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Vantornout misses Belgian selection for Cyclo-cross Worlds

For the first time in a decade, Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) will not be racing at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Luxembourg at the end of this month, having failed to make the Belgian selection for the event.

The national coach Rudy De Bie chose Team Steylaerts' Gianni Vermeersch to fill the final slot over Vantornout and ride alongside defending World Champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles). Jens Adams (Pauwels-Vastgoedservice) and Telenet-Fidea's Jim Aernouts and Daan Soete were others who missed out on selection.

Van Aert will be joined by Kevin Pauwels and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Napoleon Games), Laurens Sweeck (Era-Circus), Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), and Tim Merlier (Crelan-Charles).

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As European Champion, Toon Aerts would have created an additional position for Belgium in the men's elite race, but he suffered a broken collarbone in the Fiuggi World Cup, and can not be replaced for Worlds.

Vantornout has twice been on the podium at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, coming second to Zdenek Stybar in Tabor in 2010 and to Sven Nys in Louisville in 2013.

A distant 36th in the UCI rankings from a country that has six riders in the top 10, Vantornout had already given up on being selected before the Fiuggi World Cup.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 3:49 pm

Van der Breggen to start season with mountain bike race

Olympic Champion road race Anna van der Breggen will begin her 2017 season with a spot of mountain biking. At the end of this month, Van der Breggen will compete in Spain at the Costa Blanca Bike Race.

The four-day event, which begins on January 26, is done in pairs and Van der Breggen will ride with the 22-year-old French rider, Margot Moschetti. The stages range between 65 and 11 kilometres with as much as 2,700 metres of climbing on the final, and longest, stage. Teams must complete each of the stages together with no more than two minutes between them at any given time or risk a time penalty.

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The decision to compete in the mountain bike race received the seal of approval from Van der Breggen’s new team manager at Boels Dolmans, Danny Stam. “The Costa Blanca Bike Race is a good way to gain experience. Anna can, with Margot, learn a lot about mountain biking,” he said.

Van der Breggen ended last season at the World Championships in Qatar after a bumper year that culminated in victory at the Olympic road race and the road race at the European Championships. She will ride with Dutch team Boels Dolmans this season after joining them over the winter.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Putte-Kapellen race set to disappear due to aging organising committee

The end of season Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen race looks set to disappear after the organisers admitted they are too old to continue to put on the one-day race. The organising committee secretary Eddy Carpentier has called for anyone interested in saving the race to step forward but warned that they will have raise of 150,000 Euro to cover the costs.

"If there are people who want to take it over from us, they are welcome," Sporza reported Carpentier as saying. "The organising committee will be disbanded. The seven members of our association are all getting older and some begin to suffer with their health. There are still people who want to continue but they want to do it alone and that’s is why we have decided it to put things on hold.”

News of the demise of the Belgian race comes less than 24 hours after the cancellation of this year’s La Méditerranéenne due to funding and organisational problems. The loss of La Méditerranéenne further widens the hole in the racing schedule in February that opened up after the Tour of Qatar was cancelled. Other races in Europe are also struggling to survive due to higher police costs and a lack of funding from local authorities, who have lost funding from central government.

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The Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen is traditionally held north of Antwerp, on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands and brings down the curtain on the Belgian racing season. The race was first held in 1929 and winners include Eddy Merckx, Herman Van Springel and Adri van der Poel. Britain’s Adam Blythe won in 2010 and Nacer Bouhanni won in 2015.

Roy Jans was the final winner in 2016 with the event attracting a crowd of thousands who, like at most Belgian races, watched from the roadside while enjoying drinks and frites. The race was scheduled for October 17 this year, two days before he start of the new Tour of Guangxi WorldTour race in China.

"I have given 35 years of service. From a simple kermesse Putte-Kapellen it became a 1.1 category race, with a lot of big names at the start and on the roll of honour. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of not standing still. We’re a small town, so we had to work hard without much help to cover our budget. Because we didn’t charge (to see the race), we did it with sponsorship. But if you want to organize the race you need around 150,000 Euro, that's a lot of money.”

Carpentier seems determined to step down but is hoping someone will step up to take over his role and some how save the race.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 2:40 pm

Owain Doull in hospital having had appendix removed

 

Owain Doull touched down in Australia last week with high hopes of making his debut at WorldTour level, but the Welshman now finds himself in hospital recovering from what can be a very serious condition. 

