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VN news ticker: Vincenzo Nibali offers views about Giro route, Remco Evenepoel to race into Olympic form at Giro

Here's what's making headlines on Friday, February 26.

Vincenzo Nibali on 2021 Giro route: ‘We have the sacred monsters, the Zoncolan above all’

Reacting to the 2021 Giro d’Italia route announcement earlier this week, two-time Giro winner Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) was all-in for the challenges presented to the riders.

“I really like the route of the Giro 2021. As always, the Corsa Rosa stands out for its toughness and unpredictability,” the 36-year-old said. “We have three new finishes to discover, such as Campo Felice, Sega di Ala and Alpe di Mera. As in the best tradition of the Giro, there’s always something new that can stir things. And then we have the sacred monsters, the Zoncolan above all.”

“The presence of the opening and closing time trials is a substantial novelty compared to the last editions and a factor that is certainly not secondary for the Maglia Rosa fight,” Nibali continued. “At Trek-Segafredo, we will be at the start with three captains ready to make a great race for the team. That’s the priority. About my ambitions, between the GC and the hunt for the stages, I’ll find out along the way.”

Nibali won the 2013 and 2016 editions of the Giro, and seven individual stages of the corsa rosa.

The 2020 winner, Tao Geoghegan Hart will not return to defend his title, focusing his attention on his Tour de France debut instead.

Remco Evenepoel on the Giro d’Italia as preparation for the Olympics

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) plans on starting the 2021 Giro d’Italia if his recovery from his crash at the 2020 Il Lombardia progresses as planned.

And if all goes well, he’ll use the fitness gained at the first grand tour of the 2021 season to catapult himself into form for the coming Tokyo Games. With slightly more than 90 days until the start of the Giro, Evenepoel was cleared to ramp up his training last week.

With several altitude camps — and a lot of solo time on the bike — before the start of the Giro, Evenepoel understands he still has fitness to gain, but is looking forward to putting in the work.

“We will leave for Tenerife next week. I still have a long way to go. I normally whistle up a short slope in the neighborhood. Now [I’m] gasping for breath,” says Evenepoel. “I now have to work on my base again, [and build into] long distance.”

After the first altitude camp, Evenepoel will be joined by his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates. And by this time, he hopes to have enough endurance base to keep with them.

“I won’t be doing six-hour rides like the teammates. I will limit myself to three or four-hour rides. This altitude training course is actually a preparation for a second altitude training course in April, in the direct run-up to the Tour of Italy.”

After the Giro, Evenepoel plans on a training block to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, without the interruptions of more races on his calendar.

“That has always been the plan, even if I could have raced again sooner. That remains as it was. It has already worked out well for me a few times to perform well immediately after altitude training.”

UCI to allow travel screenings as pre-race COVID tests

The UCI announced Friday that it will allow travel screenings to stand-in for pre-race COVID screenings. However, cycling’s governing body was quick to note that updates to protocols do not take precedence over local and national regulations; the updates apply to first and foremost teams (athletes and staff) and will be updated as the global health situation evolves.

“Progress has been made in the fight against coronavirus, especially with the arrival of vaccines, which have given us hope that we can soon make a gradual return to a more ‘normal’ life. However, given that athletes and young adults are not among governments’ priorities for vaccination, we have decided, in conjunction with the steering group – which includes representatives of the riders, teams, team doctors, and organizers – to maintain similarly high standards as last year,” said UCI President David Lappartient.

In the updated policy, the UCI indicates that the same health requirements for entry into bubbles — two negative PCR (salivary sample) tests before each UCI WorldTour or ProTour race — still apply for all athletes, management, and support staff, and also tests that must be taken to gain entry to a country are valid as pre-race tests. Antigen tests will not be accepted due to the relative lower reliability with regards to new virus variants.

The UCI stresses that PCR tests for all members of the peloton bubble, including those already vaccinated, will continue. Additionally, during the three grand tours, testing will take place on the rest days.

Woman in orange jersey sits up to celebrate crossing the finish
Jolien D’hoore is in her last season as a professional cyclist. Photo: David Stockman/Getty Images

Jolien D’hoore on what’s next after her final season, ‘Weddings, children, and my own training center’

SD Worx rider Jolien D’hoore, 30, is in her final seasons of racing as a professional cyclist. And while she has the Olympic Games in her sights, she’ll line up for a few races before Tokyo.

“But [30] is a good time to stop. I think you should do that at a peak. Not after the infamous ‘year too much,’” she says.

The Belgian plans on Omloop Het Niewsblad, Le Samyn, Nokere Koerse, Omloop van de Westhoek, and the first edition of the women’s Paris-Robaix.

D’hoore says of the first-ever “Hell of the North” for the women’s peloton that while everyone is excited, the race will be very challenging.

“That will be something special. Everyone is looking forward to it, but at the same time, it will also be a very tough match. A lot of girls don’t realize that yet,” says D’hoore.

After this season concludes, D’hoore plans to move to coaching.

“I want to stay on track after my active career. Passing on my experience to the youth. Follow up and coach those girls,” says D’hoore. “I already had a physical education diploma. But I am very interested in strength training, in fitness,” she added. “My dream is to set up my own training center. (laughs) And I’m going to achieve that.”

After retirement from racing, D’hoore says wants to stay connected with cycling and has taken steps to do so, while also planning around a personal life.

“I completed a personal training course. So now I am a personal coach. The intention is that I mainly focus on cycling,” she says. “My biological clock is ticking. I would really like [children].”

Julian Alaphilippe’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 with Shimano Dura-Ace components. Photo: Wout Beel

Deceuninck-Quick-Step extends with Shimano as component partner

Deceuninck-Quick-Step announced Friday the extension of its partnership with Shimano.

“The agreement is an extension to a long-term existing partnership between Deceuninck – Quick-Step and Shimano, who as well as supplying class-leading componentry to our team, will also support our technical staff with their in-depth knowledge and support,” the team said in an announcement.

In 2020 alone, the “Wolfpack” rode Specialized bikes fitted with Shimano equipment and boasted of Julian Alaphilippe’s world championship win, Sam Bennett’s green jersey at the Tour de France, and João Almeida’s stint in the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia.

“We are obviously extremely happy to be partnering with Shimano again. They share our passion for developing cycling technology and always striving for improvement. This agreement does not only mean that we will continue to be supplied with Shimano products but also allows for a shared knowledge base of expertise and experience that means that our riders can be confident that they are riding with the best performing equipment and setup around,” said Deceuninck-Quick-Step technical and development director Ricardo Scheidecker.

FSA and Vision components will adorn Ceratizit’s Orbea bikes for 2021. Photo: Ceratizit-WNT/Orbea

Ceratizit–WNT Pro Cycling Team partners with Castelli, FSA, Vision for 2021

The Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team picked up component manufacturer FSA and sibling brand Vision for the 2021 season. Additionally, the team will be adorned in Castelli kits.

The team’s sports director Dir Baladinger is excited about the partnership with the top-tier equipment manufacturer’s commitment to the team.

“We will also be using the handmade Vision Metron SL Disc wheels, the benefits of which are the lightness and aerodynamics of the carbon rim wheels. An all-round wheel which will be vital for our sprinters and climbers to be competitive for victories,” said sports director Dirk Baldinger. “We’ll be using the FSA Powerbox power meter, a fundamental tool that will help the riders to track their data directly during the training to be more and more competitive on the race day, in modern-day cycling, the power meter crank is where everything starts for a rider.”