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VN news ticker: Trek-Segafredo pulls men’s squad from Scheldeprijs; Nacer Bouhanni hits back at racist insults

Here's what's making headlines on Monday, April 5.

The Trek-Segafredo men’s squad has voluntarily removed itself from the start list for Wednesday’s Scheldeprijs due to potential rider exposure to the coronavirus.

“Due to the positive coronavirus cases detected last week, we have decided to withdraw our men’s team from racing Scheldeprijs as a precautionary measure,” the team said in an official statement. “The team will isolate at home for a week for extra safety, before returning to competition at Brabantse Pijl.”

Just a week ago, the team missed Gent-Wevelgem for similar reasons but was cleared to race the mid-week Dwars Door Vlaanderen, won by Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers). Jasper Stuyven was the top finisher for Trek-Segafredo in 10th place with the chase group, some 26 seconds back of van Baarle.

With Paris-Roubaix being rescheduled for early October, the withdrawal of Trek from this spring race is one less event to offer riders the opportunity to race classics and semi-classics, as well as tune for later-season races still on the calendar.

Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) won the 2020 edition of the race.

Nacer Bouhanni hits back at racist insults

Former French road race champion Nacer Bouhanni has hit back at a flurry of racist insults following his penalization for a shoulder charge on British rider Jake Stewart, AFP reported.

The 30-year-old sprinter took to Instagram to deliver his message after a period of media pressure following the March 28 incident at the Cholet-Pays de Loire race where Stewart broke his hand.

“Hello to all the little jokers who have been having fun for a week writing to me personally or commenting on some cycling sites that I should go back to Africa, that I am a criminal, that I am a Maghrebian who needs to be interned and who constantly send me (pig’s heads)!”, he said on his Instagram account.

“Know that I was born in France and that I will file a complaint because I’ve been putting up with this too long and held my silence. This time, I will not let go,” said Bouhanni.

The exasperated rider backed up his claims with a series of screenshots showing examples of the abuse he has received.

Also read: UCI moves to sanction Nacer Bouhanni

Bouhanni rides for Arkea-Samsic and has 69 victories, including three Giro d’Italia stages and three in the Vuelta a Espana, but his career has been marked by altercations.

At the 2017 Tour de France, Bouhanni was fined for hitting New Zealander Jack Bauer, and later that season he had to be pulled off compatriot Rudy Barbieri who had just won Paris-Bourges.

Arkéa-Samsic officials Monday also released a statement condemning the negative comments.

Brandon McNulty blazes to second in Itzulia time trial

Brandon McNulty continues to impress in the WorldTour. The 23-year-old, who celebrated his birthday late last week, ripped to second in Monday’s first stage at Itzulia Basque Country.

The UAE-Emirates second-year pro was only bettered by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in the 13.9km race against the clock in Bilbao to open the weeklong stage race in Spain’s hilly Basque region. Roglič was two seconds faster, while teammate Tadej Pogačar stopped the clock for fifth at 28 seconds slower.

“It was pretty much a case of going full gas on the first climb, recovering a bit on the descent, and then just giving it all on the last kick,” McNulty said. “I’m really happy with this result. Obviously, I got close to the win which would have been amazing, but I gave it my all so no regrets. We’re in a really good situation now with me and Tadej high up on GC and looking forward to the days ahead.”

McNulty crashed out of Paris-Nice while riding in the top five, and finished 13th overall at the Volta a Catalunya last month. McNulty is preparing for a return to the Giro d’Italia, where he hopes to improve on his 15th overall in his grand tour debut in 2020.