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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Peter Sagan is cycling’s ultimate zen master.
The preternatural two-wheeled virtuoso lives in the here and now. Blessed by the cycling gods, Sagan doesn’t worry about the weight of history, even when he’s making it. Those concerns are for mere mortals. More Peter Sagan newsTour Down Under: Sagan takes stage 4 and overall lead
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Kings of the classics prepare for 2018 battles
More Peter Sagan news
Tour Down Under: Sagan takes stage 4 and overall leadThree-time World Champion Peter Sagan powered to victory on the fourth stage of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under in Uraidla on Friday.
“I do not know what is going to happen in life,” Sagan said. “Why do I have to think about that? I am here now.”
After a winter of hibernation, the Sagan Show was back under the spotlight at the WorldTour season opener in Australia. A stage win and the points jersey at the Santos Tour Down Under to open the 2018 calendar suggests he’s poised for a big season.
While journalists grit their teeth trying to paint him into a box, Sagan is simply enjoying the ride. (And helping out when he can).
After today's stage, I finally had a real job to do... I'd like to thank every single person at the @tourdownunder organization. Their hard work makes it one of the best races in the world. Thanks also to the fans and spectators in @southaustralia! This victory goes to you! pic.twitter.com/j7XWDMDl96— Peter Sagan (@petosagan) January 19, 2018
Saganism comes to us in snippets. He’s the ideal star for the Twitter age. A gesture, a turn of phrase, or a video clip can instantly go viral. He has the uncanny ability to turn the banal into something entertaining (remember his chair slide during last year’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad?). Fans love him and so do most of his colleagues in the peloton.
If anything sums up Sagan’s bon vivant character and live-and-let-live attitude, it’s a new tattoo emblazoned across his right hip. The dark ink features a Sagan-like Joker character from “Batman,” with the slogan, “Not so serious.”
“Why so serious?” when asked about the fresh ink. “Everyone is always so serious, especially the journalists. You can also take life not so serious. You can have fun. When you lose the fun, then everything goes down.”
Sagan clearly enjoys life as three-time world champion, and he is poised to have a lot more fun in 2019.
Turning 28 this week, he comes into the 2018 racing season fitter and more at ease with his rising profile. Becoming a new father adds another layer to Sagan’s world, and he rolled out of the Santos Tour Down Under with expectations flying high.
After a short break at home, he’ll ramp up his European calendar with Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milano-Sanremo. He doesn’t like to look much further down the road. When asked if he’s coming back to the Tour Down Under next year, he replied, “I do not know what I am doing tomorrow. So how can I know about something from a year from now?”
Those close to him are working hard to let Peter be Peter, but at the same time, they’re trying to elevate his game just that much more.
“He is an artist. He is a special rider who can do things no one else can,” said Bora-Hansgrohe sport director Patxi Vila. “We have to take care of him, because it would be impossible to replace him. Sometimes cycling is becoming too serious. There are too many numbers. Sometimes I think we are losing the real DNA of the sport. Cycling is fun, and it has to be fun. That’s what Peter brings to cycling right now.”
Maintaining that balance between fun and amusement, and the hard work and preparation that professional cycling requires is a balancing act for the Bora-Hansgrohe staff. Sagan has quietly built a strong support system for himself both on and off the bike, with such key riders as new arrival Daniel Oss, his brother Juraj, and Maciej Bodnar, as well as Vila, agent Giovanni Lombardi, and press officer Gabriele Uboldi behind the scenes.
Everyone is working to help Sagan win a lot of races without losing the inimitable spirit and energy that he brings to cycling.
“Peter is unique in today’s cycling. He races on instinct and passion,” Oss said. “Of course, he is professional and he does the work. But he is a rider who can improvise and create magic in any race he starts. No one can do that today in the peloton like he does.”
