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VN news ticker: Trek-Segafredo and Team BikeExchange to race Maryland Cycling Classic, Jolien d’Hoore wins opening stage at Healthy Ageing Tour

Here's what's making headlines on Wednesday, March 10.

Trek-Segafredo, BikeExchange to headline Maryland Cycling Classic

At least two WorldTour teams are headed to the U.S. in September for the inaugural Maryland Cycling Classic.

On Wednesday officials with the race revealed the initial lineup for the September 5 race, and WorldTour squads Trek-Segafredo and Team BikeExchange are on the list, alongside UCI ProTeam Rally Cycling and U.S. Pro Continental teams Aevolo and Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling.

“GreenEDGE Cycling is excited to return to the United States of America for the Maryland Cycling Classic in September. We have achieved many notable victories at races in the U.S. and we will travel to Baltimore with big ambitions,” said Team BikeExchange Chairman, Darach McQuaid in a release. “It’s an important race for our team and we are honored to be there and represent our team’s colors in the best way possible. North America is an important market for our partners and also for the bicycle industry. We truly hope this event will keep growing and Team BikeExchange can contribute to its growth in the years to come.”

Jolien d’Hoore wins opening stage at Healthy Ageing Tour

There’s no stopping the SD Worx train. Hot off winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Strade Bianche, the Dutch powerhouse won the opening stage of the Healthy Ageing Tour with Belgian sprinter Jolien d’Hoore.

In what’s the first European stage race of 2021, following a string of race cancelations and postponements, SD Worx continued to show its early season dominance. D’Hoore, who is set to retire at season’s end, delivered the team’s third victory so far in 2021.

D’Hoore was fastest in the 126km stage starting and finishing in Assen. Alice Barnes (Canyon-SRAM) came across the line second, with Karlijn Swinkels (Jumbo-Visma) rounding out the podium in third. The three-stage race continues Thursday with a 14.4km time trial at Lauwersoog.

Cherie Pridham makes DS debut as Michael Woods and Dan Martin miss start of Tirreno-Adriatico with illness

Tirreno-Adriatico’s first stage Wednesday marked the team debut at Israel Start-Up Nation for sport director Cherie Pridham, who becomes the first female sport director in the WorldTour.

“I want to be judged as a DS. Not a female one. It will be a hard race. Let’s concentrate on that, shall we?” she said. “I was waiting for this moment for six months. The team is ready, I am ready.”

Also, Michael Woods and Dan Martin did not start Wednesday due to illness, team officials confirmed.

“The team had to replace two of its leading GC riders, Dan Martin and Mike Woods, because of some late developing health issues,” a team statement read. “[The team] quickly reset, refocused, and processed.”

Olympic Games likely to prohibit foreign spectators

The Kyodo news agency reported Tuesday that Japanese officials are planning to bar foreign spectators from the rescheduled Olympic Games.

There is no word yet about how many Japanese fans would be permitted to spectate in person, however, a formal announcement is expected within the next several days.

Earlier this year, Japanese citizens were polled by media outlets and voiced overwhelming reluctance to their country hosting the Games, with more than 80 percent of respondents signaling that the Games should be again postponed or canceled altogether.

Japan’s health regulations have been relatively effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19, with just 450,000 confirmed cases and just over 8,000 deaths reported.

Officials released a “playbook” last month for visiting Olympic athletes, including suggested guidelines for how to slow the spread of the coronavirus while visiting Japan for the quadrennial sporting event.

Currently, there are no plans requiring athletes to be vaccinated as a requirement for their participation.

Tadej Pogačar hints at possible Giro d’Italia start in 2022

Tadej Pogačar hinted at possible Giro d’Italia start in 2022 during a media call Tuesday ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico. Hot off his UAE Tour victory in his season debut, Pogačar hopes to use the legs that put him into the pointy end of the action at Strade Bianche all week in Italy.

“This year I’ll do the Tour de France, Olympics and probably the Vuelta, so maybe next year it’ll be finally time for the Giro,” Pogačar said on a video call. “I’m coming here in good shape, I just hope for some solid results and will try for the win. We’ve got a great quality team here, too.”