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VN news ticker: Julian Alaphilippe makes 2021 cobbles debut at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Critérium du Dauphiné brings back time trial

Here's the news making headlines on Monday, February 22.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step opens classics campaign at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne weekend

The Deceuninck-Quick-Step “Wolfpack” will kick off the classics campaign at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this coming Saturday, with world champion Julian Alaphilippe making his 2021 cobbles debut.

With 13 hills — including the Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg — the 201-kilometer race has only once been won by a Czech rider, Zdeněk Štybar, in 2019. Štybar will return to the start this year also with Kasper Asgreen, Davide Ballerini, Tim Declercq, Florian Sénéchal, and the previous runner-up, Yves Lampaert.

Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne will be open for the sprinters if they can make it through the punchy first half of the route parcours. In the last edition, Deceuninck’s Asgreen attacked just outside of 30km to go, and was able to hold chasers for a solo victory.

Antonio Tiberi suffers spectacular finish-line crash in UAE Tour time trial

Trek-Segafredo’s Antonio Tiberi suffered a spectacular finish-line crash in Monday’s time trial stage at the UAE Tour.

It wasn’t exactly clear what happened, but Tiberi crashed just meters short of the finish line. He was hitting top speed at above 50kph, and slammed hard on his shoulder, and slid across the finish line. Team officials later confirmed that he was transported to a local hospital where he received stitches to a deep wound on his right knee and was evaluated for other injuries.

Despite the crash, the 19-year-old WorldTour rookie was Trek-Segafredo’s fastest finisher when he, and his bike, stopped the clock in a time of 14 minutes, 45 seconds. He still managed to finish 19th on the stage. It is not yet confirmed if he will be able to continue in the race for Tuesday’s third stage.

Women’s Itzulia Basque Country canceled, replaced by Clásica San Sebastián

2021 was supposed to be the debut of the Itzulia Basque Country race for the women’s peloton, however, it will be replaced by the Clásica San Sebastián.

The host of the Itzulia Basque Country remains hopeful to be able to resume the race in 2022, without a conflict on the calendar with the women’s Tour de France.

“We know that it will not be easy, but the Basque Country and women’s cycling deserve such a race and we will continue working until we achieve it,” says Julián Eraso.

The women’s Clásica San Sebastián was last held in 2019 on the same day as the men’s race. For 2021 the race will also share the same date and some of the same route as the men’s event, and organizers are prepared to be flexible to accommodate changes.

“We can anticipate that they will share part of the [route], although there may be changes compared to the last edition,” says the president of host organization OCETA, Julián Eraso.” We hope to be able to carry out the two [races] and that the cycling festival returns to Donostia and Gipuzkoa as it did in 2019, although it will be with all sanitary measures.”

Patrick Van Gansen suspended for 3 years

Belgian cycling coach Patrick Van Gansen has been banned for three years after an investigation into serial complaints of abuse, inappropriate behavior, and bullying.

The UCI issued a mandate for Van Gansen to attend sexual harassment awareness courses if he wishes to return to the cycling community.

Van Gansen had previously been on staff at women’s WorldTour team Health Mate. He denied any harassing behavior, however more than 10 complaints were filed against him by female riders over the course of several years.

2021 Critérium du Dauphiné back to full length

The Critérium du Dauphiné is on the calendar for May 30-June 6 and is bringing back the individual time trial for this year’s edition. The race against the clock on stage 4 is set over a 16.4-kilometer route and immediately precedes three challenging mountain stages. The final day will include six climbs, as riders make their way from La Léchères-les-Bains (Savoie) to Les Gets (Haute-Savoie).

“Everything is ready for a real nice big fight to win and prepare for the Tour de France. Not to mention the plateau with the presence of [Tadej] Pogačar and Alaphilippe in the poster, it does not hurt,” said ASO’s Christian Prudhomme.

2020 Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), and current world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) are both on the start list for the 73rd edition of the one-week stage race considered to be a good predictor of performance at the Tour de France (June 26 – July 18). Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos-Grenadiers), Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), Miguel Ángel López (Movistar), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) are also on the list of riders to take the start.

Eschewing the race against the clock last year, the slimmed-down race had just five stages and was ultimately won by Dani Martínez of EF Pro Cycling, just days after the restart of racing after a months-long COVID-19 racing halt.