All the pieces are stacking up for what could be another exceptional season. After reeling off green jerseys and hogging the rainbow jersey, the team’s first major focus are the spring classics — not the yellow jersey in Paris. Everyone within the organization senses that Sagan could emerge this season as the dominant force in the monuments. With one victory at the Tour of Flanders and a lot more close calls, more big wins seem all but inevitable.
Sagan is the superstar that cycling so desperately needs. He rides his bike because he enjoys it. He races because he’s naturally good at it. And he wins because something clicks deep inside him when he sees the finish line.
“Everything changes in the race,” Sagan said. “You can be normal in everyday life. When you are 5km from the finish, when you are there, you have to try. It is also some kind of job. After all of the energy, all of the work, the finish line is there. You come so close. You want to be the best.”
How does he do it? Sagan doesn’t get bogged down in the details (“That’s why Patxi is here,” when asked about his power numbers) and he doesn’t dwell on the pressure to win more monuments.
“I don’t think about that,” he countered. “If you think about what you want to expect, you can also have some disappointment.”
Sagan simply wants to enjoy the moment. That is an elusive freedom that comes with the unfettered mind.
For Sagan, it’s simply destiny.
“When I was nine years old, I started to ride bikes, and I figured out I have some talent for it,” he said. “Now I just continue.”
That’s pure Sagan. Zen master of the peloton.
The post Zen master Sagan poised for big 2018 appeared first on VeloNews.com.

SAN JUAN, Argentina (VN) — The 2018 Giro d’Italia wildcard invitation Israel Cycling Academy received on Saturday is “big news” for the team and those riders gunning for a spot when the race starts in Jerusalem May 4.
The team received one of only four wildcard invitations offered by Giro organizer RCS Sport, with the other three going to Italian teams. With the race starting in Jerusalem, the first grand tour to go outside of Europe, the team put much weight into the 2018 season and the Giro.
The team began its season Sunday at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina.
“I’m happy, it’s big news for us and for cycling in general,” Italian sprinter Kristian Sbaragli told VeloNews.
“It’s historic for the Giro to start in Jerusalem and finish in Rome, iconic places, we are happy to be there and we are going to be there with a strong team. Our goal is to win a stage.”
The Israeli team will join Pro Continental teams Bardiani-CSF, Wilier Triestina, and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, along with the 18 WorldTour teams with guaranteed starts in the grand tours.
“It’s a big deal for me, the Giro’s going to be my biggest goal of 2018,” continued Sbaragli. “I want to be there at 100 percent. I’m Italian, it’s big for me and then to be in the Israel Cycling Academy, so I have to show their colors both in the starting stages and when we get back to Italy.”
The team owned by Ron Baron and Sylvan Adams added depth to its roster over the winter, bringing on Sbaragli from Dimension Data, already a stage winner in the Vuelta a España, and Rubén Plaza and Ben Hermans. American Tyler Williams is also part of the 24-man roster. In addition, the team added support staff and structure with 2018 in mind.
“We have a good program this year with Milano-Sanremo, the Tour of the Alps, Tirreno-Adriatico, also Catalunya,” sport director René Andrle said.
“Another level in 2018? Yes, I think that this was the goal of the team when we started, to be among the best teams. Now we need to show that we can compete with the best teams.”
Israel Cycling Academy will be thrown into the deep-end in the Giro with Sky and Chris Froome, assuming he competes. Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) will also be back to defend his 2017 title.
“We hope that we will represent the team well,” added Andrle.
“It’s bigger than last year for us, we have many more strong riders, we have a big structure, like a WorldTour team. I hope that we will be one of the big surprises of 2018. And I hope that we can win one stage in the Giro, that’s our goal for the race.”
RCS Sport, according to VeloNews sources, should receive around 10 million euros from the local Israeli organizer. That money is partly profit but also covers the costs of flights, transportation of materials, and management of the complex foreign start.
Since Israel is giving such funds, many followers assumed that the home team would easily receive one of the four wildcard invitations without question.
“You never know if the invite would come or not,” said Andrle.
“Now, we have to prove to everyone that we deserve it.”
