Ben Swift recovering after suffering spleen rupture in training crash

Swift hopes to be recovered in time to compete at Milan-San Remo in March

Ben Swift is recovering in the hospital in Tenerife, Spain, following a heavy crash on Wednesday and a ruptured spleen.

He was training on the island with Sky team-mate and Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

Swift, who began racing with Team Sky again in 2019, hopes to return in time for Milan-San Remo – only one month away on March 23. Doctors will possibly move him from intensive care on Friday.

>>> UAE Tour start list: Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Dumoulin due to ride

“I’m still in intensive care. Hopefully I’m moving out of here today,” Swift told Cycling Weekly. “My spleen has been stabilised.”

Swift already began his season with Sky with the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, where he spirited to third on stage two, and the Tour de la Provence.

In Spain, he was training ahead of a programme that was due to include the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on March 3. On a training ride with 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas, Swift hit a rock or something in the road.

“It was the same colour of the road on a shaded section,” he continued.

He suffered facial wounds and road rash, but scans revealed fractures. However, he ruptured his spleen. Doctors performed an operation on Wednesday afternoon to reduce the risk of further bleeding, explained Team Sky

“Thankfully though, he didn’t lose consciousness and was aware of the incident afterwards,” Team Sky doctor Inigo Sarriegui explained.

“We will continue to monitor him over the coming days, but 24 hours on from the crash he is already feeling better.”

Swift, who raced the last two years with UAE Team Emirates, remains optimistic.

“Because I didn’t have to have it removed then I guess once I am out of hospital it shouldn’t be to bad,” he said.

“I am guessing Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is off schedule, but I hope to keep my plans for Milan-San Remo.”

Swift placed third in the 2014 Milan-San Remo and second in 2016, his final year before leaving Team Sky for UAE.

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Lutsenko eyes Tirreno-Adriatico, Ardennes Classics, Worlds

Another year, another Tour of Oman title for Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), though this time he was utterly dominant, winning three of the six stages along the way. Lutsenko didn’t win much else in 2018 but there’s a sense that the 26-year-old might be on the verge of building a big palmarès, with stage races and Classics both on his agenda.

Every rider in Oman was happy to admit Lutsenko was head and shoulders above the rest, as he helped himself to victories on the two punchy stages and then on Green Mountain to seal the title. Cofidis directeur sportif Roberto Damiani likened him to 1986 world champion Moreno Argentin.

“I’m not surprised,” Lutsenko told Cyclingnews of his dominance. “I did a lot of work in Tenerife at altitude before this. Now I’m more skinny. I’m two kilograms lighter.

“That gives me more motivation for the important races like the Classics. It’s a good start for my new season, the best I’ve had. Tomorrow I go back home to enjoy a few days with my family before going to Belgium. That’s my plan for this week. After, I go to the Classics with good legs and good motivation.

Lutsenko will line up at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad next Saturday, where the form he has shown automatically makes him one of the favourites, having already shown his potential on the cobbles with a podium at the 2017 Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Yet, despite Astana coaches insisting he could win the bigger cobbled Classics like the Tour of Flanders, Lutsenko is skipping them in order to focus on the hillier Ardennes races this year.

“I really like Amstel Gold Race,” he said, reminding that he won the U23 world title on the Cauberg – Amstel’s iconic climb – in 2012. “I like this last steep climb in the Amstel Gold Race. That’s my strong point. Also, Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a good race for me, I think.”

You can never be too good, but Lutsenko will have to make sure he’s still at the height of his powers in two months’ time, with Amstel Gold Race on April 21 and Liège on April 28.

“I think it won’t be a problem,” he said. “After Tirreno-Adriatico [March 13-19] I’ll rest for three or four days then go again to altitude in Tenerife for more preparation for the Ardennes Classics.”

Lutsenko will also race Strade Bianche on March 8, and there’s another one-day race that stands out in his head, even seventh months away: “The World Championships in Yorkshire.”

