) cups, three American (PATCO) events, four Asian (ASTC) cups, one event in Oceania (OTU) and eight in Europe, (ETU) plus the Yokohama Paratriathlon Series and a Paratriathlon World Cup.

 


The 23-year old from Great Ayton in Yorkshire, followed up his younger brother’s medal winning from earlier in the week with a silver in the individual time trial today.

Tanfield clocked a brilliant fast time of 48min 43.30 seconds on the course at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast only being beaten by Australia’s Cameron Meyer (48:13.04) with New Zealand’s Hamish Bond in the bronze medal place (48:45.45).

The 38km track around Currumbin Beach was not without some serious climbs but Tanfield paced himself perfectly and had gas left in the tank to push the last few kilometres as hard as he could.

I knew the big climb was going to be tough so I had geared the bike accordingly and I backed off bit leading into that part of the course. For the rest I just paced myself the best I could and once on the last few km’s I had something left so I gave it everything I had left all the way to the line. I am very happy with the result, congrats to Cam Meyer for the win, and huge thanks to my team (Canyon Eisberg) and all at home the fantastic support.”

Charlie Tanfield also had a great ride to finish 8th overall after setting the early pace with England’s 3rd rider, Ian Bibby in 9th.

Harry’s next event is the road race on Saturday.

Copyright © 2018 Tandem Sports

 


Scans following Matteo Trentin’s crash at Paris-Roubaix have revealed the 28-year-old has sustained a stable compression fracture of his thoracic spine.

The Italian crashed heavily on the d’Haveluy a Wallers sector with 100km remaining, was immediately placed in a neck brace and transported to hospital. He will spend another few days in hospital in a thoracic brace before returning home.

Mitchelton-SCOTT head doctor Robbart van Linschoten had a positive outlook for Trentin.

Matteo has a fracture in the thoracic region but thankfully the fracture is stable,” Dr van Linschoten said. “We will further consult with a neurosurgeon tomorrow before determining the best course of action from here.”

Whilst he will need some recovery time, I think we need to thankful that he doesn’t have anything more serious.”

In good spirits and in contact with him teammates, Trentin praised the medical team who were on the scene.

Obviously it’s a setback, but it’s just an injury and something that will heal. For that we have to be thankful,” Trentin said.

I want to thank the ambulance team that treated me on the scene. They were incredible, and kind. I couldn’t have asked for better treatment and support.”

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

Greg Van Avermaet stood on the podium for the first time during the spring classics after taking third place in a nail-biting edition of Record Bank E3 Harelbeke.

Eight riders formed the day's breakaway and quickly gained an advantage of more than six minutes in the lead up to the first sector, the Wolvemnberg.

With only two sectors in the first 100km of the 206.5km race, the race situation remained calm until a huge crash wiped out or blocked half the peloton with 108km remaining, and blocked Jempy Drucker, Stefan Küng, Jürgen Roelandts, and Michael Schär.

Van Avermaet was joined by Alberto Bettiol and Francisco Ventoso in the front group which immediately started to eat into the breakaway's advantage with a hard pace being set to maintain the split in the peloton.

An attack from Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert (Quickstep Floors) with 70km to go caused more splits behind as riders tried to chase, and created a small chase group featuring Van Avermaet and many of the other race favorites.

Terpstra and Lampaert established a one-minute advantage and with 55km remaining, Van Avermaet powered away from the rest of the chase group before being caught by Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Philippe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors).

Behind, the main peloton, featuring Küng and Roelandts, began to gain some ground and with 25km to go, caught Van Avermaet's group to strengthen the chase behind then-solo leader Terpstra.

The BMC Racing Team trio was working hard as part of the chasing group with each rider taking their turn at the front approaching the 20km to go mark.

Terpstra's advantage was holding steady at around 35 seconds as the race entered the final 10km of the day before a series of attacks, including two strong moves from Van Avermaet, saw the chasers start to close in on him.

Küng was driving hard at the front of the group as the gap fell to 15 seconds with just 3km to go and soon after, Roelandts went on the attack.

This move saw the chasing group strung out along the road heading under the flamme rouge. However, it all came back together again by the time the riders hit the finishing straight, 20 seconds behind the lone leader.

