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UnitedHealthcare's riders are competing under a cloud of uncertainty this week at the Colorado Classic after news broke earlier this year that the team's title sponsor will not return next season. But that didn't slow down either the men's or women's squads during Friday's Vail Pass time trial. Katie Hall and Leah Thomas started things rolling for the blue-and-white team by taking the top two places in their race, respectively. Gavin Mannion and Serghei Tvetcov followed suit a couple of hours later, with Mannion taking top honours and Tvetcov coming in second place behind him. Hall and Mannion now also lead their respective overall standings. The podium was filled with the UHC logo and kit, and the timing couldn't have been better as both teams are racing in the US for the final time.ADVERTISEMENT "It feels really special and a little bittersweet as a team because our team is maybe folding; we're still looking for sponsors," said Hall, a five-year veteran of the team. "So to go one-two in both the men's and women's race just kind of shows that we really have a special thing going, at least on the women's side, and I know that the men do, too." Team owner Thierry Attias told Cyclingnews earlier this week that he has set an August 30 deadline to find a new sponsor for the team after he was unable to meet the August 15 deadline to re-apply for the men's Pro Continental licence. "The team has not requested a Pro Conti licence at this point," Attias said. "We are still waiting on final decisions from two potential partners."
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In August, nearing the end of a long season, a rider's motivation has the tendency to wax and wane. In Sint-Pieters-Leeuw on Friday morning, Michael Valgren (Astana) breezily confessed that he was not exactly inspired by the fare that awaited him on stage 5 of the BinckBank Tour, a flat run towards Lanaken. Fortunately for the Dane, the final weekend of the race features two stages that seem better tailored to his dextrous talents. "It depends. Some days the motivation is good and some days it's not so good. I'm motivated for tomorrow but on a day like today, I'd rather be on the couch relaxing, but you have to finish the stages because I get to the stages I want," Valgren told Cyclingnews. "But I'm motivated for the races in Canada too and I'm using this to get back into the race rhythm after the Tour de France. Hopefully I can be good there and finish the season strongly." The early part of Valgren's year could scarcely have gone much better. Victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad meant that his spring was already success before the end of February, but he followed that breakout win with a fine fourth place finish at the Tour of Flanders and a canny victory at Amstel Gold Race.ADVERTISEMENT Those results elevated the 26-year-old's status from that of future promise to a rather more immediate guarantee of success, and an orderly queue of suitors formed. Earlier this month, he confirmed that he will leave Astana for Dimension Data in 2019. "I think Dimension Data are passionate about me and I can be the captain in the Classics," Valgren said. "I was also a captain here, but we had four or five captains, so I had to compete with my teammates a bit. At Dimension Data, I really feel the support I'm getting will be really big." Valgren's assurance on the bike seems matched by his confidence off it. When he arrived to sign on at E3 Harelbeke in March, for instance, he responded in the affirmative when asked by speaker Michel Wuyts if he felt he could win the race. "Yeah, and the Ronde too," Valgren shot back. "Well, that's what I'll try to do. I'm not racing for fun. This is a tough sport and I want to show people I'm a tough guy." Cobbles and Ardennes
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All season long, it seems, Greg Van Avermaet is always up there. The Belgian may not have landed a Classic victory in 2018, but amid all the questions as to whether Gouden Greg's imperial phase had passed, his sheer consistency throughout the Spring was somewhat overlooked, as he knitted together top-five finishes at the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and E3 Harelbeke. There was precious little respite thereafter, save for a couple of weeks of rest after overall victory at May's Tour de Yorkshire. At the Tour de France in July, Van Avermaet spent more than a week in the maillot jaune and came within inches of a stage win in Roubaix. The two weekends after La Grande Boucle saw him take 4th at the Clasica San Sebastian and then ride the European Championships in Glasgow. That same night, he