As for stage racing, the next big target is Tirreno-Adriatico, one of the most prestigious week-long stage races. Having now won twice in Oman, Lutsenko is expected to take a step forward in those races and to start challenging for the titles at the bigger WorldTour events.

“Tirreno is a good race for me,” he said, having finished 15th last year. “There’s not too much climbing, you have a time trial. For me it’s perfect.

“I think one-week races, like Tirreno-Adriatico, like Paris-Nice, are good for me. Also last year, the Tour of Turkey went well.”

“I’m not thinking about GC in Grand Tours, just maybe maximum one-week races. I prefer those races, you don’t have the long mountains, more short climbs that suit me better.”

Lars Michaelsen insists Lutsenko, at 26, is still developing and has a bright future ahead of him.

“He has proved two years in a row he can win the Tour of Oman, so short stage races, even with a time trial – we didn’t have one here but he’s also good at time trialling. So for sure, the one-week stage races are something he can aim for, also the type like BinckBank Tour,” Michaelsen told Cyclingnews.

“For the one-day racing, it’s still to be proven. The engine is there. You need other skills also, like fighting for position, but the engine is there.”

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Young star Tadej Pogačar bests world class climbers on stage two of Volta ao Algarve 2019

The Tour de l’Avenir winner starts his WorldTour career with a bang

Tadej Pogačar lived up to the hype and bested world class climbers on stage two of the Volta ao Algarve.

The 20-year-old held his own on the testing final climb to Fóia against the likes of Wout Poels (Team Sky) and Enric Mas (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) to take his first win for a WorldTour team.

Pogačar, winner of the 2019 Tour de l’Avenir, takes control of the general classification in Portugal.

How it happened

Stage two of the Volta ao Algarve was one for the climbers, with an undulating parcours leading into to tough final ascent of 7.8km at 6.1 per cent.

>>> Simon Yates ‘not interested in Tour de France’

The 187.4km run from Almodôvar to Fóia was likely to be the first shake up on general classification after the opening sprint on stage one.

An early breakaway formed in the first 10k, made up of Brian van Goethem (Lotto-Soudal), Olivier le Gac (Groupama-FDJ), Rafael Reis (W52-FC Porto), Bruno Silva (Efapel) and Jesús Nanclares (Miranda-Mortágua), who were allowed a two-minute advantage.

The break were caught on a climb with 50km to ride, as the CCC Team duo of Amaro Atunes and Riccardo Zoidl went clear in a bid for the stage.

Zoidl was able to to pull out a 1-10 gap while working for his team-mate, as a four-man chasing group from the smaller teams tried and failed to bridge across.

With 20km to the line, the CCC pairing held a gap of 30 seconds.

Team Sky and Quick-Step controlled the chase to prevent the escapees making it to the foot of the climb, and they were caught 15km from the finish.

At the foot of the climb, Quick-Step set the pace to set up their Spanish revelation Mas, with Lotto-Soudal, Sky and UAE Team Emirates riding just behind.

>>> Matteo Trentin wins punishing sprint on stage two of Ruta del Sol 2019

Sky took over with their trademark blistering climbing pace to set up Wout Poels.

Brit Tao Geoghegan Hart took over with 6km and increased the pressure further, putting in an outstanding turn for Sky over the next 4km.

Geoghegan Hart’s turn put the hurt on Pogačar’s team-mate Fabio Aru who was dropped, but the young Slovenian kept himself tucked in the front group.

The first big attack came from Amaro Antunes (CCC Team) with just a smattering of riders left in contention in the final kilometre.

Poels put in a huge surge and caught the Portuguese rider before the line, but it was the young star Pogačar who was the strongest man as he passed the Dutchman to take the win.

Enric Mas tried to down the attacks but fell short, finishing third behind Poels.