In the end, Terpstra was able to hold on to take the day's honors ahead of his teammate Philippe Gilbert and Van Avermaet, who dug deep in the closing meters and was able to find the extra kick needed to sprint on to the podium in third place.

Küng and Roelandts also showed their strength and determination in the final stages of today's race and finished 10th and 12th respectively.

Quotes from the Finish Line

Greg Van Avermaet:

"The problem was I did a lot of efforts in the middle of the race and then when the big group came back to us it was a bit hard for me to reset my legs and try to find a little bit of freshness again. It was hard to close [the gap]. We all had to work together and while we had three guys in there, the most important thing was that everyone worked together to try and pull Terpstra back but he was super strong. On the big road, we went pretty fast but we didn't come much closer to him so I think in the end, probably the strongest guy won."

"I was super happy with my legs and my race. I put in a lot of effort and it was also a good training for me. In the end, I am also pretty happy with my result. I am on the podium and okay, it is not a win but I know how hard it is to win these kinds of races so I am pretty happy with what I did today."

"Stefan did everything he could to keep it rolling and also Jürgen tried to do his best with a few attacks but it was super hard because if we had really taken the lead with two guys, the others could have saved their legs too and that would also have made them harder to beat. There were some fast guys like Trentin in the group. We had Gilbert who never did one pull and his team were also not pulling so it was a big risk. We tried to do our best and it is sometimes pretty complicated in a race."

Stefan Küng:

"First of all, I was lucky I didn't go down in the crash. I was stuck in it and my bike was broken but I got my spare bike pretty quickly and then I could start to chase. It was quite hard to get back there because it was an uphill section with a bit of headwind but together with Moscon we managed to get back in there. I felt like 'okay this is the first group now' and then Jürgen told me about the forty guys in front with Greg. To be honest, when they couldn't get closer, it was always around 1'30", I thought the race could be over. But then we caught group after group, rider after rider. Jürgen and I worked well together and with his experience, he helped to get me into the right position. We were able to stay up there with the best guys before catching Greg's group."

"It was then a question of what we did from there. We had the numbers but Quick-Step Floors still had two guys so, if we closed the gap and they sat on then the attacking would start all over again. I tried to make a little selection but it was hard. We did our best and to be honest I don't know what we could have done differently. We finished with a podium place and we know that we are ready as a team and that's something that we can take away from the race."

"Today's result was my best in a classic. I was feeling good the whole day and even when we hit the Kwaremont, I knew that I had it in my legs to follow the strongest guys. For me, it was definitely a bit of a confidence boost as over the last few years I have always had some issues heading into the classics. I was maybe a little over excited and I was always caught up in crashes or had mechanicals. Now, I know that if everything works well that I have the legs to be in a good position. It is good to be up there as that's what we live for, to race for the win and I hope to be up there in the final of the next races too."

Jürgen Roelandts:

"There were some captains from other teams also stuck behind the crash, namely Naesen and the Astana Pro Team guys and Sep Vanmarcke. Those three teams were really pulling the whole time but of course at the front, they were also pulling. It was really a race in every part of the peloton so that made it hard. It was a very open race but I think Stefan and I kept a good position in the front all the time and we also showed we had good legs. At one point it was easy because we were with eight guys and Greg was in front so we didn't have to ride but then we came to Greg and Terpstra was still in front so we needed to start riding obviously. I think Terpstra did a really big effort because we were turning with nine guys and he stayed out in front so I think he deserved the victory. I think everyone was on the limit because some of the other guys had also come from the back."

"I tried an all or nothing approach with 1.5km to go but Trentin closed the gap and it was then over for me for the sprint. Greg always has a good sprint after a hard race and he showed that today. After my fifth place in Milan-San Remo and being in the front group here I think I showed some good signs for the next two weeks. The team was also in a good condition so I am looking forward to the races coming up."

