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VN news ticker: Wrong wheel swap delays Remco Evenepoel at Benelux Tour, Deceuninck-Quick-Step signs Jason Osborne as stagiaire

Here's the news making the headlines on Monday, August 30.

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Wrong wheel swap delays Evenepoel at Tour of Benelux

An errant wheel swap delayed Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) at the 2021 Tour of Benelux, causing him to lose time against rivals, including Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix).

Merlier won the opening stage of the race in Dokkum, Netherlands. Merlier has won stages at the Giro d’Italia, and the Tour de France earlier this season.

“It was a nervy stage due to all the wind and you had to be constantly aware to be in the right place at the right time,” Merlier said.

Evenepoel was in a leading group on the stage when a touch of wheels brought him down at 28km from the finish. Broken spokes in his front wheel prevented him from immediately remounting and racing on.

A neutral support mechanic provided the young Belgian with a rear wheel in place of the needed front wheel, and then struggled to remove the incorrect wheel.

Ultimately, Evenepoel finished 57 seconds back of Merlier. After the completion of the stage, he was confronted by Alpecin-Fenix rider Gianni Vermeersch who accused him of being responsible for the crash.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step signs Jason Osborne as stagiaire for remainder of 2021

Jason Osborne will races as a stagiaire with Deceuninck-Quick-Step for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Jason Osborne will race as a stagiaire with Deceuninck-Quick-Step for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step has signed 2020 UCI cycling esports world champion Jason Osborne as a stagiaire for the remainder of the 2021 season.

Osborne, recently a silver medalist in the lightweight men’s double sculls at the Tokyo Olympics, has included cycling as cross-training for his rowing training since 2012.

“For me, it means a lot to be a stagiaire here. I always wanted to make the transition to cycling, but with rowing being there it wasn’t possible to commit 100 percent to this. Now, with the Olympics being over and it having been successful for me, I can focus on this,” Osborne said. “To start with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, the most successful team in the world, is the best opportunity I could get.”

Deceuninck-Quick-Step has already started to work with Osborne — including performing physiological testing — and the team has committed to transitioning the 2018 world champion rower into a professional cyclist.

“We have seen Jason’s physical attributes in his win at the esports worlds, and this was confirmed in the testing that we have done with him. We are curious how that will translate into racing,” said Deceuninck-Quick-Step head coach Koen Pelgrim. “Moving into the pro peloton will be a process for him as he learns about the intricacies of the sport, as it would be for any young rider, and we will look to use our experience to help him with the transition.”

The 27-year-old German rower already had a relationship with Deceuninck-Quick-Step equipment partner Specialized Bicycle Components. The American-based bike manufacturer recently supplied Osborne with an S-Works Tarmac commemorating his “Zwift wolds” win.

Elisa Longo-Borghini solos to 2021 GP de Plouay Lorient-Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit win

Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo Women) soloed to the 2021 2021 GP de Plouay Lorient-Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit victory. Gladys Verhulst (Team Akréa) and Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-SVB) rounded out the podium in second and third, respectively.

American Olympian Coryn River (Team DSM) finished in the same group as her compatriot, racing across the line in eighth place.

The peloton was sent around a 13.6km circuit 11 times, covering the Bosse du Lezot (1.4 km at 3.9 percent), the Bosse de Tour el Een (500 meters at 4.6 percent), and also the Bosse du Pont-Neuf (1.5 km at 4.2 percent) on each lap.

At nearly the halfway mark of the 150km race, two riders escaped and gained a three-minute advantage. A chase group that included Ruth Winder (Trek-Segafredo Women) formed some 10km later to bring back the two off the front.

With three laps remaining, Alena Amialiusik (Canyon-SRAM) went solo, dropping her break-mate Jade Wiel (FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope). This solo attempt was doomed when Amialiusik was caught 21km out by Borghini and Mavi García (Alé BTC Ljubljana), who attacked from the front of the chasing group, bringing several others along for the ride.

In the final lap, with just 10km remaining, Longo-Borghini attacked and got clear for a solo run-in to the line.

Behind the fast Italian, Verhulst and Faulker were the best of the rest in the field sprint.