Volta ao Algarve 2019, stage two: Almodôvar to Alto da Fóia (187.4km)

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 4-58-25
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 1 sec
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3s
4. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb, at 5s
5. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 7s
6.David de la Cruz (Esp) Team Sky, at 21s
7. João Rodrigues (Por) W52/FC Porto, at 24s
8. Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 27s
9. José Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 28s
10. Michael Valgren (Den) Dimension Data, at 49s

General classification after stage two

1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 9-51-23
2. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Sky, at 1 second
3. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3s
4. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb, at 5s
5. David de la Cruz (Esp) Team Sky, at 21s
6. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb, at 51s
7. João Rodriges (Por) W52/FC Porto, at 1-29
8. Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Team, at 1-42
9. Neilson Powless (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-46
10. Marc Hirschi (Sui) Sunweb, at same time

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Nizzolo believes knee injury woes are behind him with Tour of Oman win

Giacomo Nizzolo hopes his injury woes are behind him after undergoing knee surgery in December, and victory on the final stage of the Tour of Oman on Thursday confirmed his belief that he can get back to his best.

The Italian claimed seven victories times in 2016, including the Italian road race title, and went close to victory on several occasions at the Giro d’Italia. However, this was only his second victory since then.

Nizzolo only raced for 28 days in 2017 as he battled tendinitis in his knee. Despite winning at the Vuelta a San Juan, the problems continued into 2018, which ended with a hip fracture. Ahead of his first outings with Dimension Data – having left Trek-Segafredo – the decision was made to go under the knife.

“I had something under the kneecap that was rubbing all the time. They have taken it out, and now it looks like it’s fixed,” Nizzolo said after a visit to the podium in Oman.

“I was always training and stopping, training and stopping, and stopping for a long time. Like this, you cannot get your best level. Let’s hope now it’s finished and I can continue.”

As for whether he can return to his 2016 self, he said confidently: “For sure I can be back at this level.”

The road ahead

In that context, his Tour of Oman victory was an important step. Nizzolo had finished fourth on the opening day but triumphed on the Mattrah Corniche with a powerful long-range sprint along the right-hand side of the road. While Andre Greipel (Arkea-Samsic) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) clashed with Niccolo Bonifazio (Direct Energie) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Davide Ballerini (Astana) tried to go down the right, Nizzolo opted for the shortest line on the left.

“It meant a lot,” Nizzolo said. “After years, let’s say, that it means a lot to me. I had a hard winter, because I had the surgery on my knee in December, so I was not really ready for the races.

“For sure things are going well since the surgery. I’m just a bit behind. My shape is not the best because I started late with training. I’m really happy and this gives me confidence but I have to be realistic. I still know I have to work to reach my best condition but of course this gives me extra motivation for the upcoming races.”

Nizzolo has not yet decided if he will race the ‘opening weekend’ in Belgium next weekend, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne often being an opportunity for sprinters, but he will definitely ride Tirreno-Adriatico ahead of Milan-San Remo and a few cobbled Classics. After a short break, he will begin his build-up to the Giro d’Italia, where the aim will be to finally break his duck and win a stage.

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Simon Yates ‘not interested in Tour de France’

The Brit has explained his love of the Giro d’Italia and why the Tour is not on his radar

Simon Yates says he is ‘not interested in the Tour de France’ and that it doesn’t inspire the same passion at the Giro d’Italia for him.

The British star, who won his first Grand Tour last season, revealed he has no immediate plans to return to the Tour de France because he does not feel the same desire to win.

Yates, 26, came within two days of winning the 2018 Giro d’Italia before he fell out of contention dramatically on the penultimate mountain stage.

>>> Chris Froome pulls out of UAE Tour

He will return to the Giro this year to rid himself of the “bitter taste” that experience left.

In an interview with Spanish cycling website Ciclo21, the Mitchelton-Scott rider said: “You know what? I’m not interested in the Tour.

“I simply don’t feel the same passion for it.

“I go to the Giro and I’m anxious to win. I go to the Vuelta and the same things happens – I think ‘I can’t wait to start the race and try to win.’

“I don’t get that feeling when I ride the Tour.”