The 23-year-old, who has turned pro with Team Sky this season, did not start the People's Choice Classic criterium event on Sunday and was swiftly pulled from the Tour Down Under, with little detail of his ailment other than 'illness'. 

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On Tuesday, after the opening stage of the first WorldTour race of the 2017 season, Doull revealed on social media that his appendix had ruptured and he'd had it removed. 

"Not exactly how I pictured making my world tour debut but when your appendix ruptures there isn't much you can do. Ta for all the messages," he wrote on Twitter.

Appendicitis is a common but serious condition that leads to the removal of the appendix, and there can be life-threatening complications if the appendix bursts as it leaves the abdomen open to infection, which can spread through the body. 

— Owain Doull (@owaindoull) January 17, 2017

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 12:27 pm

Tour Down Under stage 1 highlights - Video

Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) handled the heat, the pressure and the expectation to win the opening stage of the Tour Down Under with another high-speed, aero-tucked sprint in Lyndoch.

The Australian out-sprinted Team Sky's Danny Van Poppel and Bora-hansgrohe's Sam Bennett at the end of stage 1 of the Tour Down Under after riders suffered in the heat. The stage was reduced to 118km after talks between riders and organisers, with one of the final loops lopped off, riders faced two finishing circuits around Lyndoch rather than three.

After Peter Sagan lead-out Bennett down the middle of the road, Ewan came off the wheels and blasted up the left side of the finishing straight, while Van Poppel staked out his ground down the middle of the road. Sagan had taken an early advantage but then Bennett hesitated for a fatal split second and his chance was gone.

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Ewan also took the lead in the overall classification, points, and young rider classifications after a successful day for Orica-Scott that saw Simon Gerrans pick up two precious seconds in the time bonus sprints.

The stage was animated early on by Astana’s Laurens De Vreese, who escaped alone after just three kilometres and held off the bunch until less than 20km to go. The 29-year-old visibly struggled in the heat, his tires sticking to the tarmac as the sun baked down upon him and he constantly checked back in the hope that the peloton would catch him.

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You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 11:45 am

Riders praise decision to shorten Tour Down Under opener

History was made Tuesday in Lyndoch at the Tour Down Under with the cool heads of race director Mike Turtur, UCI commissaries and CPA delegate Adam Hansen prevailing in the heat, deciding for the first time in the races history to shorten a stage of the Australian WorldTour event.

A sweltering day in the Barossa saw riders confronted with temperatures in the mid-40s and unsurprisingly, the conditions were clearly taking their toll before the official announcement of a 26.5km cut to the stage length, reducing the finishing circuits in Lyndoch from three to two.

The decision also sets a precedent for race organisers to enact the UCI Extreme Weather protocol in 2017, which is certain to feature conditions detrimental to rider's health and safety at some point.

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"I like the heat, I don't mind it so much but I had to speak for the riders and a lot of riders were complaining it was a bit too hot," Hansen said of the hottest Tour Down Under stage he's ever ridden, which didn't stop him from launching a late attack in the stage.

"Because the circuit had three laps in the final we could make it one shorter. From the rider's side, we all wanted it. It wasn't me going around; it was more the riders coming up to me."

Hansen explained the riders expressing their concerns over the temperatures weren't just European with several Australians joining in the chorus. While Hansen was not naming names of riders he spoke with, BMC's Richie Porte was one Australian who made comment on the hot weather, adding he wasn't engaged in the decision-making process at any level but grateful for the outcome.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 10:35 am

Elissonde: Training with Froome is harder than the Tour Down Under

When Owain Doull fell ill on the eve of the Tour Down Under and was pulled from the race, the call went out for Kenny Elissonde to head to Adelaide in order complete Team Sky’s race roster.

The Frenchman, signed from FDJ in the off-season, was on a training ride in Brisbane with team leader Chris Froome when he was told to literally stop pedalling and head to the airport. He flew to Adelaide, linked up with his teammates and survived the heat of stage one.

“It’s been a bit of a surprise. I was already in Australia for a training camp because I was already down to do the Herald Sun Tour,” he told Cyclingnews after the stage.

