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Fabio Aru is sticking to retirement plans despite strong Vuelta showing
The Italian won stages in all three grand tours, and won the 2015 Vuelta. A string of health issues became overwhelming for the 31-year-old Italian, and he called quits on his career Sunday.
“The last the years had been very difficult for me,” he said. “This year we opted to change my program, skip the Tour, and go to Lugano and then Sibiu. It was there I found a good feeling on the bike again. I could start attacking again and riding with that freedom you feel when you can actually race the race. It was a feeling I missed so much.”
Throughout the Vuelta, Aru showed hints of his former brilliance, and rode into a few key breakaways. He raced 14 grand tours, including two podiums in the Giro d’Italia, fifth and a stage win and a spell in yellow at the Tour de France. His victory in the 2015 Vuelta was his biggest and many thought he could be a Tour contender.
“For every rider there comes a time in their career when they know it is their time to stop,” Aru said. “This time is different for each rider, for me it is a feeling, and I have this feeling now. For 16 years I have been a bike rider, this career has required that I spend a lot of time away from my family. Now it is my time to give back to them. Now I just want to enjoy this final experience and do my best.”
Anna Van der Breggen will skip European championships
Anna van der Breggen will not start at the European Championships in Trevisio next weekend, team officials confirmed Monday. During the four-day Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta, officials said Van der Breggen noticed that she did not reach her level for reasons that are unclear.
“I just didn’t have the power in Spain to follow when it was a hard race. After the Olympics I started training again and in the GP de Plouay, I was able to achieve a decent level,” she said Monday. “Mentally, I’m still looking forward to the last races later this year. I did my best in Spain to make the best out of it, but physically I was not at my normal level at all. With my current level, I have nothing to do at the European championships.
“I have no idea why I’m not at my level right now. We will be conducting several investigations in the coming days. Based on that, I determine my further program this year,” she said, leaving the door open for the world championships and Paris-Roubaix.
Mathieu van der Poel extends with Alpecin-Fenix, waits on form
Mathieu van der Poel won’t be going anywhere, not for another four years at least, after he extended his contract with the Alpecin-Fenix team. The new deal will see the Dutch rider remain with the team until at least 2025.
Van der Poel has been with the team through its various guises since 2014, competing across the road, cyclo-cross, and mountain bike disciplines. Despite a growing emphasis on his road program, van der Poel hopes to keep a mixed racing calendar until he gets a second shot at mountain bike gold at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“I’m very happy to have signed this long-term contract with a team that feels like my second family. I’m really enjoying myself at Alpecin-Fenix. The team has developed fantastically in the last years – simultaneously with the progress I’ve been making – and are still getting better and stronger each year,” van der Poel said.
“It’s quite unique that I’ve been riding for the same team for so long and that I’ll continue to do so for another four years. Who knows I will have raced for only one team in my entire career? I try not to think too far ahead but becoming world champion in three different disciplines in the coming years would be a dream come true. I’ll most likely continue to combine road cycling, cyclo-cross, and mountain bike until Paris 2024.”
The team also announced the arrival of Michael Gogl on a two-year deal. The Austrian is currently in Qhubeka-NextHash, and formerly rode for Tinkoff and Trek.
Julie Leth signs with Uno-X
Julie Leth is the latest signing for the nascent Uno-X women’s team, making it 10 riders now confirmed for the Norwegian squad. The Danish rider is a veteran of the peloton, racing in the pro peloton since 2012.
Leth took a silver medal on the track at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the Madison with Amalie Dideriksen. She currently races with the Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling team and will be the designated road captain when she joins Uno-X next season.
“I honestly was not sure what I was going to do after this season, but when I got the opportunity to be part of Uno-X I couldn’t say no,” Leth said. “It’s a hugely exciting project for women’s cycling, and I’m super proud and thrilled to be on board from the beginning. I love how the men’s team have been racing, and hope we can create a similar racing environment in the women’s team.”