Yates, who won the Vuelta a España last season, is currently racing Ruta del Sol in support of his brother Adam and Jack Haig.

Ahead of his first race of the season, Yates said he was “ready to start racing again.”

>>> Egan Bernal: ‘I’m not afraid to lose the Giro d’Italia, Sky will keep paying me the same’

His 2018 season was a revelation, as he took his first Grand Tour win in Spain, after leading the Giro d’Italia for two weeks before falling out of contention dramatically on the penultimate mountain stage.

He left Italy with three stage wins, and the experience no doubt contributed to his victory in Spain four months later.

Yates is building his 2019 season around the Giro, as he heads to Paris-Nice next month, then the Volta a Catalyuna, before heading to Italy in May.

He is then expected to return to the Vuelta in August to defend his red jersey.

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Matteo Trentin wins punishing sprint on stage two of Ruta del Sol 2019

A long false flat to the line made for an unpredictable finish

Matteo Trentin won a punishing sprint with perfect timing on stage two of Ruta del Sol.

The Mitchelton-Scott rider chased down the early attempt of Ivan Garcia (Bahrain-Merida) and held off Danny Van Poppel (Jumbo-Visma) to take the win.

A long false flat run to the line resulted an in unpredictable sprint as rivals from smaller teams tried their luck alongside Trentin.

>>> Chris Froome pulls out of UAE Tour

Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) maintains his lead in the overall classification after finishing safely in the bunch.

The second stage of the 2019 edition had parcours set for the more versatile sprinters, with a long flat opening half before the altitude gain mounted up towards the line.

A single third category climb was placed towards the end of the 216km route from Sevilla to Torredonjimeno in southern Spain, but the road then gradually rose in 20km false flat to the line.

The day’s breakaway was formed of Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Group Gobert), Alexandr Kulikovskiy (Gazprom-RusVelo) , Mattia Viel (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Umberto Orsini (Bardiani-CSF), Juan Antonio López-Cozar (Euskadi Basque Country-Murias) and Dzmitry Zhyhunou (Fundación Euskadi), who pulled out seven minutes early in the stage.

But the escapees were slowly reeled in and caught in the final 30km, prompting Mitchelton-Scott to set the pace for the remainder of the run-in with Astana close behind.

The racing went through a lull period after the catch, before Burgos-BH rider Jorge Cubero attacked alone with 5km left to ride. He was quickly swallowed again by the peloton.

>>> Egan Bernal: ‘I’m not afraid to lose the Giro d’Italia, Sky will keep paying me the same’

Movistar hit the front in the final kilometre as the gradual gradient to the line kept the hopefuls waiting until the last possible moment.

An early surge from Nippo-Vini Fantini prompted a sprint from Garcia, but Trentin was able to use the late attacks to springboard past and cross the line first.

Van Poppel was close behind and threatened to pass Trentin, but the Italian held on to take his second win of 2019.


Ruta del Sol 2019, stage two: Sevilla to Torredonjimeno (216.5km)

1. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott, in 5-55-28
2. Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
3. Iván Garcia (Esp) Bahrain-Merida
4. Enrique Sanz (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Muria
5. Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giacattoli-Sidermec
6. Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Edward Plankaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
9. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Roompot-Charles
10. Carlos Barbero (Esp) Movistar, all at same time

General classification after stage two

1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, in 10-19-40
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 5 seconds
3. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4. Ion Izagirre (Esp) Astana, all at same time
5. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini Faizane
6. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 9s
7. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo
8. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana
9. Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, all at same time
10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Group Gobert), at 13s

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UAE Tour start list: Mark Cavendish, Vincenzo Nibali and Tom Dumoulin due to ride

The Middle East stage race is set for a huge line-up

The inaugural UAE Tour is set for a stellar line-up as Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) are amongst the big names due to ride.

Team Sky’s Chris Froome had been due to headline the race, but announced he would not be lining up four days before the start.

The Brit spent a number of weeks training and racing at altitude in Colombia and said he underestimated the effects of that load.