caught a plane to the Netherlands to report for duty for the BinckBank Tour. It has been, by any measure, a most exacting schedule.ADVERTISEMENT "I tried to recover as good as possible in the days up to now. I did an OK time trial on Tuesday, I think, and that was the hardest stage because it was only two days after the European Championships," Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw on Friday. "I hope to do a good final weekend here, that's the thing. Hopefully, I can move up on GC and maybe win a stage. I think the parcours is not really super good for me, but I'll try as best as possible." Van Avermaet enters the final two days of the BinckBank Tour in 24th place, some 58 seconds down on overall leader Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida). A repeat of his podium finish of 2015 seems unlikely, but Sunday's final stage over the Muur and Bosberg is tailored perfectly to his talents. "The last day is maybe the hardest one so I'll try to have a good day there," Van Avermaet said. Worlds
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On Thursday evening, Team Sunweb were the fastest team over the 24.3-kilometre Ladies Tour of Norway team time trial, a stand-alone event before the three-day race starting Friday 17 August. Sports director Hans Timmermans was happy with the result and confident in his team's strength looking forward to the defence of their World Championships TTT title in September. The six-rider team - consisting of Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Liane Lippert, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera and Ruth Winder - won convincingly, beating Mitchelton-Scott by 38 seconds and Cervélo-Bigla by 1:09. "The six riders made the difference, but we have 10 very strong riders who can come in and compete," said Timmermans. "The whole team works together like a machine. After doing the reconnaissance twice, we knew that it would be a difficult TTT. We executed it well, using the particular strengths of our riders."ADVERTISEMENT The Team Sunweb riders also received a special prize on the podium - one that is not unusual for Norwegian races. 15 kilograms of salmon were awarded to the winning team, and Team Sunweb got another 10kg on top of that as they were also the fastest up the finishing climb to the Fredriksten fortress. This will likely keep the team fuelled for a while. Amanda Spratt and her Mitchelton-Scott team finished second in the TTT, and the Australian took comfort from the team's progress in the discipline. "We wanted to challenge our pacing. We had lost 20 seconds to Sunweb at the first time check, but from there to the finish, we only lost another 17 seconds. That gives us some good points to work on," Spratt said.
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Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) will return to racing at next week's Deutschland Tour (August 23-26), lining up alongside Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) as the German national tour returns after a 10-year hiatus sparked by doping scandals in the sport. Thomas rode a series of post-Tour de France criteriums after riding into Paris in yellow on July 29. He was given a public reception in Cardiff last week but recently began training, with Team Sky confirming that he will ride the Tour of Britain, which starts in Pembrey Country Park, Wales, on September 2. On Friday local officials announced that the Newport velodrome would be renamed the Geraint Thomas National Velodrome of Wales in recognition of Thomas becoming the first Welshman to win the Tour de France. Thomas is expected to sign a lucrative new contract with Team Sky despite receiving several offers from rival WorldTour teams keen to sign the Tour de France winner. ADVERTISEMENT Last year Thomas won the opening time trial at the Tour de France in Dusseldorf. The Deutschland Tour starts in Koblenz, with subsequent stages to Trier, Merzig and Stuttgart that are suited to sprint finishes and rouleurs. He is expected to be backed by German domestique Christian Knees, Wout Poels, Philipe Deignan, Kenny Elissonde, David Lopez and Pavel Sivakov. "I’ve won Bayern-Rundfahrt twice and I really enjoy racing in Germany. It’s a lovely country and I really enjoy going there. It will be great to race the Deutschland Tour. I went to see my coach Tim Kerrison after the Tour and we outlined the Deutschland Tour as a great race to make my comeback. I’m looking forward to it,"Thomas said when race organisers ASO confirmed Thomas’ presence. 11 WorldTour teams will ride the Deutschland Tour, including Team Sunweb, Bora-Hansgrohe, BMC Racing, Lotto Soudal, Katusha-Alpecin, Bahrain-Merida and Dimension Data.
