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VN news ticker: 2021 Redlands Bicycle Classic cancels; Amy Pieters gives Christine Majerus win at Omloop van de Westhoek;

Here's what's making headlines on Monday, March 22.

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2021 Redlands Bicycle Classic canceled

Organizers of the Redlands Bicycle Classic have announced the cancellation of this year’s event.

“The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Beaver Medical Group, Stater Bros. Charities, PossAbilities, and Toyota of Redlands have all remained steadfast partners during these difficult times. It is important for us to recognize their contributions to other causes, often with a greater need than a community event such as ours.” said the Redlands Bicycle Classic executive director Marc Shaw in an open letter Monday.

“The Redlands Bicycle Classic Organizing Committee has decided to focus our efforts on creating an amazing 2022 Redlands Bicycle Classic, with all of the elements people have come to love,” the letter continues. “We look forward to sharing all of this with you over the course of five days, beginning April 20, 2022, as the Redlands Bicycle Classic returns to its long-standing home as one of the premier early season races on the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour calendar.”

Free livestreaming of the 2020 Redlands criterium event had been planned, but due to the pandemic, the entire event was canceled.

Previous winners of the Redlands Bicycle Classic are Joey Rosskopf (2014), Phil Gaimon (2015), Katie Hall (2018), Ruth Winder (2017), and Kristin Armstrong (2016).

Amy Pieters gives Christine Majerus win at Omloop van de Westhoek

Amy Pieters (SD Worx) gave the victory at Sunday’s Omloop van de Westhoek to teammate Christine Majerus when the two rode off the front of a group of an eight-women break.

“I think she is the biggest team player,” said Pieters, the winner of Nokere Koerse last Wednesday. “I’ve been driving for this team for five years now and all that time I could rely on Majerus. If you can give something back, then you should not have any doubts about it. That is why I made the decision to let Christine go and give her the victory.”

Majerus and Pieters tested the legs of others in the breaks to see who could be a threat and when no other women responded, the two SD Worx riders pressed on.

“In the penultimate lap Amy and I wanted to see which of the others was still strong”, Majerus recalled. “When I looked back after the effort, I saw that I had a hole on Amy. But I also saw that Amy had made another gap with the other riders. It therefore seemed more sensible to wait for Amy so that we could drive to the finish together.”

Teammate Jolien D’hoore finished in ninth place, some four-and-a-quarter minutes back.

“These results are certainly good for morale. This race is not a WorldTour, but when you see how strong the team as a unit rides in this Omloop van de Westhoek, it gives a lot of confidence ”, said Majerus.

Paris-Roubaix under COVID threat again

The Paris-Roubaix one-day cycling classic is under threat again this year after the local authority said they were unsure the race could be run safely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I see the sky as less blue,” the prefect of France’s Nord region, Michel Lalande, told local radio on Monday. Lalande expressed reservations about Belgian plans to allow their spring classics to go ahead, with such races as E3 Saxo Bank Classic and Gent-Wevelgem slated for later this week.

“You will have to explain to me the coherence with social distancing rules and everything else,” he said.

Health conditions are uneven across Europe as cases spike in some areas while officials scramble to roll out vaccinations. There is some worry that health officials will put parts of France under stricter lockdown conditions, perhaps resulting in postponing the so-called “Hell of the North” again.

The focus of the cycling season shifts north this week for a series of annual one-day races in Belgium, northern France and the Netherlands. These include three of cycling’s five monuments starting with the Tour of Flanders in Belgium on April 4, Paris-Roubaix on April 11 and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in Belgium on April 25.

Paris-Roubaix, which is also unveiling its highly anticipated women’s edition as well, was not run last year. It was postponed in April because of the pandemic and rescheduled for October when it was called off again.

Philippe Gilbert falls short of monument sweep at Milano-Sanremo

Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) fell short of his attempt at a monument sweep at Milano-Sanremo on Saturday, finishing a distant 72nd at 1:45 behind the winners. A winner of four of five of the so-called monuments, Gilbert has twice finished third at the Italian monument.

“I thought I had good legs, but in the final, I just didn’t have the energy to play a significant role anymore. It certainly wasn’t a lack of motivation, but I just didn’t have the legs,” said Gilbert, whose teammate Caleb Ewan finished second.

“It obviously was not my best San Remo, but it is good to have this day in the legs going toward the next races,” said Gilbert, who races next at E3 Saxo Bank Classic.

Gilbert has one more shot at Milano-Sanremo in 2022 in what will be his final season with Lotto-Soudal.

Gilbert won Lombardia in 2009 and 2010, Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2011, the Tour of Flanders in 2017, and Paris-Roubaix in 2019.