The post Israel Cycling Academy celebrates Giro invite appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Colombian Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step Floors) repeated his performance of a year ago, by winning the opening stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in Pocito, Argentina on Sunday. After his team did most of the chasing throughout the stage to bring back the breakaway, Gaviria made sure their efforts weren’t for naught and handily took the sprint victory over Niccolo Bonifazio (Bahrain-Merida) and Matteo Pelucchi (Bora-Hansgrohe).
Top 10, stage 1
1. Fernando Gaviria, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 03:15:23
2. Niccolo Bonifazio, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 0:00
3. Matteo Pelucchi, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:00
4. Giacomo Nizzolo, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:00
5. Manuel Belletti, ANDRONI – SIDERMEC – BOTTECCHIA, at 0:00
6. Mauro Abel Richeze, AGRUPACION VIRGEN DE FATIMA, at 0:00
7. Héctor Lucero, EQUIPO CONTINENTAL MUNICIPALIDAD DE POCITO, at 0:00
8. Alexandr Riabushenko, UAE-TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:00
9. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:00
10. Manuel Penalver, UNIEURO TREVIGIANI – HEMUS 1896, at 0:00
Top-10 overall
1. Fernando Gaviria, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 00:00
2. Niccolo Bonifazio, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, at 0:04
3. Matteo Pelucchi, BORA – HANSGROHE, at 0:06
4. Daniel Juarez, ASOCIACION CIVIL MARDAN, at 0:07
5. Giacomo Nizzolo, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at 0:10
6. Manuel Belletti, ANDRONI – SIDERMEC – BOTTECCHIA, at 0:10
7. Mauro Abel Richeze, AGRUPACION VIRGEN DE FATIMA, at 0:10
8. Héctor Lucero, EQUIPO CONTINENTAL MUNICIPALIDAD DE POCITO, at 0:10
9. Alexandr Riabushenko, UAE-TEAM EMIRATES, at 0:10
10. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 0:10
The opening stage was overshadowed by the sudden withdrawal of the race’s headliner, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), mere hours before the start. The Italian came down with a fever overnight and was unable to start the race. This left his team with only five riders to begin the race.
A seven-rider breakaway dominated the stage, which started in the city center of San Juan and finished in the nearby suburb of Pocito. The 149.6-kilometer stage included three laps of a 17.4-kilometer circuit in Pocito. The riders in the breakaway were Adrian Richeze (QAgrupacion Virgen De Fatima), Duilio Ramos (Argentina National Team), Daniel Juárez (Asociacion Civil Mardan), Juan Melivillo (Equipo Continental Municipalidad de Pocito), Facundo Cattapan (Municipalidad de Rawson Somos Todos), Victor Olivarez (Chile National Team), and Pablo Anchieri (Uruguay National Team).
Quick-Step Floors was tasked with doing the bulk of the work in the peloton to bring back the escapes due to the speed of Gaviria. He was clearly the fastest sprinter on the start list.
Entering the final circuit around Pocito, the final survivors of the breakaway were caught, setting the stage for a bunch finish. With seven WorldTour teams in the race, there was no shortage of power in the peloton and many teams fought for control at the front heading into the final kilometers.
Bora-Hansgrohe led the bunch into the final two kilometers with Pelucchi tacked onto the end of the train. However, the German-based team would not be able to hold-off Quick-Step Floors and the boys in blue entered the final kilometer with three riders on the front of the peloton. Gaviria was in perfect position behind his final lead-out man, Ariel Maximiliano Richeze.
The Colombian opened the sprint himself and no one could match his speed down the wide-open finishing straight. Bonifazio and Pelucchi rounded out the podium with Trek-Segafredo’s Giacomo Nizzolo in fourth.
Gaviria leads Bonifazio by four seconds in the general classification with Pelucchi a further 2 seconds behind.Full results to come.
The post San Juan: Gaviria wins stage 1 appeared first on VeloNews.com.