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“I was on a ride with Chris Froome and the trainer was following us in the car behind and then after two hours he pulled alongside me and said ‘Kenny we’ve got to stop training because we need you to take a plane to Adelaide’.”

Stage one of the Tour Down Under was marked by high temperatures, an early one-man break and a hectic sprint won by Caleb Ewan. While the heat caused a reduction in race distance, Elissonde made it through without a hitch.

“Today was okay. I was a bit lucky because there was just one guy in the breakaway. It was maybe easier today than if it had been out for five hours riding with Froome. For sure today was easier than if I’d stayed training with him.”

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 10:23 am

Ewan doubles up in the great Australian bake off

Whether he was getting low to get aero or to avoid the heat that sparked the activation of the UCI Extreme Weather Protocol, Caleb Ewan's sprinting prowess in 2017 continued as he claimed victory number four for the season on the opening stage of the Tour Down Under.

Ewan has now matched his 2016 feats by winning the People's Choice Classic and stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. He also took the lead in the overall classification, points, and young rider classifications.

"It was a lot of pressure coming back here, same finish as last year, to do the same thing and win. It is such a relief and will put the whole team on a high and hopefully we can do something like last year," a relaxed Ewan said after collecting his new wardrobe of jerseys on the podium.

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With high temperatures, conditions were far from ideal for racing but with just a one-man breakaway, Astana's Laurens De Vresse, Ewan suggested, “it is not as bad as it could have been."

Ready for domestique on day two to Paracombe

Orica-Scott will lap up Ewan's third career Tour Down Under win tonight but it is the general classification the Australian team is really chasing. In Esteban Chaves and four-time winner Simon Gerrans, the squad has two bona fide contenders and will back both to the hilt.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 9:40 am

Tour Down Under: Bennett and Sagan switch roles mid-race but miss out

At the start of stage 1 of the Tour Down Under the Bora plan was clear with Sam Bennett designated to lead out Peter Sagan in the sprint. The reversal of roles from the People's Choice Classic was an understandable one but few plans in cycling are set in stone and when the world champion decides to flip the playbook you roll with it.

In the end Bennett came undone - as he did in Sunday's Criterium – with Caleb Ewan and Danny van Poppel showing him a clean pair of heels.

"We hit the front at the right time but I think I made a mistake by waiting a bit too long and then guys came over the top with a bit more speed. I found it hard to reaccelerate and match them," Bennett said at the finish.

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"It was a really messy sprint because everyone was so fresh but we timed it well. We came into the last corner in the lead. I wanted to wait until the final 150 meters to go because of the headwind but I should have gone with 200. You live and learn."

Earlier in the morning a nervous Bennett had explained to Cyclingnews that he had never led out a rider since turning professional and that his task was to shepherd his teammate, and the World Champion, to the line.

"Today we were meant to go for Peter," he told Cyclingnews as he sheltered from the blistering heat at the finish.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 8:40 am

Hot weather sees Tour Down Under stage 1 shortened

Temperatures that soared into the low 40s on Tuesday caused organisers to shorten stage 1 of the 2017 Tour Down Under from 145km to 118km. Race director Mike Turtur and CPA representative Adam Hansen, along with the UCI commissaries, decided to trim the third and final lap of the finishing circuit in Lyndoch.

The Barossa suburb of Lyndoch was the host last year’s stage 1 and was likewise raced in repressive heat, but there was no change to the parcours.

"The safety and welfare of the riders, spectators and everyone involved with the race is always our primary concern," said Mike Turtur in a statement from the race. "We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) and with our Chief Commissaire Alexander Donike, and both agreed it would be sensible to shorten the stage distance."

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Speaking to Cyclingnews ahead of the race, Hansen explained that he was confident Turtur and the commissaries would make the right decision and enact the UCI Extreme Weather protocol.

"With the weather at this race, Mike Turtur is very good. If you speak with him, he already has alternative courses planned and everything if it gets too hot to make it shorter and also stay away from the fire hazard areas, because there are quite a lot of those areas around here. We are in good hands with race organisers who are very willing to make changes," Hansen said.

With temperature expected to remain in the high-30s this week, there could be further shortening of stages to ensure the health and safety of the riders.

You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

Posted on January 17th, 2017, 3:59 am

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