2021 GP de Plouay Lorient-Agglomération Trophée Ceratizit Results

  1. Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), 4:06
  2. Gladys Verhulst (Team Akréa), at :12
  3. Kristen Faulkner (Team Tibco-SVB), at s.t.

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak wins Simac Ladies Tour as Marianne Vos completes stage hat-trick

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) took her first GC victory in five years after securing the Simac Ladies Tour title. The Dutch woman was last on the top step of a stage race classification at the same race back in 2016.

Van den Broek-Blaak took control of the overall standings after going on the attack on stage 4 and defended her position well in a final stage doused by torrential rain. She beat Marlen Reusser (Alé BTC Ljubljana) by 17 seconds with Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) in third at 30 seconds back.

Marianne Vos sprinted to victory on the final stage, taking her third win in the six-day race, after winning the opening time trial and again on stage 4. Vos had the better of Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) and Amy Pieters (SD Worx) to complete a very strong week for the Dutch woman.

“The last stage was very tough. It was a tough lap and there were only four of us to control the race. The rain made it even more difficult,” van den Broek-Blaak said after the stage. “We had to go to the limit, but we succeeded in our mission. This is a cool win. This is a confirmation of my current form, on which I have been working hard over the past few weeks.

“Another important period is coming this autumn with the European championships in Treviso, the world championship in Flanders, and Paris-Roubaix. This overall victory gives a lot of confidence to these matches. Although I also see this victory as a big one.”

Nils Politt wins Deutschland Tour, Alexander Kristoff takes final stage

Nils Politt claimed the overall title at the Deutschland Tour, after his team fought to defend a series of attacks from rival teams to ensure the German rider kept his place at the top of the standings.

Pascal Ackermann took second in the GC at four seconds behind his teammate Politt, securing a one-two overall for Bora-Hansgrohe, as well as winning a stage and the points classification. Ackermann wasn’t able to take another stage victory on the final day of racing after he was outkicked by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) — who finished third overall — in the rain-soaked finale.

The overall win for Politt comes after a strong summer for the 27-year-old, who won a stage of the Tour de France in July.

“As expected, the other teams went all in today. Somehow, we managed to still get the better in the end, but it was really hard work. I have to thank the whole team for their effort,” Politt said. “With two stage wins and one and two in GC, there was nothing more we could have hoped for.

“When Almeida attacked it was a critical situation and I had to ride myself for a while. But in the end, all went well and that’s all that counts.”

Trek-Segafredo signs Elisa Balsamo, Movistar renews stack of women’s squad

Trek-Segafredo has signed Elisa Balsamo on a three-year deal. The Italian classics racer and track rider has enjoyed a standout season with the second-tier Valcar-Travel & Service team this year, hitting the top-10 in seven of this year’s one-day races and winning the GP Oetingen.

Trek-Segafredo is looking to the Italian 23-year-old as a talent for the future.

“Elisa is a young, super-talented rider who has already shown important growth in the last few years,” said sport director Ina-Yoko Teutenburg. “In her, we see great potential and big room for more growth to become a real top competitor in the classics and in the fast finishes. We are pleased we signed a three-year deal with her because it will allow us to work in the medium term to take her potential to the next level.”

Meanwhile, Movistar is continuing to reinforce its roster after signing Sarah Gigante last week.

The Spanish squad has extended the contracts of Lourdes Oyarbide and Alicia González through 2022, while Sheyla Gutiérrez and Barbara Guarischi have been handed deals stretching through 2023.

“For us, these are four crucial riders to have on board, people who help us consolidate and reinforce what we consider the core of this project,” said team manager Sebastián Unzué. “Alicia and Lourdes have been here since this team was created, and they are becoming more important every single year.

“Barbara is one of the most experienced riders in the team, whose importance is also growing every season with her great support to the team leaders and her ability to contest races … Sheyla is a really important piece of this team, right now and for the future. The last two years don’t make justice to her quality and performance. As soon as she leaves her recent injuries and health issues behind, we’ll see her reaching her maximum potential.”

The quartet will ride alongside team leaders Emma Norsgaard and Annemiek van Vleuten in 2022 as the Movistar squad looks to keep the momentum from its standout 2021 season.