Michał Kwiatkowski and Gianni Moscon will share leadership responsibilities.

Organisers have confirmed the list of WorldTour teams scheduled to line-up when the race kicks off on February 24 as well as the two Professional Continental outfits taking part.

The UAE Tour, the only WorldTour race in the Middle East, is a merger between the Abu Dhabi and Dubai tours into a seven-day stage race.

A strong early season field is due to start the race, including sprinters Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin).

Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) was also a late addition to the racing.

>>> Giro d’Italia start list: confirmed list of teams for the 2019 race

World time trial champion Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) is also set to appear, as well as road world champ Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Other big name riders expected include Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), young star Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal),  Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and the Norweigian Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates).

The new seven-day race, which runs from February 24 to March 2, will consist of a team time trial on the opening day, three sprint stages, one for puncheurs and two days for the climbers.

All seven United Emirates will feature in the race – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.

>>> Romain Bardet believes a French Tour de France winner is near 

The total distance will be 1,090km with most of the 4,500metres elevation gain accumulated in stages three, four and six.

Stage one opens on Sunday, February 24 with a 16km team time trial in Abu Dhabi, followed by another Abu Dhabi stage the following day.

Then stage three features the first UAE Tour climb – 1,025metres to Jebel Hafeet with a maximum gradient of 11 per cent.

Stage four includes features from the queen stage of the former Dubai Tour, including a finish atop the punchy Hatta Dam climb.

A long flat stage in Sharjah follows on stage five, before the first mountain day on stage six – a 20km uphill finish at Jebel Jais with a five per cent average.

This final day is a parade through Dubai with an expected bunch sprint.

UAE Tour 2019 start list

Movistar (Esp)

1. VALVERDE Alejandro (Esp)
2. AMADOR Andrey (Crc)
3. BENNATI Daniele (Ita)
4. MAS Lluís (Esp)
5. FERNÁNDEZ Rubén (Esp)
6. SÜTTERLIN Jasha (Ger)
7. OLIVEIRA Nelson (Por)

AG2R La Mondiale (Fra) – confirmed

11. LATOUR Pierre (Fra)
12. BOUCHARD Geoffrey (Fra)
13. COSNEFROY Benoît (Fra)
14. DUMOULIN Samuel (Fra)
15. GALLOPIN Tony (Fra)
16. JAUREGUI Quentin (Fra)
17. WARBASSE Larry (USA)

Astana Pro Team (Kaz)

21. IZAGIRRE Gorka (Esp)
22. BOARO Manuele (Ita)
23. FOMINYKH Daniil (Kaz)
24. FRAILE Omar (Esp)
25. GRUZDEV Dmitriy (Kaz)
26. HIRT Jan (Cze)
27. VILLELLA Davide (Ita)

Bahrain Merida (BRN)

31. NIBALI Vincenzo (Ita)
32. BAUHAUS Phil (Ger)
33. CARUSO Damiano (Ita)
34. DENNIS Rohan (Aus)
35. HAUSSLER Heinrich (Aus)
36. SIEBERG Marcel (Ger)
37. TRATNIK Jan (Slo)

BORA – Hansgrohe (Ger) – confirmed

41. FORMOLO Davide (Ita)
42. BAŠKA Erik (Svk)
43. BENNETT Sam (Irl)
44. BUCHMANN Emanuel (Ger)
45. KENNAUGH Peter (GBr)
46. PFINGSTEN Christoph (Ger)
47. SCHACHMANN Maximilian (Ger)

CCC Team (Pol) – confirmed

51. PAUWELS Serge (Bel)
52. BEVIN Patrick (NZL)
53. DE LA PARTE Víctor (Esp)
54. DE MARCHI Alessandro (Ita)
55. MARECZKO Jakub (Ita)
56. OWSIAN Łukasz (Pol)

Deceuninck – Quick Step (Bel)

