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VN news ticker: Giorgia Bronzini to Liv Racing sport director position, João Almeida wins Tour of Luxembourg opener

Here's the news making headlines for Tuesday, September 14.

Giorgia Bronzini to Liv Racing sport director position

Giorgia Bronzini will join Liv Racing as a sport director beginning in 2022.

The 2010 and 2011 world road champion has been a director sportif with Trek-Segafredo Women since 2019, but when Liv Racing approached her with an opportunity to take on a role with more impact and interaction with riders, she accepted.

“After my career as a professional cyclist, I immediately got into the team’s car. For three years I had the opportunity to work with many world-class riders. I am very grateful to Trek-Segafredo for that. But I notice that it is now time to go for a new challenge.

“I want to play a more important role in training upcoming talents. I want to be closer to the personal trainers of the riders, work more closely with the performance management and thus be of even bigger value to the riders. At Liv Racing there is plenty of room for this within the newly developed coaching structure. The aim is to improve the individual riders and to ride race finals with them,” Bronzini said.

Joining Bronzini as a sports director in 2022 will be Wim Stroetinga, who will also take on a role as a performance manager.

“After I stopped racing professionally last year I started working as a bike mechanic at a retail shop and as a sports director at the development team NXTG. I am proud that a large and well-organized team like Liv Racing came to me at this stage,” commented Stroetinga.

Stroetinga will bring focus to equipment, position and fit, and rider optimization for improved aerodynamics.

“Anyone who knows me from my past as a road and track cyclist knows that I have always been very interested in issues such as materials, seating positions, and aerodynamics. I am happy to use this knowledge and experience to optimize various performance-related issues at Liv Racing. A lot of small improvements together can often make a big difference. I combine the role of performance manager with that of sports director,” Stroetinga said.

João Almeida wins stage 1 of the Tour of Luxembourg

João Almeida won stage 1 of the 2021 Tour de Luxembourg.
João Almeida won stage 1 of the 2021 Tour de Luxembourg. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) won stage 1 of the 2021 Tour de Luxembourg, outkicking ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates) in the sprint for the line. He is the first Portuguese rider to win a stage at this race since Acacio da Silva’s 1990 win.

With time bonuses, the young “Wolfpack” rider who wore the leader’s jersey for nearly two weeks at the 2020 Giro d’Italia leads Mollema and Hirschi by 4 seconds and six seconds, respectively in this five-stop stage race.

A group of six men went up the road, and gained a maximum advantage of about four minutes before Deceuninck-Quick-Step hit the front to reel them in. The catch was made at 3km to go. At the red kite, Almeida slotted into a leadout, where he launched his winning attack at 200m to go.

“It was a very hard stage, and to be truthful, I didn’t feel great, but I had a strong team around me who did an amazing job, chasing the escapees and protecting me throughout the day. I knew that if I had the legs, the uphill finish would suit me. I played it smart there and I’m happy I could pull it off,” Almeida said. “Donning the yellow jersey is a nice bonus, but we won’t think of the GC just yet, and instead continue to take it day-by-day and see how things go

The field also included Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) in fifth, David Gaudu and Thibaut Pinot (both Groupama-FDJ) in seventh and ninth respectively, and others who may be looking to put final touches on their racing form as they prepare for the world championships.

Stage 2 Wednesday is a 184km lumpy route from Steinfort to Eschdorf.

2021 Tour de Luxembourg Stage 1 Results

  1. João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 3:15:59
  2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), at s.t.
  3. Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates), at s.t.

2021 Tour de Luxembourg General Classification

  1. João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), 3:15:59
  2. Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), at :04
  3. Marc Hirschi (UAE-Team Emirates), at :06

No COVID measures for fans at world championships

This year’s road world championships are expected to see thousands of fans and very few facemasks.

Organizers of this year’s worlds, set in the Flanders region of Belgium, confirmed they will be easing COVID precautions and opening the roadsides to spectators for this year’s event, set to start Sunday.

“The starting podium is located at the Groenplaats where all the riders are introduced. The public can experience this up close. Fans are also welcome in the other fanzones and along the course,” stated event boss Tomas van den Spiegel. “A facemask will not be mandatory, since it concerns public space in the open air.”

Specially created VIP zones will require guests to possess a ‘COVID safe ticket.’ The pass will be used to verify if spectators have either been vaccinated or returned a negative PCR or antigen test.

Race officials are expecting tens of thousands of fans to attend the eight days of racing and are prepared to cordon off any areas that become too crowded in order to ensure health and safety. Van den Spiegel appealed to the public to maintain social distancing wherever possible.

“We call on the fans to use their common sense. If you can’t keep enough distance, wear a mouth mask. We absolutely recommend that,” he said.

Van den Spiegel and Co. are also driving to make the event as green and sustainable as possible. Smoking will be forbidden in all official zones, and only reusable drinks cups will be available.

Mark Cavendish named in Isle of Man Commonwealth Games squad

Mark Cavendish is part of the five-rider Isle of Man men’s team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. The multi-sport competition features more than 5,000 athletes from almost 80 countries.

Cavendish is set to line up alongside fellow pros Matt Bostock, Sam Brand, Mark Christian, and Max Walker. Meanwhile, Anna Christian, Lizzie Holden, and Amelia Sharpe have been selected for the women’s squad.

The Commonwealth Games are a rare opportunity for athletes that usually represent Great Britain at world championship and Olympic level to compete for their own individual nations, with the Isle of Man, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all racing under separate flags. Australia, Canada, South Africa, and a host of other nations also compete in the quadrennial event.

Cavendish last raced at the competition in 2010, when it was in Dehli, India, though he was in the team car for the 2014 event in Glasgow. He was due to race in the Gold Coast in 2018 but had to pull out after sustaining a broken rib following a crash at Milan-San Remo.