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VN news ticker: Alejandro Valverde to race 2022 season with Movistar, Ayesha McGowan to make European debut

Here's what's making headlines on Tuesday, September 7.

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Alejandro Valverde to race 2022 season with Movistar

Alejandro Valverde confirmed he will continue racing in the 2022 season with Movistar Team.

The Spaniard, who will be 42 years of age next year, left the door open to continue racing for the Spanish outfit after he recovers from a fractured clavicle sustained on stage 7 of the 2021 Vuelta a España.

Having previously indicated that should COVID make the 2021 season “bland,” he’d consider extending his pro cycling career for another year, Eurosport reported.

While Valverde’s continuing the current season following the crash some three weeks ago was never confirmed, he has indicated he’d like to continue racing the 2021 season. Valverde has three times finished in second place at Italian monument.

“Recovery is going well [but] the ribs still bother me,” Valverde said. “In principle, I return to Sicily, I’m thinking about Il Lombardia.”

Ayesha McGowan to make European debut in France

American rider Ayesha McGowan will make her European racing debut in France with Liv Racing this week.

She will line up for the race, running Wednesday through September 14, at the Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l’Ardeche. Also starting are Pauliena Rooijakkers, Jeanne Korevaar, Sabrina Stultiens, and Evy Kuijpers.

“I have waited so long for this opportunity, so it is very special for me. The hard work is now paying off. There will be some tears of joy,” said McGowan in a team note. “I’ve been really switching my mindset from being afraid of long climbs to being excited about them. I’m really looking forward to seeing how that newfound confidence plays out on the courses at Ardèche. Hopefully, fitness and courage will reinforce each other.”

Also read: McGowan joins Liv Racing

McGowan, 34, is a strong advocate for inclusivity in cycling, and in 2020 she won the League of American Bicyclists’ inaugural Kitty Knox award, which recognizes a champion of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She is the first Black American woman to race at the top of the sport, and she’s excited about this new opportunity after joining Liv Racing this season.

“I’m looking forward to supporting the team, surprising myself, and if I’m so lucky, being able to appreciate the beautiful atmosphere in the Ardèche,” she said. “Everything else is a bonus. Anyone who knows me knows that I am never afraid to dream big. I will always go for it.”

Alexey Lutsenko extends with Astana through 2024

Alexey Lutsenko won the stage 4 TT at the 2021 Criterium du Dauphine.
Alexey Lutsenko won the stage 4 TT at the 2021 Criterium du Dauphine. Photo: DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Alexey Lutsenko will continue with the squad which welcomed him as a neo-pro in 2013, reports Wielerflits.

The all-around rider finished second overall at the 2021 Critérium du Dauphiné.

“I am very happy that I can stay. In recent years I have become a leader and that is a great responsibility and incentive to get better. I keep striving for new goals and every time I want to confirm my leadership with new victories,” said Lutsenko.

“This year I made a big step in riding classifications, in week-long stage races such as the Critérium du Dauphiné and in the grand tours. My seventh place in the Tour de France motivates me to continue in that way,” he added. “I’m not only going for the top 10, but also for the podium.”

Team sport director Alexander Vinokourov said of Lutsenko that the 29-year-old who is from Kazakhstan is a valuable team leader.

“Alexey is a true leader. Not only does he win, but he can drive and lead the team in the biggest games. For the first time in sixteen years, a Kazakh was in the top ten in the Tour. Now his heyday as a pro is dawning and I’m glad we’re moving forward together,” said Vinokourov. “Our team needs a leader like Alexey.”

Vinokourov will continue with Team Astana — which at this time does not have a co-sponsor — in 2022.

Remco Evenepoel vows to race for Wout van Aert at worlds

It came down to the wire, but Remco Evenepoel earned his spot on Belgium’s deep elite men’s world championships team that saw some big names left off.

Evenepoel, who pulled out of the Benelux Tour over the weekend, said he is fully committed to team tactics of supporting Wout van Aert in the road race, but left the door open for unforeseen circumstances.

“I am 100 percent behind the tactics, and I am going to throw myself into it,” Evenepoel told Het Nieuwsblad. “It’s obvious that Wout will lead, and everything will be a function of that. But you never know what will happen, for example, if he’s not feeling well or crashes. So many things can happen.”

Also read: Belgian names van Aert, Kopecky to lead worlds

“But if things go well, everyone will ride flat out for Wout. That’s how we’re going into it, but certain things can change during the race,” Evenepoel said. “But if we enter the final laps in Leuven with Wout still in there, it’s simple. The most important thing to do is that everyone know what to do when Wout is there, and also if he is not there. Everyone knows we have the goal, to become world champion with Wout. But we are also professional enough to have a Plan B, and if need be, a Plan C.”