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VN news ticker: Epic Rides requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID test in order to participate, Caleb Ewan sprints to stage 5 win as Remco Evenepoel pulls out of Benelux Tour

Here's the news making headlines for Friday, September 3.

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Epic Rides requiring proof of vaccination or negative COVID test in order to participate

Off-road event organizer Epic Rides has announced a new COVID-19 policy for its upcoming events.

All attendees, including participants, sponsors, crew support, staff, and volunteers, will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result taken within 72-hours prior to arrival at the event. Non-vaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask when maintaining social distance is difficult or not possible. All participants are required to wear a mask when in the start corrals until they commence forward momentum.

Epic Rides has had to cancel over a years worth of events due to the pandemic. Its first event since the February 2020 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is the the Tour of the White Mountains in Arizona on October 2, followed by the Oz Trails Off-Road in Bentonville, Arkansas October 15-17, 2021.

Caleb Ewan sprints to Benelux Tour stage 5 win

Australia sprinter Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) was the fastest on stage 5 of the 2021 Belenlux Tour.

While Bahrain-Victorious had the numbers to lead out Sonny Colbrelli, Ewan was able to come around him to take the win.

Colbrelli rolled through in second and Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) taking third. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) finished off of the podium in fourth and fifth, respectively.

This is Ewan’s first win since crashing out of the 2021 Tour de France on stage 3 when he tangled with Peter Sagan in sight of the finish line.

Remco Evenepoel out of Benelux Tour with stomach problems

Remco Evenepoel’s difficult Benelux Tour has come to a premature end after the Belgian was forced to pull out due to stomach problems. The 21-year-old has been suffering from a stomach complaint since early in the race and struggled to eat ahead of the time trial on stage 2.

He had been able to eat more consistently since then but the issue has arisen again and Deceuninck-Quick-Step decided to pull Evenepoel from the race ahead of stage 5.

“After his condition was improving the past days, Remco Evenepoel had stomach problems again last night, after which it has been decided he won’t start the Benelux Tour today. The team’s doctors will follow up on his evolution the next days,” a team statement on Twitter said. 

Evenepoel is currently scheduled to ride at the European Championships next week.

Mitch Docker breaks elbow at Benelux Tour in final pro season

Mitch Docker’s retirement masterplan could be in danger.

Docker was caught up in a mass crash in the opening minutes of the Benelux Tour on Friday and was later found to have broken his elbow. The 34-year-old Aussie was planning to retire this winter after one final ride at his favorite race, Paris-Roubaix.

“What a blessing in disguise with Paris-Roubaix in October,” Docker wrote when he confirmed his retirement. “The perfect race to conclude my professional career.”

Docker now has four weeks for his elbow to heal or one last shakeout on the stones may no longer be possible. Can he pull off a Matt Hayman-eque comeback from injury to make his dream retirement? As one of the most popular riders in the peloton, many will be hoping so.

Ineos Grenadiers signs 20-year-old British talent Ben Tulett

Ineos Grenadiers has signed Ben Tulett from Alpecin-Fenix. The 20-year-old Brit has twice won the junior cyclocross worlds and has been impressing on the road with ninth overall at the Tour de Pologne last month and 12th at La Flèche Wallonne in spring.

Tulett will join the team’s other multi-discipline British riders Tom Pidcock and Ethan Hayter next season after long revering the Team Sky / Ineos squad.

“It’s been the team I’ve always looked up to,” Tulett said. “I still remember looking at the photos of the team being launched. It was the first time there was a big British team going into the WorldTour and I remember being so excited about it. Then Brad [Wiggins] won the Tour in 2012 and that was just incredible. I remember thinking, ‘I’d love to be on that team one day’. Fast forward nine years and I’ve just signed my first contract here. I couldn’t be happier.”

Tulett stepped directly from the junior ranks when he signed for Alpecin-Fenix in 2020 and instantly impressed with a fifth-place finish in his pro debut at the Tour of Antalya.

“Ben is a young British rider who we’ve been watching for a while. He has made impressive progress over the last year and his approach and attitude is exactly what we look for in an Ineos Grenadier,” said team director Rod Ellingworth. “We think his passion for racing combined with our team environment will help push him on to the next stage of his career.”

Deceuninck-Quick-Step partners water treatment company

Deceuninck-Quick-Step has saddled up with water recycling and revaluation company Ekopak. The Belgian firm will feature on Quick-Step’s jerseys for the next three years as the squad looks to become more sustainable.

“The team has a lot in common with Ekopak, especially our ‘ItStartsWithUs’ campaign, which perfectly matches their sustainability commitments,” said team boss Patrick Lefevere. “We both want to grow internationally and be the leading example; without water, the riders can’t win. It’s an essential product that we constantly use. Quality by using recycling technologies is the future and we are happy to also take the next step in this direction.”

Ekopak works throughout Europe to save millions of liters of water by designing and using technologies to reuse rainwater, surface water, and wastewater.

“Ekopak can provide water at any time to companies for production facilities, as well as drinking water for private purposes, making a perfect partner for the Wolfpack and our #ItStartsWithUs sustainability campaign,” read a Deecuninck-Quick-Step release on the new partnership.