SAN JUAN, Argentina (VN) — Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) arrived five days early, trained on the Argentine roads, and attended the team presentation all for nothing. This morning, ahead of the Vuelta a San Juan, fever forced the Italian grand tour star to sit out and delay the start of his 2018 season.
Nibali, a winner of all three grand tours, arrived in Argentina as one of the pre-race favorites along with Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe). The seven-stage race should have kicked off his year, one with the Tour de France as the main goal.
“Only two hours ago, Vincenzo had gastroenteritis with nausea, vomiting, and fever,” Emilio Magni, Bahrain-Merida’s team doctor, said ahead of stage one.
“There’s no way he can start like that. His fever was rising at 38.5C [101.3F] – he was bad off. Maybe in a few hours he’s already better, but in this moment, it is impossible. He couldn’t stand up.”
The team’s other five cyclists put on their red and blue kits, left the hotel, and rode to the start in San Juan’s center without Nibali.
“We had a couple of other riders affected by it too in the last days, Antonio Nibali and Ivan Garcia Cortina,” trainer Paolo Slongo added. “Maybe they passed it beforehand and had time to be ready for the race. There are many teams who’ve had similar problems, Quick-Step, and others, but it’s too bad for Vincenzo that it came this morning when the race was starting.”
Magni added, “It’s hard to say how he got it.”
Nibali will remain in western Argentina near the Andes Mountains for a couple of days before flying home. His next race will be the Tour of Oman in mid-February.
After aiming for the Giro d’Italia and placing third in 2017, the team has him slated to race the Tour de France for a second title after the 2014 win.
“Season compromised? No, it doesn’t change everything, but clearly we invested in this race by being here five days in advance to adapt,” said Slongo.
“We took out two days to travel here too. It was important for us to race the Vuelta a San Juan. Our big goals don’t change, but I’m sorry about this situation. We can’t do anything about it. It’s out of our hands.”
Nibali will be one of the top favorites at the Tour de France this summer along with Chris Froome (Sky), Mikel Landa (Movistar), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale).
“Let’s hope that this doesn’t change that!” Slongo said with a laugh. “The Tour, the way it is designed with pavé, the short stages and team time trial, it’s good for Team Bahrain and Nibali. “It’s a good route for us.
“Nibali’s more relaxed this year, that’s not to say that last year went badly, but it was a new team and many things to check out. We needed time to let it grow, I think that this year it’s settled in. That will be better when it comes to the Tour.”
The post Fever delays Nibali’s 2018 season debut appeared first on VeloNews.com.

Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) won his sixth Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup race of the season on Sunday in Nommay, France. The Dutchman was locked in a battle with Wout van Aert (Crelan-Charles) in the opening laps but capitalized on a mistake by the World Champion to ride away. Van der Poel has finished on the podium at every World Cup this year and will be greatly motivated next week at the final stop in Hoogerheide, as the race is organized and named after his father Adri van der Poel.
As has been the case for much of the season, van Aert finished second way back of Van der Poel. The Belgian has been challenging van der Poel more and more as the weeks have gone on, but with the World Championships only two weeks away, it looks doubtful he will be able to win a third consecutive title.
Toon Aerts (Telenet Fidea) finished third with van Aert’s teammate, Tim Merlier, finishing fourth.
Top 10
1. Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED), CORENDON-CIRCUS, 1:06:56
2. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), CRELAN-CHARLES, 1:07:29
3. Toon Aerts (BEL), TEELNET FIDEA, 1:09:05
4. Tim Merlier (BEL), CRELAN-CHARLES, 1:09:27
5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), MARLUX-BINGOAL, 1:09:43
6. Laurens Sweeck (BEL), ERA-CIRCUS 1:10:02
7. Michael BoroŠ (CZE), PAUWELS SAUZEN VASTGOEDSERVICE, 1:10:07
8. David Van Der Poel (NED), CORENDON-CIRCUS 1:10:44
9. Steve Chainel (FRA), TEAM CHAZAL CANYON, 1:10:46
10. Kevin Pauwels (BEL), MARLUX-BINGOAL, 1:10:50
Course conditions were horendous for the elite men in Nommay, France. While much of the course was rideable due to the mud not being extremely thick, the multiple hills on the course were treacherous and required many to get off and run. Van der Poel and van Aert showed immense strength by riding a few of the hills. The set of barriers in Nommay were even dangerous, as noted by the fact that only van der Poel and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal) were seen bunny hopping them throughout the race.
