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VN news ticker: Denise Betsema, Quinten Hermans win Ethias ‘cross; Quick-Step boss details personal sponsors backing Mark Cavendish

Here's the news making headlines for Saturday, February 13.

Denise Betsema, Quinten Hermans win the Eelko Ethias ‘cross

Denise Betsema out-fought Mannon Bakker to take the women’s event after the pair had gone clear early in the Belgian ‘cross. Betsema managed to distance her young rival on the penultimate lap to take the victory by six seconds. World champion Lucinda Brand recovered from a slow start to the race to finish third.

Quinten Hermans snatched the men’s after riding away from the bunch on lap 3 and going solo through the back-half of the race, taking his first win of the season in the process. Toon Aerts and Eli Iserbyt rounded out the podium.

Rally Cycling debuts season in Spain’s Clásica de Almería

Spain’s pre-season calendar might have been gutted by COVID-19, but the one-day Clásica de Almería pedals on Sunday with a pack full of bunch sprinters. Mark Cavendish makes his debut in Deceuninck-Quick-Step jersey, yet the likes Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos) and Fernando Gaviria will be the front-line favorites. The lumpy course features a fistful of rated climbs in the Andalusian hills, before finishing on the flats in the holiday resort town of Roquetas de Mar.

USA’s Rally Cycling makes its European debut, with Joey Rosskopf seeing his first race with the team since his transfer from CCC Team. Sean Bennett also see his first action since joining Qhubeka-Assos. Two-time defending champion Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) is skipping the race, and will debut at UAE Tour next week.

Patrick Lefevere reveals how Mark Cavendish’s personal sponsors opened door to Quick-Step move

Deceuninck-Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere revealed the arrangements that opened the door for Mark Cavendish to return to the Belgian team. It was confirmed last December that the sprint ace would transfer to his former team from Bahrain-McLaren this season, and rumors have since circulated that the 35-year-old had to leverage personal sponsors to finance the deal.

As part of a column for Het Nieuwsblad, Lefevere gave insight into the mechanics of the arrangement.

“I wanted to help Mark, but I ran out of budget,” Lefevere wrote. “He suddenly offered to pay for himself. I couldn’t say no to that. Mark reached an agreement with the Canadian Lovingly Made Ingredients food company. They pay us, then we pay Mark. In addition, if Mark wins races, Specialized Bicycles will pay the bonus.”

Cavendish is set to make his season debut at the Clasica de Almeria on Sunday.

Tour de la Provence keeps Mont Ventoux finish after snow concerns

Snow don’t stop the show at the Tour de la Provence. The scheduled finish of Saturday’s stage to Chalet Reynard, some 15 kilometers up the slopes of the Ventoux, had been put into question after snowfall Friday night. However, race officials scouted the climb this morning to give the race’s third stage the green light.

The 154km third stage is expected to come down to a spectacular summit showdown between Aleksandr Vlasov and Alexey Lutsenko of Astana-Premier Tech and the Ineos Grenadiers duo of Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa.

Former Team Sky doctor charged by UK anti-doping authorities

Ex-British Cycling and Team Sky chief Doctor Richard Freeman has been charged by UK anti-doping authorities for “possession of a prohibited substance” and “tampering or attempted tampering with any part of doping control.” If found guilty by an independent anti-doping panel, Freeman could face a four-year ban from sport.

The findings are part of the long-running “fitness to practice” tribunal over allegations that Freeman ordered banned testosterone in 2011. The doctor has been accused by the General Medical Council of ordering 30 sachets of Testogel to the national velodrome in the knowledge that the banned substance could boost sporting performance.