Sports Director, Fabio Baldato:

"The best thing to take from today is the condition of the riders. I saw a great Stefan Kung and Jurgen Roelandts. Stefan was one of the last to start from the crash and he was able to make it back into the race. Greg Van Avermaet did an amazing ride like always. Quickstep had the numbers in front and they rode well, and they put other riders in difficultly. The good thing is the performance of the team with three riders in the top 12 and Greg on the podium. Of course, we can talk together and see what we can do better, what we did wrong, how to improve communication in the final between all of us, even me, to be better."

Race Profile

Record Bank E3 Harelbeke

Harelbeke > Harelbeke (206.5km)

Top 3: 1. Nikki Terpstra (Quickstep-Floors), 2. Philippe Gilbert (Quickstep-Floors), 3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team).

BMC Racing Team top 3: 3. Greg Van Avermaet, 10. Stefan Küng, 12. Jürgen Roelandts.

 

Tiesj Benoot has finished fifth in E3 Harelbeke. Despite the chase of among other a strong Tiesj Benoot, Niki Terpstra succeeded in finishing off a solo effort.

A crash with 110 kilometres to go caused a split in the bunch. Benoot, De Buyst, Hofland and Sieberg were all part of the first peloton of about forty riders. On the Taaienberg, at about seventy kilometres from the end, also the first peloton fell apart. Lampaert and Terpstra jumped away after the top. They caught Gaudin and Lighthart, two members of an early break of eight. Not much later the duo from Quick-Step left them behind. Tiesj Benoot tried to close the gap with the help of Greg Van Avermaet, but with thirty kilometres to go, they got caught by a group of about ten riders, including Oliver Naesen and Sep Vanmarcke. On the cobbles of the Varent Terpstra distanced his teammate Lampaert. The chasing group with Benoot reduced the gap on Terpstra up to twenty seconds, but there were lots of attacks and the pace decreased afterwards. Terpstra won ahead of his teammate Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet. Tiesj Benoot sprinted to the fifth place.

Tiesj Benoot: “I hadn’t participated in any races for ten days, but I was happy with today’s condition and I felt strong. I gave everything I had, all day long, but unfortunately we never had the perfect composition in the chasing group to close the gap. Terpstra was obviously very strong today, otherwise you can’t ride at the front for tens of kilometres and hold off a chasing group.”

I just escaped the crash. At that moment we were pretty well organised as a team. Together with three teammates I was part of the first group when the bunch split. We immediately took control to stay ahead with that group. I tried several times to bridge to Lampaert and Terpstra. It was a pity the plans of BMC weren’t clear, because that could have been the key to catching Terpstra at the end. Anyway, I am satisfied with this fifth place.”

It was a hard race and that suits me much better than a race where there’s a lot of speculation and an explosion at the end. Next week it’s the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a race that should suit me even better. I’m ready for it.”

This afternoon Bjorg Lambrecht finished tenth on the fifth stage of Volta a Catalunya. He finished in the reduced peloton, fourteen seconds after stage winner Jarlinson Pantano. Pantano was a member of the early breakaway, of which Maxime Monfort had also been part of.

 


Following on from last weekend’s crash at Milan-San Remo, Mark Cavendish has provided a positive update on his condition.

After further medical examination this week it’s been confirmed that as expected Cavendish has avoided any serious, long term injury and is now working hard to recover from the broken rib and damaged ankle he suffered as a result of the crash last Saturday.

Cavendish has however been forced into making immediate adjustments to his race schedule as he recovers from his injuries which include the disappointment of having to pull out of this year’s Commonwealth Games.

Although there has been no specific time frame pencilled in for a return Cavendish has confirmed he hopes to be back racing within a matter of weeks, rather than months, but will take all the time necessary to allow him to recover to full fitness.

Cavendish said, “Although it’s ultimately positive news that there’s been no serious damage sustained following the crash I am hugely disappointed to have to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games.

I am immensely proud to represent the Isle of Man and was looking forward to a successful Games with the team. However, unfortunately it’s just come a little too soon in my recovery.

I would like to thank Andrew Roche and the whole team for their amazing support and wish them all the very best, and I’ll be proudly supporting them from home.

I’ll now be working tirelessly on my recovery and will be liaising closely with my team at Dimension Data before announcing a return to racing.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the huge amount of support and well wishes I’ve received following the crash last weekend. I will be doing everything I can to get back as quickly as possible”.