Van Aert led the large men’s field onto the opening set of stairs with van der Poel tucked onto his wheel. Merlier soon took over leading, as the group powered through the first mud section. But his time at the front would be short. Aerts blitzed by everyone to move into the lead and force the main selection of the race mere minutes since the start.
Merlier, van der Poel, van Aert, and Aerts began to separate themselves from the rest on lap one, while Laurens Sweeck (ERA-Circus) led the chase behind. Sweeck would bridge to the leaders and so would Michael BoroŠ (Pauwels-Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) before the end of the opening lap.
As the lead group passed the pit for the second time, many riders entered to get a clean bike. Van Aert, who was leading the group, did not. Van der Poel made a critical error when he rode by his mechanics. He was a couple meters past when he realized his mistake and was forced to dismount and run back.
Van der Poel’s error in the pit lane caused confusion and van Aert was able to get a gap on everyone, as he did not enter the pit. Van Aert finished the opening lap with a three-second lead over Aerts and Sweeck, BoroŠ, and Merlier just behind chasing. Van der Poel finished the lap 10 seconds down on the World Champion.
Van Aert’s time alone in the lead would be short-lived, as van der Poel bridged to him midway through the lap and brought Aerts with him. The chasing duo made the final junction to van Aert after he slipped while running. Soon though, it would be a duel at the front, as the former European champion Aerts would be unable to hold the pace of van der Poel and van Aert.
A peculiar event happened on the second lap between Lars van der Haar (Telenet Fidea) and Francis Mourey. Mourey got his foot stuck in van der Haar’s bike between one of the seat stays and the wheel. He was laying on the course for some time while multiple people came to the Frenchman’s assistance. Van der Haar would end up being pulled from the race after the fourth lap, having lost too much time due to the incident. Mourey would be disqualified. At the time of publication, it was unknown why Mourey was disqualified.
The leading duo hled a 12-second lead over Aerts and Sweek as they crossed the finish line with seven laps remaining. BoroŠ was 24 seconds down in fifth place.
The third lap is when van der Poel pounced and rode away from van Aert. The two leaders were constantly attempting to power up hills that most of the others in the race ran. Van der Poel cleanly rode a slightly off-camber hill, while van Aert’s rear tire lost traction and forced him to put a foot down. This slight error by the three-time Belgian national champion opened the door for van der Poel to ride away.
Van Aert finished the third lap within touching distance of van der Poel, but he would never be able to claw back the last couple seconds. Sweeck and Aerts cross the line more than 30 seconds down with Merlier and BoroŠ about 10 seconds behind them.
Vanthourenhout would have a good second half of the race and move into contention for a podium place. The Belgian was part of a group of four chasing Aerts, who was in third with three laps remaining. Joining Vanthourenhout were Merlier, Sweeck, and BoroŠ. Aerts had attacked and left Sweeck behind on the fourth lap.
Merlier would be able to get the better of his chase group companions in the final laps to finish the race in fourth behind van der Poel, van Aert, and Aerts. Vanthourenhout finish fifth, a great result considering he was out of the picture for much of the first half of the race. Sweeck was sixth and BoroŠ was seventh.
Newly crowned French national cyclocross champion Steve Chainel (Team Chazal Canyon) managed to come home in ninth. A great result for him on home soil.
The Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup continues on January 28 in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.
