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VN news ticker: Alexander Kristoff, Sven Erik Bystrøm to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux; Trinity Racing launches career mentorship program

Here's the news making the headlines on Wednesday, August 4.

Alexander Kristoff, Sven Erik Bystrøm to Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux announced Wednesday that Norweigan riders Alexander Kristoff and Sven Erik Bystrøm will move to the Belgian-registered squad for the 2022 season.

Kristoff and Bystrøm are currently on the UAE-Team Emirates squad.

Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux general manager Jean-François Bourlart said the team is excited to bring on the Norweigan riders — both with classics focus mindset — to the squad, and will allow them the freedom to help design their racing calendar.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Alexander Kristoff in our structure! I appreciate his image, his combative spirit to reach the top. Alexander is one of the greatest riders in the world and will be an important asset for the classics. They are of great importance for a Belgian team and it’s exactly this environment what he was looking for,” said Bourlart. “I am very pleased to see how extremely motivated he is to join us and to win races with our support.”

“Sven Erik Bystrøm, [Kirstoff’s] friend, also has a nice palmares. His all-around capability seduced us. He has a good level in the mountains, he’s pretty fast and he can perform at the classics. Among our 270 race days per year, there are at least 200 days which suit him, as a leader or as a helper,” Bourlart continued. “We will offer him responsibility in the races he likes. In our structure, the former U23 World Champion will receive opportunities he didn’t always get in the big teams. I’m convinced that this 29-year-old rider will achieve success in our colors!”

Kristoff’s palmares boasts 79 professional cycling victories including monuments Milano-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, a European championship, and four Tour de France stage wins. Racing as a sprinter on Team BMC and Katusha, Kristoff, 34, will focus on victories in the classics.

“I’ll be part of a team in which the classics are a priority for the first time. It gives me a lot of confidence to know that, just like me, my future teammates have the classics close to their heart,” Kirstoff said. “I want to win back my position among the best riders in the world and to perform at the classics like before. I’ve always felt good in my teams, so I’m looking forward to a nice future with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux!”

Bystrøm, 29, is the 2014 world U23 road race champion, and the 2020 Norweigan national road race champion. He has been with UAE-Team Emirates since 2018, and raced with Kristoff at Katusha 2014-17. Bystrøm will also focus on performing at the classics.

“I’m very motivated to make the jersey of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux shine! The most important factor for my transfer is the opportunity to realize my own ambitions,” Bystrøom said. “I appreciate the cobbled classics and I’m dreaming of winning a Grand Tour stage. This is exactly what the Belgian team desires to achieve with me, so all pieces fit.”

Trinity Racing launches career mentorship program

Trinity Racing launched a career mentorship program to offer career development and advancement resources to professional cyclists outside of sport.

The program, announced Wednesday, aims to pair Trinity racing athletes with a corporate career mentor from the City of London, UK. The goal of the program is to assist riders outside of cycling by providing professional development guidance, sharing “valuable takeaways from professional and athletic careers,” and provide access to London-based corporate networks.

“Our team’s riders receive incredible support for their cycling careers from our team partners and staff, but we know that not all our riders will end up in the professional ranks. I was in this position many years ago so I understand how difficult it can be,” said Andrew McQuaid, founder of Trinity Sports Management. “We feel a deep responsibility to ensure our riders are supported for a variety of future career paths.”

The Trinity Racing career mentorship program aims to offer riders access to atypical corporate professionals — those who are also high-achieving athletes. Initial mentors include attorney Richard Todd, and Ole Henrik Bang-Andreasen, an analyst at Tower House Partners. Both Todd and Bang-Andreasen will also race under the Trinity Racing colors at select events.

“I am excited to work with Trinity Racing, on and off the road, and I believe this project can become something truly unique and special,” said Bang-Andreasen.

“This program is something that even I am looking forward to learning from,” said recently retired pro cyclist and Trinity Racing directeur sportif Ian Stannard. “I am proud that we as a team are already thinking about how we can help our riders in this way. Whether they stop racing next year — or in fifteen years’ time — I am sure they will learn some valuable lessons which will stand to them in the future.”