61. VIVIANI Elia (Ita)
62. DEVENYNS Dries (Bel)
63. EVENEPOEL Remco (Bel)
64. HONORÉ Mikkel Frølich (Den)
65. KNOX James (GBr)
66. MØRKØV Michael (Den)
67. SABATINI Fabio (Ita)

EF Education First (USA)

72. BENNETT Sean (USA)
73. CLARKE Simon (Aus)
74. MCLAY Daniel (GBr)
75. MODOLO Sacha (Ita)
76. VAN DEN BERG Julius (Ned)

Gazprom-RusVelo (Rus)

81. PORSEV Alexander (Rus)
82. ARSLANOV Ildar (Rus)
83. BOEV Igor (Rus)
84. KURIANOV Stepan (Rus)
85. NYCH Artem (Rus)
86. SHILOV Sergey (Rus)
87. VOROBYEV Anton (Rus)

Groupama – FDJ (Fra)

91. ROUX Anthony (Fra)
92. ARMIRAIL Bruno (Fra)
93. DELAGE Mickaël (Fra)
94. GAUDU David (Fra)
95. REICHENBACH Sébastien (Sui)
96. SARREAU Marc (Fra)
97. SCOTSON Miles (Aus)

Lotto Soudal (Bel)

101. EWAN Caleb (Aus)
102. BLYTHE Adam (GBr)
103. HANSEN Adam (Aus)
104. KLUGE Roger (Ger)
105. LAMBRECHT Bjorg (Bel)
106. MONFORT Maxime (Bel)

Mitchelton-Scott (Aus)

111. ALBASINI Michael (Sui)
112. BAUER Jack (Aus)
113. BEWLEY Sam (Aus)
115. GRMAY Tsgabu (Eth)
116. MEZGEC Luka (Slo)
117. SCOTSON Callum (Aus)

Dimension Data (RSA)

121. CAVENDISH Mark (GBr)
122. EISEL Bernhard (Aut)
123. GHEBREIGZABHIER Amanuel (Eri)
125. KREUZIGER Roman (Cze)
126. MEINTJES Louis (RSA)
127. THOMSON Jay Robert (RSA)

14. Jumbo-Visma (Ned) – confirmed

131. ROGLIČ Primož (Slo)
132. BOUWMAN Koen (Ned)
133. DE PLUS Laurens (Bel)
134. LEEZER Tom (Ned)
135. MARTENS Paul (Ger)
136. MARTIN Tony (Ger)
137. VAN EMDEN Jos (Ned)

Katusha – Alpecin (Sui)

141. KITTEL Marcel (Ger)
142. DOWSETT Alex (GBr)
143. HALLER Marco (Aut)
144. KOCHETKOV Pavel (Rus)
145. NAVARRO Daniel (Esp)
146. ZABEL Rick (Ger)
147. ZAKARIN Ilnur (Rus)

Team Novo Nordisk (USA) – confirmed

151. IRVINE Declan (Aus)
152. BENHAMOUDA Mehdi (Fra)
153. BRAND Sam (Gbr)
154. CALABRIA Fabio (Aus)
155. KUSZTOR Péter (Hun)
156. PERON Andrea (Ita)
157. PLANET Charles (Fra)

Team Sky (GBr) – confirmed

161. ELISSONDE Kenny (Fra)
162. GOŁAŚ Michał (Pol)
163. HALVORSEN Kristoffer (Nor)
164. KWIATKOWSKI Michał (Pol)
165. MOSCON Gianni (Ita)
166. PUCCIO Salvatore (Ia)
167. SIVAKOV Pavel (Rus)

Sunweb (Ger) – confirmed

171. DUMOULIN Tom (Ned)
172. ARNDT Nikias (Ger)
173. BOL Cees (Ned)
174. HAGA Chad (USA)
175. KELDERMAN Wilco (Ned)
176. POWER Robert (Aus)
177. WALSCHEID Max (Ger)

Trek – Segafredo (USA)

