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VN news ticker: AG2R-Citroën brings Naesen and Van Avermaet to classics opening weekend, Alpenrose velodrome and event space shutters operations

Here's what's making headlines on Tuesday, February 23.

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AG2R-Citroën bringing squad to support Naesen, Van Avermaet in opening cobbled classics weekend

AG2R-Citroën is betting on Greg Van Avermaet for the opening weekend of the Belgian cobbled classics. The 2016 Olympic road race champion won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2016 and 2017 and was third in 2014 and 2019. The French squad is sending Oliver Naesen, Alexis Gougeard, Michael Schar, Lawrence Naesen, Gijs Van Hoecke, and Damien Touze to support Van Avermaet.

“I am happy to be able now to share this with Greg Van Avermaet who is a good friend,” said Oliver Naesen. “I do not have the same benchmarks as other years as to my form because due to the cancellation of the races in Spain, I had to change my program. So I raced with a different peloton. Nevertheless, the level was high and I felt in good shape. That is definitely a good sign.”

Starting Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne the following day, Van Avermaet will ride in support of Oliver Naseen, and have Julien Duval, Anthony Julien, Michael Schar, Gijs Van Hoecke, and Marc Serreau to assist with pacemaking.

“We have made it clear that we have big ambitions and these two opening races are important. With Oliver and Greg, we have two great cards to play with a strong team around our leaders,” said AG2R-Citroën directeur sportif Julien Jurdie.

Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland, OR shutters operations

The Alpenrose Velodrome, in Portland, OR, shuttered its doors after nearly 60 years of operation. The velodrome infield space and adjacent lands used for cyclocross have also been shuttered as of today.

Since 1962, the Cadonau family, owners of the Alpenrose Dairy, hosted track racing and cyclocross events on the property. However, when the family sold the dairy in 2019 to a Seattle, WA-based owner, concerns were raised about the future of cycling events on the property.

The velodrome hosted a weekly racing series, while the ’cross venue brought the riders together for the Cross Crusade, Super Cup, and Blind Date Series.

Filippo Ganna extends his time trial winning streak

There’s no stopping world time trial champion Filippo Ganna against the clock. The Ineos Grenadiers star bounded to victory Monday and extended his winning streak in time trials.

Ganna has won eight-time trials in a row that he’s started, dating back to the 2020 Italian national time trial championships in August. He then won a time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico before stomping to the world title in Italy.

He backed that up by sweeping all three-time trials in last year’s Giro d’Italia. He opened 2021 with wins against the clock at Étoile de Bessèges and Monday at the UAE Tour.

His next scheduled time trial in stage 7 at Tirreno-Adriatico in March. All but two of his 13 career pro victories on the road have come against the clock.

Antonio Tiberi did not start following spectacular finish-line crash in UAE Tour time trial

Trek-Segafredo’s Antonio Tiberi did not start Tuesday’s third stage a day after suffering a spectacular finish-line crash in the time trial stage at the UAE Tour.

It wasn’t exactly clear what happened, but Tiberi crashed just meters short of the finish line. He was hitting top speed at above 50kph, and slammed hard on his shoulder, and slid across the finish line. Team officials later confirmed that he was transported to a local hospital where he received stitches to a deep wound on his right knee and was evaluated for other injuries.

Despite the crash, the 19-year-old WorldTour rookie was Trek-Segafredo’s fastest finisher when he, and his bike, stopped the clock in a time of 14 minutes, 45 seconds. He still managed to finish 19th on the stage.

Giro d’Italia reveals course details Wednesday

The route of the 104th edition of the Giro d’Italia, set for May 8-30, will be revealed Wednesday in an event without public in RAI studios in Milano.

Several details are already confirmed. The “big start” will be in Italy’s Piedmont region, with the opening-day time trial in Turino. The second stage runs from Stupinigi to Novara and the third from Biella to Canala, also in the Piedmont.

The race already revealed its wildcard invitations, which included Vini Zabù, Bardiani, and Eolo-Kometa, the new team backed by Alberto Contador and Ivan Basso. Overlooked were Italian team Androni-Sidermec and Nairo Quintana’s Arkéa-Samsic.