Copyright © 2018 Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka

 


In the past 25 years, no other team has been as successful as Quick-Step Floors in E3 Harelbeke, one of the most prestigious cobblestone races on the calendar and a good indicator on the riders’ form with one week to go to De Ronde van Vlaanderen. The outfit managed by Patrick Lefevere took five victories at E3 Harelbeke and six other podiums, most recently at the 2017 edition, when Philippe Gilbert came in a close second.

The 2012 World Champion will be again at the start, ready to resume racing six days after a race incident prevented him from getting in the mix in the final kilometers of Milano-Sanremo, the season’s first Monument. Two other riders who have finished on the podium of the Belgian Classic – Zdenek Stybar and Niki Terpstra – will also be part of the Quick-Step Floors team for Friday’s race, which will be completed by Tim Declercq, Iljo Keisse, Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal, at his first outing for Quick-Step Floors in a classic.

Starting and finishing in Harelbeke, E3 will take the peloton for a trek into the Flemish Ardennes, where 15 hills will season the 206.1km route and make up for some spectacular racing. Last four of these are the Paterberg, Oude Kwaremont, Karnemelkbeekstraat and Tiegemberg, the 1000m-long ascent averaging 6% and topping just 16 kilometers from the finish, which is better known for being the first ever climb used by De Ronde, 98 years ago.

Two days later, Keisse will be replaced by Elia Viviani, the most successful sprinter of 2018. The Italian has clocked up six wins so far, most recent of which came Wednesday, at the Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne, where he got his first European victory of the season. For Viviani, this will be his fourth appearance at Gent-Wevelgem (250.8 kilometers), which this year runs its 80th edition, one that includes no less than 11 climbs, the most iconic being Kemmelberg, a savage hill with 20% maximum gradients and a key strategic point in the race.

E3 Harelbeke is one of the hardest races in the world, but one without secrets, in which the team tactics will play a major role. We worked hard in the past months to arrive in the best condition for this important time of the year and we want to be up there, not only because it will be a good repetition for Flanders, but also because it’s a very important and beautiful race”, said sports director Tom Steels, a double winner of Gent-Wevelgem in the ‘90s. “Concerning Gent-Wevelgem, everything should be decided on the Kemmelberg, but we could have echelons in the second part of the race, and even earlier, after just 50 kilometers. Everybody will look at us knowing we have options for every scenario and we are aiming for a good result, but we’ll keep our cards close to the chest.”

Image credits Quick-Step Floors/ © Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team - © Luc Claessen / Getty Images - Photo credit: © Luc Claessen / Getty Images

23.03 Record Bank E3 Harelbeke (BEL) 1.UWT

Riders Tim Declercq (BEL)

Philippe Gilbert (BEL)

Iljo Keisse (BEL)

Yves Lampaert (BEL)

Florian Sénéchal (FRA)

Zdenek Stybar (CZE)

Niki Terpstra (NED)

Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL)

Tom Steels (BEL)

Length 206.1 km

Start 12:15

Finish 17:30

Website www.e3harelbeke.be

25.03 Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields (BEL) 1.UWT

Riders Tim Declercq (BEL)

Philippe Gilbert (BEL)

Yves Lampaert (BEL)

Florian Sénéchal (FRA)

Zdenek Stybar (CZE)

Niki Terpstra (NED)

Elia Viviani (ITA)

Sports Director Wilfried Peeters (BEL)

Tom Steels (BEL)

Length 250.8 km

Start 11:25

Finish 18:01

Website www.gent-wevelgem.be

 


The Italian’s first European victory of the season came after a perfectly executed plan of the team

Despite the race format being changed, Driedaagse Brugge – De Panne continued to attract many important names at the start for the 42nd edition, which began from the beautiful Grote Markt, where the Ronde van Vlaanderen used to start between 1998 and 2016. The 202.4km-long course packed five climbs, including the infamous Kemmelberg, and three cobbled sectors, all of which featured in the first half of the race.