181. PORTE Richie (Aus)
182. CLARKE Will (Aus)
183. EG Niklas (Den)
184. IRIZAR Markel (Esp)
185. MOLLEMA Bauke (Ned)
186. MOSCHETTI Matteo (Ita)
187. REIJNEN Kiel (USA)

UAE-Team Emirates (UAE)

191. KRISTOFF Alexander (Nor)
192. GAVIRIA Fernando (Col)
193. COSTA Rui (Por)
194. LAENGEN Vegard Stake (Nor)
195. MARTIN Dan (Irl)
196. TROIA Oliviero (Ita)
197. ULISSI Diego (Ita)

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Nizzolo takes Tour of Oman final stage victory while Lutsenko seals overall win

Three stage wins hands Lutsenko victory after a dominant performance

As expected, the final stage of  the Tour of Oman came down to a bunch sprint, with Dimension Data’s Giacomo Nizzolo taking the honours. The Italian was led out consummately by team mate Ryan Gibbons, who finished fifth, capping a good day for the team.

In what was a close fought sprint, Nizzolo managed to pip compatriot Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) into second place, with another Italian, Davide Ballerini (Astana) in third.

Ballerini’s team mate, Alexey Lutsenko finished in the bunch, enough to win the general classification for the second consecutive year.

Lutsenko was the dominant rider throughout the six stage race. Taking the overall lead in stage three and not relinquishing it while winning two further stages, including Wednesday’s queen stage to Jabar Al Akhdhar (Green Mountain.)

Astana themselves have had an excellent month, bagging ten victories in February alone.

Kazakh champion Lutsenko will travel home before heading to Belgium for the Opening Weekend where he will ride with Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne Brussels-Kuurne. He is however, expected to skip the other northern classics in favour of the Ardennes in April.

How it happened

The 135.5km sixth stage between Al Mouj Muscat and Matrah Corniche, saw a huge fight to get in the early breakaway. Though CCC’s Nathan van Hooydonck escaped in the opening kilometre, behind him it was chaos, as group after group tried their luck, only to be brought back by a raging peloton.

In the end the bunch saw fit to allow three individuals go up the road, each of them catching the leader one by one until, after 17km a group of four formed.

Van Hooydonck was joined by Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2R), Alexis Guerin (Delko-Marseille Provence) and Adam de Vos (Rally-UHC), and over the ensuing 10km the quartet set about increasing their lead to 3.20.

Behind, the Astana team of race leader Alexey Lutsenko were allowed a rest as some of the sprinters’ teams took responsibility for managing the gap, which remained constant until 35km.

Then, a brief period of crosswinds saw Direct Energie threatening to split the bunch, though they did not have time before the course changed direction, and all they actually achieved was to reduce the gap to the leaders to 2.30. There the lead remained as the race sped along Oman’s version of the M25, the Muscat Expressway, bypassing the built up costal strip.

The race finally left the main roads, passing through crowded village streets before tackling the short but painfully steep climb of Al Hamriyah. By this time, with 52km to go, the bunch had closed in further, the gap down to 1.48.

From thereon the leaders’ advantage was whittled away gently by a peloton that was never out of control. With Guerin dropped early on the first of three closing 7.5km laps, the breakaway’s fate was sealed and they were eventually caught on the final circuit.

The day was not without incident, however. Winner on the Corniche for the preceding three years, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) was caught in a crash and forced to abandon with an injured knee, while Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) suffered severe road rash, apparently in the same incident, but continued to finish second overall.


Tour of Oman 2019, stage six: Al Mouj Muscat to Matrah Corniche (135.5km)

1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data in 3-07-12
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana
4. Clément Venturini (Fra) Ag2R
5. Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
6. Boris Vallée (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Reto Hollenstein (Sui) Katusha-Alpecin
8. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen
9. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
10. Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates all at same time

Final general classification

1. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, in 21-45-51
2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 44s
3, Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at 47s
4. Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates, at 53s
5. Élie Gesbert (Fra) Arkea-Samsic, at 1-03
6. Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-14
7. Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles, at 1-25
8. Fabien Doubey (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, at 1-31
9. Brandon McNulty (USA) Rally-UHC, at 1-43
10. Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels, at 1-51

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Rapha launches new detachable women’s bib shorts

Rapha finally unveils a pee stop ready pair of bib shorts for women

Rapha has released two new pairs of women’s cycling shorts, both featuring a new and redeveloped chamois, whilst the race ready bibs also come with a new detachable strap to finally allow for Rapha comfort with easy toilet breaks.