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American time trial champion Joey Rosskopf has extended his contract with the BMC Racing team, which is being revamped for 2019 under new title sponsorship from CCC. The 28-year-old joined the team in 2015 after riding for the Hincapie Development squad. He won the Tour du Limousin in 2016 and has won the last two American time trial titles, as well as riding the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España during his time with the team. "In my four years with BMC Racing Team, the team management has shown an incredible amount of patience and dedication in helping me find my most productive role within the team. Their support has enabled me to constantly continue improving as a bike racer, and I have faith that I can continue on this steady trajectory with their guidance. With that in mind, it was an easy decision to renew," Rosskopf said.ADVERTISEMENT "Obviously in 2019 there will be some big changes in appearance, riders, and staff with CCC coming on board. To me, it seems like it will be a really exciting mix between our established, proven management structure and a lot of new faces. I am really looking forward to participating in the creation and successful execution of this 'new look' team in 2019 and beyond." Despite a raft of big-name departures after a summer of uncertainty, during which team manager Jim Ochowicz scrambled for a sponsor to replace BMC, Rosskopf is the fifth rider to sign a new deal since CCC announced they were coming on board in July, along with Greg Van Avermaet, Michael Schar, Nathan Van Hooydonck, Alessandro De Marchi. "Joey Rosskopf is an incredibly talented rider who often flies under the radar because of his selflessness and professionalism when it comes to supporting his teammates," said Ochowicz. "He has played a key domestique role at stage races and Grand Tours over the years and can also make the most of his own opportunities. Joey's time trialling has come a long way in the last four years and as we have seen, he is now one of the team's best time trialists with two national titles to his name and most recently, second in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah prologue. Joey has also played an important role in many of our team time trial victories over the years." CCC adds Omnium world champion Szymon Sajnok Roelandts leaves BMC Racing for Movistar Jesper Hansen to Cofidis Callum Scotson steps up to Mitchelton-Scott from development team
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The Bora-Hansgrohe team have confirmed that Peter Sagan will ride the Vuelta a España as part of a strong team that also includes Rafal Majka, Davide Formolo, Emanuel Buchmann, and Jay McCarthy. Sagan had been dropping hints that he would ride the final Grand Tour of the season but pulled out of the European Championships road race in Glasgow on Sunday, explaining he was still suffering with pain in his hip and back after his crash on a descent of stage 17 at the Tour de France. He is expected to ride Sunday’s EuroEyes Cyclassics Hamburg and then head to Málaga, where the Vuelta starts on Saturday August 25. Sagan has confirmed he will ride the World Championships road race in Innsbruck, Austria at the end of September despite having little chance of taking a fourth consecutive victory on the hilly circuit. "I will try to fight for my best at the end of the season," Sagan said in Glasgow.ADVERTISEMENT Sagan has not ridden the Vuelta a España since 2015. He made his Grand Tour debut - and his name as a sprinter - at the 2011 edition, where he won three stages and the points classification while riding in support of then Liquigas team leader Vincenzo Nibali. He returned in 2014 and 2015 but his race ended abruptly when he was clipped by a race motorbike during stage 8 and crashed at speed. Sagan will have support for the sprint finishes at the Vuelta from German veteran Markus Burghardt, Jay McCarthy, Michael Schwarzmann and Austria’s Lukas Pöstlberger. Bora-Hansgrohe will target the overall classification and the many mountain finishes with Majka, Formolo and talented young German rider Emanuel Buchmann. He finished 15th in last year’s Tour de France, was seventh at the recent Tour de Pologne and sixth at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June. Formolo, also 25, was 10th overall at the Giro d’Italia and ninth at the 2016 Vuelta a España. Majka was 19th at the Tour de France and third in the mountains classification after riding strongly in the Pyrenees in the final week. While Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome have opted to ride the Tour of Britain, the likes of Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Thibaut Pinot, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, Richie Porte, Tejay van Garderen and Rohan Dennis, Adam and Simon Yates, Ilnur Zakarin and Rigoberto Uran will all be in action in Spain.
You can read more at Cyclingnews.com