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VN news ticker: Eight women’s WorldTeams to start Dwars door Vlaanderen, USA Cycling Olympic Development Academy timeline

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, February 18.

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Eight Women’s WorldTeams to start Dwars door Vlaanderen

Alé BTC Ljubljana, Canyon-SRAM, FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope, Liv Racing, Movistar Team Women, Team DSM, Team BikeExchange and Trek-Segafredo are to race the Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, March 31. Only SD Worx — also a WorldTeam — will not line up at the Belgian classic.

Without the Dutch-based squad, neither current world champion Anna van der Breggen nor former world champion and 2020 Tour of Flanders winner Chantal van den Broek-Blaak will be at the starting banner in Waregem.

In addition to the eight of nine Women’s WorldTeams, 20 Continental teams will start — including Jumbo-Visma with Marianne Vos and Lotto Soudal Ladies — the mid-week semi-classic.

USA Cycling Olympic Development Academy timeline

USA Cycling announced Wednesday the timeline for the inaugural class of its Olympic Development Academy (ODA). The newly updated timeline accounts for athletes being engaged in the program for the entire 2021 season with no additional cost.

The updated USAC ODA timeline is:

  • Application deadline for Academy and scholarship, March 15
  • Academy applicants finalized and contacted, April 5
  • Olympic Development Academy athletes announced, April 15
  • 2021 Super Semester official start, May 1

Due to restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic, the ODA curriculum will not begin until May 2021, but USA Cycling indicates all schedules are subject to change.

The USA Cyclin ODA is a program created for junior and U23 athletes to receive coaching, comprehensive training curriculums, and competition schedules.

Tom Pidcock debuts at Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var

Tom Pidcock makes his Ineos Grenadiers debut at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var starting Friday in France. The highly touted Pidcock is joined by Geraint Thomas, Rohan Dennis, and Tao Geoghegan Hart, racing for the first time since winning the Giro d’Italia.

Other big names marking their 2021 season debut at the three-stage race include Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Michael Woods and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama–FDJ), and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech). U.S. rider Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) also sees his WorldTour season debut, while Joe Dombrowski (UAE-Emirates) and Logan Owen (EF Education-Nippo) also start.

“It’s a tough little race this so it’s a good chance to check your condition and to see how things are going for the spring season,” said Qhubeka-Assos’s Simon Clarke. “There will be no hiding at Haut Var, you can’t come there if you haven’t put in the hard work so it will be good to see how it’s all going. The race is three tough stages, all uphill finishes and all over 3,000m of climbing, every day. It’s going to be a tough challenge but a good block of racing, that’s for sure.”

Report: Guillaume Martin extends with Cofidis

French sports daily L’Equipe reports that French rider Guillaume Martin will sign a contract extension to stay with Cofidis beyond 2021. The 27-year-old finished a career-best 11th overall at the 2020 Tour and was the top French rider on the GC. Martin later won the climber’s jersey at the Vuelta a España.

“I’m feeling better and I hope to be in good condition at the Drôme-Ardèche races. After that, I’ll be at Paris-Nice, where I hope to be able to contest for a stage victory or the overall GC,” Martin said. Later he will race the Basque Country tour, Ardennes classics, the Critérium du Dauphiné, and the Tour.

Qhubeka-Assos encouraged by winning start to 2021

Giacomo Nizzolo‘s win at the Clásica de Almería is a boon for Qhubeka-Assos, as the team rides into 2021 with optimism following a tumultuous 2020 season that saw the team nearly fold.

“Every professional team wants to win and, if possible, right from the beginning of the season,” said sport director Lars Michaelsen. “With Giacomo Nizzolo’s win in Clásica de Almería we got just that – both a nice win and also an early win. Our hope throughout the season is, that we can pick out our days and surprise here and there. Of course, these moments have to fall into what’s reasonable to expect from our team.”

Olav Kooij jumps to WorldTour squad at Jumbo-Visma

Olav Kooij makes an immediate move from the development team of Team Jumbo-Visma to the World Tour team, officials said Thursday. The 19-year old Dutchman won six races in 2020, and the idea was to transfer him to the main team in the middle of this season, but an injury to Mike Teunissen and the uncertain future of Tom Dumoulin opened up some space. Also, the cancelation of many U23 races also prompted the change.

“With Olav we propose a balanced talent development program,” said sport director Merijn Zeeman. “Unfortunately more and more races are dropped from our development team program and at the same time more space is created in the pro program by the temporary loss of riders. This creates a situation for Olav in which a transfer is the best contribution to his training and development.”

Kooij will make his debut for the World Tour team in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.