The new chamois has been three years in development, following testing by 38 different riders, covering over 15,000 kilometres.

The multi-thickness pads come in two different sizes, with a seamless construction that aims to eliminate chafing, plus a pre-moulded shape for optimal support. The dual-density foam is softer at the front, and firmer over the sit bones.

The Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts come with a self-centering magnetic clasp, which can be unclipped without removing a jersey, and dropped at the back for quick comfort breaks.

The design shares some similarities with the women’s Specialized SL Pro bib shorts which won an Editor’s Choice award in 2017.

Tested by the Canyon SRAM race team, it’s a race short designed for high tempo riding, and uses a thin layer of high-density foam whilst soft fabric over the legs offers compression and comfort and bonded seams aim to cut down on chafing.

Also on offer within the new line-up are the Rapha Cargo Bib Shorts, with ample pockets designed to cut down on the amount of clutter weighing down jersey pockets.

There’s deep pockets at the lower back, as per a jersey, as well as on the legs, with lightweight mesh covering which is ideal if you’re avoiding squishing a banana or that coffee-shop-cake wrapped in a napkin.

Lightweight material is designed to be used in high temperatures, thanks to a version of the top end ‘Shadow’ fabric, which is wind and water resistant whilst being quick drying.

The chamois is designed for all day wear, with a highly breathable mesh upper which will work well if and when a jersey needs to be unzipped.

Both pairs of bib shorts come in at £195, and are on sale now.

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Tour de France organisers confirm 2021 race will start abroad in Copenhagen

Rumours began to circulate on Wednesday with the organisers releasing the details the following day

The 2021 Tour de France will start in Copenhagen, race organisers have confirmed.

Denmark will host the opening three stages of the Tour, including an individual time trial on the opening day and two road stages.

The Tour de France has started in Denmark, but has made its way north to Yorkshire and east into Germany for previous departs. The city hosted the World Championships in 2011, when Mark Cavendish won the road race.

Rumour circulated on Wednesday (February 20), with Tour organiser ASO confirming the details on Thursday morning (February 21).

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Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said: “The Tour de France is the biggest cycling race on Earth, but we still have much to learn.

“The Danes set an outstanding example by making bicycles their leading means of transport in urban areas.

“In Copenhagen, we will meet fans who acclaim the champions of world cycling. The energy that supporters and curious locals will channel to riders, followers and viewers of the Tour will most assuredly be a great source of inspiration to succeed in our greatest challenge – seeing the future on a bike.”

Stage one will be a 13km time trial around Copenhagen, followed by a 190km road stage from Roskilde to Nyborg for stage two.

Finally, stage three will be another road stage over 170km from Vejle to Sønderborg.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rusmussen said: “I am both very happy and very proud that the Tour de France is coming to Denmark.

“Denmark is one of the greatest cycling nations in the world, so to be able to welcome the best bike riders in the world and host the world’s most iconic cycling race is an honour and a privilege.

“The Danes are more than ready to host one of the greatest sporting events in the world. I really look forward to the summer of 2021.” 

The first Tour abroad was in 1954. Of the three Grand Tours, only the Giro d’Italia has begun in Denmark having started in Herning, home of Danish Tour winner Bjarne Riis in 2012.

In 2019, the Tour starts in Brussels and in 2020, it starts at home in Nice.

It is unclear how the Tour will travel back to France. Unlike the Giro d’Italia, it usually does not stop for an early rest day. The Giro d’Italia last year included one after three stages in Israel to return to its homeland.

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