Full results
1. Mathieu Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:06:56
2. Wout Van Aert, (BEL), 1:07:29
3. Toon Aerts, (BEL), 1:09:05
4. Tim Merlier, (BEL), 1:09:27
5. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL), 1:09:43
6. Laurens Sweeck, (BEL), 1:10:02
7. Michael BoroŠ, (CZE), 1:10:07
8. David Van Der Poel, (NED), 1:10:44
9. Steve Chainel, (FRA), 1:10:46
10. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL), 1:10:50
11. Tom Meeusen, (BEL), 1:10:55
12. Fabien Canal, (FRA), 1:10:58
13. Daan Soete, (BEL), 1:11:10
14. Quinten Hermans, (BEL), 1:11:22
15. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL), 1:11:42
16. Nicolas Cleppe, (BEL), 1:11:48
17. Felipe Orts Lloret, (ESP), 1:12:03
18. Corne Van Kessel, (NED), 1:12:14
19. Wietse Bosmans, (BEL), 1:12:15
20. Marcel Meisen, (GER), 1:12:35
21. Jim Aernouts, (BEL), 1:13:00
22. Vincent Baestaens, (BEL), 1:13:23
23. Lars Forster, (SUI), 1:13:32
24. Gioele Bertolini, (ITA), 1:13:40
25. Stan Godrie, (NED), 1:13:41
26. Severin SÄgesser, (SUI), 1:13:56
27. Alois Falenta, (FRA), 1:14:08
28. Matthieu Boulo, (FRA)
29. Ismael Esteban Aguero, (ESP)
30. Diether Sweeck, (BEL)
31. David Menut, (FRA)
32. Kevin Suarez Fernandez, (ESP)
33. Tomáš Paprstka, (CZE)
34. Jan Nesvadba, (CZE)
35. Eric Thompson, (USA)
36. Kerry Werner, (USA)
37. Javier Ruiz De Larrinaga IbaÑez, (ESP)
38. Emil Hekele, (CZE)
39. Luca Braidot, (ITA)
40. Arthur Tropardy, (FRA)
41. Marcel Wildhaber, (SUI)
42. Michael Van Den Ham, (CAN)
43. Florian Trigo, (FRA)
44. Daniele Braidot, (ITA)
45. Garry Millburn, (AUS)
46. Yannick Mayer, (GER)
47. Philipp Heigl, (AUT)
48. Tyler Cloutier, (USA)
The post Nommay: Van der Poel still unbeatable appeared first on VeloNews.com.

With the World Championships a mere two weeks away, 14-time U.S. national cyclocross champion Katie Compton (KFC Racing-Trek-Panache) sent a shot across the bow with a blistering performance in Nommay, France on Sunday at the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup. She powered away from the others on the opening lap and stayed nearly flawless the rest of the race to win by nearly a minute on a chilly day in France.
It would be a great day for the American contingent as Kaitie Keough (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) came home in second. It was her fourth podium finish in a World Cup race this season. Keough is currently ranked second in the UCI rankings and second in the World Cup standings.
The fans let out a roar, as newly crowned French national cyclocross champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (WM3) finished third. Ferrand-Prevot is a threat for the world title, having been World Champion in 2015.
Current World Champion Sanne Cant (Corendon-Circus) had an off day and finished 12th. She retained her lead in the World Cup standings and barring a major disaster at the final round in Hoogerheide next week, she will win the series.
Top 10
1. Katherine Compton, ((USA)) KFC RACING-TREK-PANACHE, in 45:03
2. Kaitlin Keough, ((USA)) CANNONDALE-CYCLOCROSSWORLD, at 00:55
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Fra), ((FRA)) CANYON-SRAM, at 01:20
4. Helen Wyman (GBr), ((GBR)) XYPEX – VERGE SPORT, at 01:30
5. Christine Majerus, ((LUX)) BOELS-DOLMANS, at 01:30
6. Alice Maria Arzuffi, ((ITA)) STEYLAERTS – BETFIRST, at 01:42
7. Eva Lechner, ((ITA)) CLIF PRO TEAM, at 02:04
8. Jolanda Neff, ((SWI)) , at 02:21
9. Ellen Van Loy (Bel), ((BEL)) TELENET FIDEA, at 02:38
10. Caroline Mani (Fra), ((FRA)) VAN DESSEL-ATOM COMPOSITES, at 02:42
It was a cold and chilly day in Nommay, France on Sunday for the eighth round of the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup. The course is Nommay was rolling and heavy rains caused it to be a muddy affair. The cold temperatures had threatened overnight snow, but instead the region recieved rain. The mud in Nommay wasn’t terribly thick, so the riders didn’t have to dismount on long straight sections. The multiple rolling hills, however, were not rideable, forcing the riders to run.
Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea) sprinted down the paved start/finishing straight and led the group onto the stairs. In Nommay, instead of turning onto the grass to begin the course, the riders tackle a flight of stairs. This makes having a great start that much more important.
Cant looked good early in the race, slotting in behind van Loy. American Elle Anderson (Cycling.be-Alpha Motorhomes) also had a good start and sat in third wheel in the early going. But soon Compton came to the front and laid down the power.
Compton simply rode away from everyone on the opening lap. Alice Arzuffi (Steylaerts-BetFirst) took up the second position chasing Compton, while two chase groups formed behind. Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) took out many riders in the second chase group, as she slid out on a corner. Keough was in this group at the time and quickly had to dismount to get around the carnage. Van Loy, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team), Helen Wyman (Xypex-Verge Sport), Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) and Cant were all ahead of the crash.
Cant would lose many places at the end of the lap, as she dropped her chain. She was forced to stop and put it back on manually.
At the end of the opening lap, Compton had opened an enormous gap of 18 seconds over Arzuffi, who was still alone in second. Wyman and Majerus came across the line in the third and fourth spot nearly half a minute behind the American champion. They were followed quickly by van Loy, Keough and Nash. Cant had begun to slide backward and was outside of the top 10 at the end of the first lap.
Keough came on strong in the second lap, passing Wyman and Majerus to move into a podium position. Another rider on the move was cross-country mountain-bike world champion Jolanda Neff. The Swiss rider was forced to start a couple rows back in the grid due to a lack of UCI points, but on the second lap, she had moved into the top 10. Ferrand-Prevot was seen riding near Cant just outside the top 10.
Compton’s lead was over 30 seconds as she crossed the line with three laps to go. Arzuffi was still fighting alone in second, but Keough was hunting her down. Keough would make the pass on the third lap to take over second place, but by this point in the race that would be as high as she would go. Compton was a tear and demonstrating her expert technical skills on the muddy course.
While Neff began to lose places in the second half of the race, Ferrand-Prevot was passing her competitors. Entering the final lap, the Frenchwoman found herself in a four-rider group fighting for the last spot on the podium. Standing in Ferrand-Prevot’s way of a World Cup podium on home soil was Wyman, Majerus, and Arzuffi.
Compton crossed the finish line in Nommay with a huge smile on her face. The victory was her first in the World Cup series this season and it could not have come at a better time. The World Championships in Valkenburg are a mere two weeks away.
Keough finished second and Ferrand-Prevot was able to ride away from the others in her group on the final lap to claim third. Wyman outsprinted Majerus for the fourth spot.
The Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series continues on January 28 in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.
