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VN news ticker: Kruijswijk, Gesink, van Emden extend with Jumbo-Visma; Alberto Contador says ‘Gen Z’ redefining peloton

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

Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, and Jos van Emden extend with Jumbo-Visma through 2023

Steven Kruijswijk, Robert Gesink, and Jos van Emden extended their respecive contracts with with Jumbo-Visma through 2023.

“Jos, Steven, and Robert have helped to create a new culture in the team”, team boss Richard Plugge said. “From about 2013 they have contributed to that change. They helped shape our way of working and interacting with each other. They are the carriers of the Blanco Koers, in which this working method has been laid down. Robert, Jos and Steven have been involved in this very much. They were riders who saw that things had to and could be done differently. I like that very much. We have been through a lot together in the meantime. That makes it extra nice that they will stay with us for at least two more years.”

“I am happy to be part of this fantastic team for two more years. That is great news. From a young age, I always had the dream to cycle with the biggest Dutch team. That is Team Jumbo-Visma,” said Gesink. “I still want to be part of that.”

The team announced the riders’ contract updates Tuesday, as Kruijswijk continued racing at the Volta a Catalunya with an 18.5-kilometer time trial.

“I have a long history with this team. I feel very much at home here. Everything the team has been through in recent years I have also experienced. I have not only seen the team grow, but also myself,” commented Kruijswijk. “We have always done that together. For the future, I still see an important role for myself and I hope to achieve the results as I have shown in the past. I am really looking forward to continuing to work with the team in this way at least until the end of 2023.”

Over the past several seasons the Dutch squad has experienced success with rallying the team behind captain Primož Roglič at the grand tours, and Wout van Aert in one-day races.

Mark Cavendish in leader’s jersey at Coppi e Bartali

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is leader at Coppi e Bartali after a double stage in Italy on Tuesday.

The British star kicked to second in the opening stage sprint behind Jakub Mareczko (Vini Zabù), and then came in third with his teammates in the afternoon team time trial.

Israel Start-Up Nation won the 10.8km TTT, just 1 second faster than Astana-Premier Tech. Deceuninck-Quick-Step stopped the clock in third, with Ian Garrison leading the team across the line at 2 seconds slower.

With time bonuses, Cavendish slots into the overall lead.

It’s unlikely Cavendish will defend the jersey in Wednesday’s challenging 163km second stage from Riccione to Sogliano al Rubicone. The stage ends with a hard finishing circuit featuring a second-category climb and steep uphill finale. 

Alberto Contador says ‘Gen Z’ redefining peloton

Retired grand tour superstar Alberto Contador said he’s amazed by the performances of a new fleet of young stars in the elite men’s peloton that includes the likes of Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar. Speaking to the Spanish daily El Mundo, the 38-year-old Spaniard called the new generation “beasts” on the bike.

“This generation is a beast,” Contador said. “They’re acting like professionals at 15, they’re very competitive, and they’re breaking all the records.”

Contador signaled Evenepoel as potentially one of the top 5 riders in history, and lauded Pogačar’s aggressive style, adding, “He’s a bit like me, and he likes to attack from far away. He doesn’t wait until the final kilometer to sprint. Instead, he likes to move very far from the finish line, and it suits him perfectly.”

Also read: Tadej Pogačar and his Merckxian GC winning streak

The Spanish star, who is part of the management group behind the Eolo-Kometa group, said today’s stars don’t specialize in only one aspect of racing.

“We used to specialize in one-week stage races, or grand tours, or the classics. Today’s generation does it all,” Contador said. “[Mathieu van der Poel] is capable of attacking from 60km to go, or go up against the best sprinters, and beat them. He has a lot of charisma and hooks the fans. This is good for cycling.”

Contador, who retired in 2017, wondered if the younger generation will be able to last into the second decade of their respective careers, and cautioned about burnout.

“Like others in his generation, [Wout van Aert] is ambitious, but one wonders how long they can perform at this level and how it will impact their mental wear and tear,” Contador said. “We’ve already seen riders like Dumoulin, Kittel or Kennaugh who left cycling at 30 because they couldn’t handle the pressure.”

Chris Froome can’t follow accelerations at Volta a Catalunya opener

Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) did not follow accelerations on the day’s major rated climb in Monday’s opening stage at the Volta a Catalunya. The four-time Tour de France winner was gapped on a first-category climb that broke up the pack.

Froome came across the line 96th at 8:30 back, but he admitted even before the race started he would not be fighting for the overall at the weeklong Spanish race.

“I’m just coming off an altitude training block now, so it will be a good test for me to see where my progression is,” Froome told reporters at the race. “I know I’m not going to be personally fighting for the victory here, I won’t be at that level yet.”

Also read: Commentary: ‘Losing faith in Chris Froome’s comeback’

“I’m just taking really one week at a time at the moment, and doing the best I can and seeing where we get to for the Tour,” Froome said. “I’m hoping to see some progression.”

The 100th Volta continues Tuesday with an 18.5km individual time trial at Banyoles.