A breakaway comprising six men – Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon), David Boucher (Tarteletto-Isorex), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare), Ylber Safer (Tarteletto-Isorex) and Brian van Goethem (Roompot) – formed soon after the start and built a nine-minute advantage, which prompted a response from Quick-Step Floors, who sent Dwars door West-Vlaanderen winner Rémi Cavagna at the front of the peloton to control the leaders’ gap.

No splits occurred in the field on the hilly section of the race, but the status quo changed with 66 kilometers to go, as several teams decided to lift the pace in the crosswinds, hoping they will catch some favourites off-guard. Elia Viviani, together with two of his Quick-Step Floors teammates, made the cut, but a lack of collaboration allowed the chasing group to come back, just before entering on the first of the two laps around De Panne.

Ten kilometers from the finish, the pack was down to 50 riders and the escapees close to being reeled in, when a sudden acceleration blew the race apart and left around 15 riders at the front, including three of Quick-Step Floors. Eventually, the race once again came back together in De Panne, where Davide Martinelli, Florian Sénéchal and Maximiliano Richeze controlled the peloton and brought Elia Viviani to the front going into the final bend.

The 29-year-old Italian got himself into the perfect slot, carefully bided his time and waited for his opponents to make the first move, before coming around Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) with 100 meters to go and taking his sixth victory of the year, which makes him one of the few riders to have won at least one race in each month since the start of the season.

It’s my first European victory of the year and it gives me huge joy, as I was disappointed after Milano-Sanremo. When you start as the main favourite, there’s always more pressure, and I’m happy that I finished off my teammates’ fantastic job! It’s also my first Belgian win for a Belgian squad, and that’s also important. This success comes as confirmation of the good form I have been enjoying since the start of the year, in Australia, and then in the Middle East. We proved how strong we are and this bodes really well ahead of our next races”, Elia Viviani explained after netting Quick-Step Floors’ 17th UCI victory of the season.

Elia Viviani De Panne Victory/ © Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team - © Kei Tsuji / Getty Images - Photo credit: © Kei Tsuji / Getty Images

 


Rémi Cavagna turned frustration into aggressiveness and disappointment into huge joy as he stormed to victory at the 72nd edition of Dwars door West-Vlaanderen (189.3 kilometers), making the most out of Quick-Step Floors numerical advantage and tactical acumen to land the team’s second win in just four days, after the one in Le Samyn, where Niki Terpstra and Philippe Gilbert took first and second, respectively.

This time, the main protagonists were 22-year-old Cavagna and his countryman Florian Sénéchal, part of a very young Quick-Step Floors squad who compensated the lack of experience with enthusiasm, ambition and some brilliant racing, blowing the peloton apart and infiltrating four men into a nine-man escape, which got clear after the original break of the day been brought to heel. Fabio Jakobsen and Maximiliano Richeze were the other two riders of the team who booked a place in the group before entering the local laps, where the peloton’s surge of pace reeled in all but three of the attackers.

Only survivors of that break were Cavagna, Sénéchal and Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal), and the trio worked well together, building a margin of 50 seconds and digging deep to hold off the peloton in the final 30 kilometers of the event which had all the main ingredients of a Flemish race: cobbles, hills, strong winds and lashing rain, which split the pack without any mercy.

Despite being dropped some 20-odd kilometers from the finish in Ichtegem, Cavagna channeled his inner Flandrien spirit and threw in a valiant effort which saw him return to the front inside the last ten kilometers. The second-year pro didn’t stop there and kept on going, quickly putting a handful of seconds between him and the chasing duo, from which Sénéchal attacked with two kilometers remaining, leaving his opponent in the wake.

Rémi – the sixth Quick-Step Floors rider to put his name on the winners’ list this season – had enough time to celebrate his special victory, which came under the heavy rain that had accompanied the riders throughout the day, since the start in Nieuwpoort. A rider with panache and a huge appetite for attacking and shaping the race, the Frenchman was over the moon at the finish line, where he had just signed off the team’s 13th UCI win of the season.

It was super hard and cold today, but I felt good since the start of the race. Actually, I have been feeling good since last season and have waited for this victory for a long time. I wanted this win so badly, I can’t tell you how important it’s for me to finally get it. I have made mistakes in the past, attacking too early, so today I said to myself ‘Don’t attack, wait, wait, wait!’ and it worked out perfectly in the end.”