Trinity Racing has developed professional riders such as Tom Pidcock, Christopher Blevins, and Haley Batten. Pidcock won the Tokyo 2020 Olympic men’s cross-country mountain bike event, while Blevins finished 14th in the same event; Batten finished ninth in the women’s event.

WorldTour events in China, Germany canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

The UCI announced Wednesday that the men’s WorldTour 2021 Tour of Guangxi (October 14-19) and women’s WorldTour 2021 Tour of Chongming Island (October 14-16) have been canceled due to concerns about COVID-19.

Also canceled for 2022 is the Cyclassics of Hamburg (August 21).

The Tour of Chongming Island is now scheduled for May 5-7, 2022, and the Tour of Guangxi for men is on the calendar for October 13-18, 2022. The women’s Tour of Guangxi is slated for October 18, Wielerflits reported.

The 2021 Tour of Pologne (August 9-15) and the 2021 Vuelta a España (August 14-September 5) are currently scheduled without changes.

Jai Hindley and Sergio Higuita sign with Bora-Hansgrohe

After already announcing the return of sprinter Sam Bennett in 2022, Bora-Hansgrohe has confirmed two more signings with GC talents Jai Hindley (Team DSM) and Sergio Higuita (EF Education-Nippo) inking deals with the German squad. Classics rider Marco Haller will also move to the team from next year.

Hindley finished second overall at the Giro d’Italia in 2020, but he has struggled with saddle sores throughout this season and had to abandon the Italian race in May. Higuita rode this year’s Tour de France in service of Rigoberto Urán but was given breakaway opportunities and climbed better than his compatriot in the final week.

“I am very excited to be riding for Bora-Hansgrohe from next season onwards. I’ve been watching the team for a long time and have admired their impressive progression over the past few years,” Hindley said.

“For my next steps as a professional, Bora-Hansgrohe is the right team for me, I’m sure of this. My focus will be on stage races, on one-week races, and grand tours. I can still develop there and that’s what I want to work on with my new team.”

“Bora-Hansgrohe has a great image in the peloton. If you look at the squad, it’s a good mix of top performers and young riders, and the team has proven that it’s able to develop young talent. That’s precisely why I really wanted to join this team,” Higuita said.

“It will also be a challenge as the first Colombian in a German team, but I quickly came to the realization that we essentially have the same spirit. Everything is very familiar, and I quite like that.”

Groupama-FDJ signs Michael Storer and Quentin Pacher

Michael Storer and Quentin Pacher are the first 2022 signings for the Groupama-FDJ team. The 24-year-old Storer joins from Team DSM, where he has been since 2019, while Pacher steps up to WorldTour level for the first time after four years with B&B Hotels p/b KTM.

Storer has shown himself to be a strong climber, and he took the overall title at the recent Tour de l’Ain. Pacher has made a name for himself as a puncheur and regular feature in grand tour breakaways. Both riders will bolster the support team around David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot.

“I chose Groupama FDJ because the structure and the ambitions of the team are exactly what I am looking for at this stage of my career. I am a climber, and I want to keep improving in this role with the team,” Storer said.

“I recently won my first professional race, and personally I hope to also win at the WorldTour level one day. I like to win, but helping others succeed in the biggest races is also very motivating for me. The team has high ambitions and I want to do my best to help achieve them next year.”

“Racing for Groupama-FDJ is a new stage in my career. I came into the professional world through the back door, I took step after step. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to ride in a WorldTour team, to compete in the greatest races in the world,” Pacher said. “I am in my best years and I am happy to be part of a team where everything is optimized to the maximum. The team directors know that I am a regular rider, capable of performing well all year round. The team expects me to play a double role: to support the top leaders and to take my chance when I have the opportunity to play my card. I am very motivated by the Ardennes classics as well as by the grand tours that I discovered last year.”