Full results
1. Katherine Compton, (USA) , in 45:03
2. Kaitlin Keough, (USA), 45:58
3. Pauline Ferrand Prevot, (FRA), 46:23
4. Helen Wyman, (GBR), 46:33
5. Christine Majerus, (LUX), 46:33
6. Alice Maria Arzuffi, (ITA), 46:45
7. Eva Lechner, (ITA), 47:07
8. Jolanda Neff, (SUI), 47:24
9. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 47:41
10. Caroline Mani, (FRA), 47:45
11. Katerina Nash, (CZE). 47:50
12. Sanne Cant, (BEL), 47:53
13. Elisabeth Brandau, (GER), 47:53
14. Nikki Brammeier, (GBR), 48:02
15. Annemarie Worst, (NED), 48:19
16. Fleur Nagengast, (NED). 48:27
17. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 48:34
18. Maghalie Rochette, (CAN), 48:36
19. Maud Kaptheijns, (NED), 48:49
20. Marion Norbert Riberolle, (FRA), 48:50
21. Manon Bakker, (NED), 48:57
22. Elle Anderson, (USA), 49:15
23. Jolien Verschueren, (BEL), 49:20
24. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 49:28
25. Loes Sels, (BEL), 49:36
26. Inge Van Der Heijden, (NED), 49:37
27. Pavla HavlÍkovÁ, (CZE), 49:40
28. Marlène Petit, (FRA), 49:44
29. Francesca Baroni, (ITA), 49:56
30. Lucia Gonzalez Blanco, (ESP), 50:06
31. Nadja Heigl, (AUT), 50:32
32. Christel Ferrier Bruneau, (CAN), :50:40
33. Ruby West, (CAN), 50:53
34. Geerte Hoeke, (NED), 51:01
35. Rebecca Fahringer, (USA), 51:05
36. Marlène Morel Petitgirard, (FRA), 51:05
37. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 51:32
38. Jade Wiel, (FRA), 51:40
39. Irene Trabazo Bragado, (ESP), 52:34
40. Beth Ann Orton, (USA), 52:44
41. Chiara Teocchi, (ITA), 52:51
42. Olatz Odriozola Mugica, (ESP), 52:55
43. Pauline Delhaye, (FRA), 53:06
44. Noemi RÜegg, (SUI), 53:26
45. Magdeleine Vallieres Mill, (CAN), 53:59
46. Zina Barhoumi, (SUI), 54:47
47. Luisa Ibarrola Albizua, (ESP),55:02
48. Corey Coogan Cisek, (USA), 55:42
49. Elizabeth UngermanovÁ, (CZE), 56:01
50. Siobhan Kelly, (CAN)
51. Amaia Lartitegi Ormazabal, (ESP)
52. Christine Vardaros, (USA)
53. Saioa Gil Ranero, (ESP)
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ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — Richie Porte (BMC Racing) leaves the Santos Tour Down Under confident he’s on track for another run at the yellow jersey.
The Tasmanian all-rounder cleared his first hurdle on the road back to the Tour de France with a solid outing in his first stage race since crashing out last July in the Pyrénées.
Porte, who will be 33 next week, finishes the Tour Down Under satisfied with a fifth-straight victory on the Willunga Hill stage. And though he missed out on defending his title on a tiebreaker to Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Porte’s return to racing this month leaves him optimistic about the looming European campaign.
“I am super motivated about this year and getting to Europe,” Porte said. “Everything this year is looking up.”
Last year, Porte used his Tour Down Under victory to barnstorm into the European calendar, including victory at the Tour de Romandie en route to the Tour. The wheels came off when he crashed on stage nine.
Healthy again, Porte hopes to use the momentum from his stage-race season debut to hit the same winning form in 2018. He will race next weekend in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race before returning to Europe. The ultimate goal is to return to the Tour de France in condition to race for the win.
To get there, he’s tweaking his roadmap to Paris. Instead of returning to familiar terrain at Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné, Porte will race at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Suisse. He’s only started Tirreno once, and he’s never raced the Swiss tour.
“It’s a bit of a change to the program, so I am quite of excited about that,” he said. “I love Paris-Nice, and it’s been good to me over the years, but it’s just nice to change things up a little bit.”
BMC Racing is glad to see its Tour leader ride out of Australia with high morale and a solid week of racing. Porte’s horrific exit from last year’s Tour left the team anxious to see their star back on the bike.
“This is a signal that things are on track,” said BMC Racing’s general manager Jim Ochowicz. “His health, power and performance are all where they should be. After a crash like he had in the Tour, you just don’t know until you race again. So after this week, we know he is on track for the Tour.”
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