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VN news ticker: Joâo Almeida earns first pro win in TT, Tim Wellens will not race Tour de France

Here's the news making headlines for Friday, June 18.

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Joâo Almeida earns first pro win in TT

For a rider who’s hit WorldTour podiums and rode to fourth in his grand tour debut at the 2020 Giro d’Italia, it’s somewhat surprising that Joâo Almeida‘s win at the Portuguese national time trial Friday is his first as a pro.

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider powered to a 54-second victory in the 30.5km course to claim the national title.

“I can’t wait to wear this beautiful jersey for the next 12 months,” Almeida said. “But the nationals aren’t over, as there’s still the road race on Sunday. It will be harder, but I will give everything and see what I can get out of it.”

Almeida, 22, is coming off a solid sixth place at the Giro d’Italia last month.

Also Friday, Deceuninck-Quick-Step announced that Belgian brand Safety Jogger will join the Belgian WorldTour team as a partner from 2022-2024 in a three-year deal.

Team boss Patrick Lefevere recently secured the team’s future with confirmation that Quick-Step will stay on through 2027, assuring that the likes of Remco Evenepoel and Julian Alaphilippe will stay in team colors.Asgreen, Norsgaard, Tratnik big winners in national TT championships as Tadej Pogačar loses out

Kasper Asgreen and Emma Norsgaard (Denmark), Tobias Foss and Katrine Aalerud (Norway), Audrey Cordon Ragot (France), Aleksandr Vlasov (Russia) and Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) were among the newly crowned national TT champions Thursday.

Perhaps the surprise result was Tratnik’s victory in Slovenia, which saw defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar finish third. Tratnik also beat Pogačar’s UAE Emirates teammate Jan Polanc in the race through Koper.

Tour of Flanders champ Asgreen doubled up his 2019 title in the lengthy 48km test in Denmark, a promising sign ahead of his start at the Tour de France for Deceuninck-Quick-Step this next weekend.

“I was expecting the course to be a lot faster, but it ended up being very tough because of the wind, which forced me to fight hard out there,” Asgreen said.

“I kept fighting and believing and in the end it worked out well, which makes me happy. I have enjoyed having this jersey in the last two years and I’m happy I will be able to show it over the next twelve months in some big races.”

Movistar took two national titles, with Norsgaard winning the women’s race in Denmark and Aalerud taking the title in Norway.

Tim Wellens out of Tour de France

Stage-hunting supremo Tim Wellens will not line up for the Tour de France this summer.

Team Lotto-Soudal team confirmed Thursday that Wellens has been struggling with health issues for several weeks and has been unable to hit the intensity he needs in training.

“At the moment, my body isn’t reacting to the training stimulus the way I want it to,” Wellens said.

“I can’t push the amount of watts I need to do well at the Tour de France. I don’t yet know what’s the reason behind this. Something isn’t right and needs to be solved. I am traveling to Belgium now to undergo additional examinations.

“Together with the team, I decided not to take any risks for the rest of the season. To start at the Tour could jeopardize a lot.”

Wellens would have been a shoo-in for his fourth Tour start this summer. However, with the team still attempting to diagnose his condition, the decision was made to give the Belgian rest in the hopes he will be back in action later this summer.

“Blood analysis has shown that there are no anomalies. Tim has also tested negative for COVID,” said team doctor Steven Bex. “Tim will be undergoing several additional examinations. We hope to have more clarity soon.”