The race was full gas from the start, and in the end, after catching the breakaway, I got a gap together with Florian and Frison. We had the upper hand in that group, but Frison was really strong and at one point I even got dropped on the cobbles, but kept calm, knowing I had enough left in the tank. My legs were really hurting, but I ignored the pain and managed to come back, and then I launched a now-or-never attack, powering ahead with all I had. I needed this win and it gives me a huge boost of confidence and even more motivation for the next races, where I’ll continue to give my best and help my teammates”, concluded Rémi after becoming the second French winner of the Belgian race.

Quick-Step Floors’ crushing dominance in Dwars door West-Vlaanderen was completed by Fabio Jakobsen, who nabbed his best result since turning pro after sprinting to fourth place, and Ecuadorian Champion Jhonatan Narvaez, who celebrated his birthday by taking a remarkable seventh for his fourth consecutive top-10 of the season.

Sports director Tom Steels had only words of praise for the riders: “We rode like a true team today and everybody did a great job from kilometer zero, despite the heavy rain and low temperatures we had from the start. We controlled things, rode an intelligent race and proved what these young guys are capable of. Cavagna was very strong and came back after being dropped on the cobbles, Florian showcased again his solid form, Fabio confirmed the potential he has by winning the sprint of the first group, just as in Le Samyn, while Narvaez – who rode his first ever race on cobblestones – put in an outstanding effort. I am very proud of our riders!”

© Quick-Step Floors Cycling Team - © Nico Vereecken/PhotoNews - Photo credit: © Nico Vereecken/PhotoNews

 

Two races were scheduled for Lotto Soudal today: the opening stage of Paris-Nice and Dwars door West-Vlaanderen. The team achieved a good result in both races! Frederik Frison could step on the podium of Dwars door West-Vlaanderen as third, while Tim Wellens got fourth in a thrilling uphill sprint at Paris-Nice.

The opening stage of Paris-Nice was only 135 kilometres long and took the riders from Chatou to Meudon where the finish line was drawn on top of a hill of 1.9 kilometres with an average gradient of 5.4%. The early break (Périchon, Roelandts and Rolland) got reeled in at fifteen kilometres from the finish. Then Lotto Soudal took control of the bunch. Alexis Vuillermoz attacked at the bottom of the climb, but the peloton caught him on time. Arnaud Démare was just a tad faster than Gorka Izagirre in a very close sprint. Christophe Laporte completed the top three, ahead of Tim Wellens.

Tim Wellens: “Yesterday, we did a recon of the last 25 kilometres of this stage. I liked the finish when I saw it. We had seen there was a lot of street furniture in the last kilometres, so the team kept me safe at the front of the peloton. As expected, it was very hectic in the finale. The team did an excellent job for me today!”

I was riding at the front of the peloton when we started the climb. It was a high pace, but once Vuillermoz had attacked the pace dropped. For a moment it looked like Vuillermoz would make it, but the last 800 metres were very hard. We did catch Vuillermoz before the finish, despite the nice gap he had created. I chose the wheel of Démare, but was pushed away. When we passed by Vuillermoz, I had to hold back for a moment. Maybe I could have set an even better result if I had started my sprint earlier, but it’s always easy to analyse a sprint afterwards. We were all dead beat at the finish. Our team started Paris-Nice very well, we were the only complete team at the front in the finale. Tomorrow we aim for a sprint with André Greipel!”

At Dwars door West-Vlaanderen Boucher, Cataford and Coenen got up to seven minutes advantage, but already before the first of four laps of thirteen kilometres a new front group was established. Frederik Frison closed the gap on his own and then he rode away with Rémi Cavagna and Florian Sénéchal, two Quick-Step riders. Cavagna won the race, ahead of his teammate Sénéchal. Frison finished third, a nice result after all bad luck from last year when the 25-year-old rider had a pelvic fracture and glandular fever which meant he was out for almost the entire year.

Frederik Frison: “I am definitely happy with this third place, although I think more was possible with the legs I had but unfortunately I had two Quick-Step riders with me. They were not stronger, but it’s hard to beat two teammates.”

Just before entering the local circuit a front group of ten was formed without a Lotto Soudal rider in it. We chased the leaders to keep the gap as small as possible and at the beginning of the first lap I made the jump to the front. The front group had split by that time, which meant I had to catch two groups. I joined Cavagna and Sénéchal when they attacked. That was a difficult moment after the effort I had just done, but we immediately cooperated well. I knew the situation was far from ideal. I wanted to get rid of at least one of them on the cobbles and Cavagna did drop, but Sénéchal didn’t pull and that way Cavagna could return to the front. Then I knew they would attack one after another. When Cavagna had gone solo, it was impossible to close the gap on my own.”

This third place feels good. After all bad luck from last year I could show that I’m back. I had a good winter and last month I went on an altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada, together with Tiesj Benoot. That turned out well for us both.”

I am very grateful to the team for keeping their faith in me and for extending my contract by two years despite the difficult times I had in 2017. I wanted to thank the team by doing well this season and this is definitely a good start.”

 

Tiesj Benoot has won Strade Bianche today after an impressive effort! It’s the first pro victory ever for the nearly 24-year-old Lotto Soudal rider! And what a victory it is! This twelfth edition of Strade Bianche (WorldTour) became an epic race because of the cold and the rain that made the gravel sectors very muddy.

The race started well for Lotto Soudal as European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts was part of a breakaway of eight riders. This front group got six minutes advantage over the bunch that split early on in the race. With sixty kilometres to go, Campenaerts and the other escapees got reeled in by a large chasing group including Tiesj Benoot. Next, about ten riders jumped away. Among those riders were Kwiatkowski, Van Aert and Valverde. A strong group, no doubt. After Campenaerts had pulled at the head of the chasing group to keep the gap as small as possible, Tiesj Benoot made the jump to the front on the eighth gravel sector, towards Monte Sante Marie.

Not long after that move, Romain Bardet and world champion cyclo-cross Wout Van Aert attacked at the front. They could create a gap of one minute. The pace in the chasing group slowed down and that was the sign for Tiesj Benoot to take initiative at thirty kilometres from the finish. He was accompanied by Pieter Serry. They reduced the gap to 35 seconds, but when the gap started growing again Benoot decided to leave Serry behind. Benoot closed the gap rather quickly and joined Bardet and Van Aert with fifteen kilometres remaining. Benoot attacked on the last gravel sector and entered the last ten kilometres solo. He kept on increasing his lead and could enjoy the last moments of the race before triumphing on Il Campo in Siena! Romain Bardet finished second, ahead of Wout Van Aert.

Earlier this week, Benoot had said he wanted to do better than his two eighth places in the previous two editions of Strade Bianche. Mission accomplished!

Tiesj Benoot: “After the break with Victor Campenaerts had been caught, Victor did a lot of pulling. When there was no cooperation in the group anymore, both sports director Bart Leysen and I thought it would be best to attack. That turned out to be the right decision. The same scenario got repeated when Bardet and Van Aert rode together at the front. I felt my legs were good and that I had to try something, because there was no team left that would close the gap. Serry was the perfect companion, he immediately helped chasing. I noticed that I was better than him though and that’s why I decided to leave him behind. I knew the part where I accelerated from the past two years and I knew that it would be possible to still close the gap. I succeeded in closing the gap pretty smoothly and then I realized I was the strongest at the front. I attacked on the last gravel sector and immediately had a nice lead. Then it was a matter of not crashing and having no flat tyre. When the team car rode behind me, I was less worried. I didn’t want to let my first pro victory slip through my fingers!”

I had a super day. It was cold and it rained, but I never had problems with that kind of weather. The Strade Bianche is one of my favourite races and one of the races that suits me best. Only strong riders have won this race and it’s wonderful to see my name among them! The altitude training camp at Sierra Nevada clearly was the perfect preparation. If this first pro victory adds any pressure? The expectations have always been high since I got fifth at Ronde van Vlaanderen 2015 as a neo-pro. I can cope with that really well. I always kept believing in myself and I knew this victory would come one day.”

 

BMC Racing Team will line up at Tirreno-Adriatico next week (7 - 13 March) with a strong team with multiple objectives, after Richie Porte was ruled out of racing due to illness.

"Richie Porte developed an upper respiratory infection after Volta ao Algarve which forced him to miss the best part of a week's training. Given Tirreno-Adriatico was one of Richie's goal races this season, it did not make sense to line up when his preparation was far from ideal. Richie and the BMC Racing Team management and medical team agreed that it was in his best interests to miss Tirreno-Adriatico and adjust his race program, in order to recover properly." BMC Racing Team Chief Medical Officer Dr. Max Testa explained

Sports Director Maximilian Sciandri said BMC Racing Team will be targeting both stage wins and the General Classification at the seven-day UCI WorldTour stage race.

"We are going to Tirreno-Adriatico with various ambitions, and it all starts with defending our team time trial victory from 2016 and 2017. There are then a couple of stages that should suit Greg Van Avermaet, who we know is in good shape and is always motivated to do well. Looking at the General Classification, Damiano Caruso will take on a leadership role, and we are confident that he can step up and show the form we know he has. We will also see what Rohan Dennis can do, and I'm sure he will be motivated for the final time trial again," Sciandri explained.

Caruso is looking to challenge himself on home soil.

"It is always nice to race Tirreno-Adriatico, and I always like racing in Italy. This year will be a hard race because there are a lot of really hard days including one stage with almost 5000 meters of elevation. We have a strong team lining up with different goals. We start with the TTT which is really important for us and then we also have Greg Van Avermaet who can go for a few stages. A new scenario has opened up for me at this year's race, and hopefully, I can try to fight for the GC but with a day by day philosophy and with no pressure. There are many champions in this race, so it is very difficult to get a result but I have nothing to lose, and so I will give it a try," Caruso said.

Dennis, who finished second in 2017, has his sights set on the final individual time trial.

"I'm looking forward to going back to Tirreno-Adriatico next week. One main goal of the team will be to win the opening team time trial again, and we are motivated to do that. For me, the individual time trial will, of course, be another target and I hope to repeat my success from last year. In between the two, we will see what happens," Dennis added.

Tirreno-Adriatico (7 - 13 March)

Rider Roster: Alberto Bettiol (ITA), Patrick Bevin (NZL), Damiano Caruso (ITA), Rohan Dennis (AUS), Stefan Küng (SUI), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)

Sports Directors: Maximilian Sciandri (ITA), Valerio Piva (ITA)

 

Tejay van Garderen will line up at Paris-Nice, his first UCI WorldTour stage race of the season, with a well-balanced team to support the American's General Classification objectives.

Sports Director Fabio Baldato said both van Garderen and the team are motivated for a good result in France.

"Tejay van Garderen is our outright leader at Paris-Nice and after a strong performance at Volta ao Algarve, I think he can produce another good result in France. Having lived in Nice, Tejay is familiar with the climbs on the final two days and he will have good climbing support with Nicolas Roche, Dylan Teuns, and Alessandro de Marchi," Baldato explained.

"For the flat stages, Jempy Drucker, Simon Gerrans, and Jürgen Roelandts are excellent riders to have around Tejay, so we have a well-balanced team lining up. Tejay put in a strong time trial in Portugal and this will be another important day for a good overall result at Paris-Nice."

Van Garderen has lined up at Paris-Nice on five occasions and was last at the start line in 2015.

"Volta ao Algarve was a good form builder and confidence booster. To be able to nab a podium result was a good way to start the season as well as a chance to learn what I needed to address in training heading into Paris-Nice. I've done some more work on the time trial bike in preparation for stage 4," van Garderen said.

"The last time I raced Paris-Nice was in 2015 where I had a disastrous day in the cold, so hopefully we can learn from that and correct the mistakes from the past and make a solid push for a high General Classification result. With the strength, experience, and motivation BMC Racing Team is bringing to Paris Nice we shouldn't be satisfied with anything less than a top result."

Paris-Nice (4-10 March)

Rider Roster: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Jempy Drucker (LUX), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Nicolas Roche (IRL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Dylan Teuns (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).

Sports Directors: Fabio Baldato (ITA), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL).