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VN news ticker: Peter Sagan to debut at Tirreno-Adriatico, UCI clarifies its ‘war on hugs’ policy

Here's the news making headlines for Monday, March 8.

Peter Sagan makes season debut at Tirreno-Adriatico

Peter Sagan is slated to return to racing this week at Tirreno-Adriatico.

The three-time world champion was waylaid with COVID-19 during a training camp in Spain in January, and was unable to race Strade Bianche last week. Along with other race cancelations, the Italian stage race will mark Sagan’s 2021 season debut.

Sagan, 31, last raced at the 2020 Giro d’Italia, where he won a stage and finished second in the points category in what was his career debut in the Italian grand tour. That meant he skipped the rescheduled northern classics, which coincided with the Giro in the revamped calendar las fall.

Sagan is scheduled to race a full spring classics calendar ahead of a return to the Giro and Tour de France later this season.

UCI clarifies its ‘war on hugs’ policy

The UCI created a stir last week when it banned finish-line celebratory hugs. Some wondered if the UCI’s “ban on hugs” might be an overreach, but the cycling governing body issued a statement Monday reiterating its reasoning behind the decree.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would like to clarify its position concerning celebratory hugs between riders and team members after the finish line,” a statement read. “Although from a medical point of view the risk of contamination between members of a team bubble remains low, the UCI nevertheless considers it necessary that riders adopt the basic precautionary measures, including respecting a minimum physical distance. Demonstrations of joy and congratulation are spontaneous and natural, and are part of the beauty of our sport. It is therefore no pleasure for the UCI to strongly recommend all concerned to refrain from hugging at the finish. However, due to the current pandemic it is essential to temporarily modify certain habits so that we can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

“The UCI has updated protocol with this new measure, which is added to others that have already been introduced, such as those concerning podium ceremonies and sign-ins. The UCI has informed the representatives of riders and teams, and will continue to ensure that the peloton is made aware of this change which is common sense and in line with our desire to ensure our sport is exemplary in these difficult times.”

George Bennett shatters helmet

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) shattered his helmet in a crash on stage 2 of the 2021 Paris-Nice.

The New Zealander took a tumble inside of the final 40km of the eight-day stage race. While he was immediately back on his feet, he could be seen holding his helmet which appeared to have shattered — as intended — on impact.

Parking-bollards lined the narrow road through one of the many small towns on the day’s route. This caused the entire group to try to squeeze into the center of the road.

Although Bennett was successful in avoiding a more serious collision, he did appear to be momentarily stunned. While waiting for a bike change and a new helmet, Bennet was briefly evaluated by a member of the race’s medical staff, but was not subjected to the UCI’s recently instituted concussion protocol.

He was able to ride back into the main group, to continue assisting the team in service of captain Primož Roglič.

Bennett recently made headlines when his road national champion’s jersey design was rejected by Cycling New Zealand for appearing too similar to the design of the official national team kit.

Richie Porte cleared to return home

Riche Porte crashed out of the 2021 Paris-Nice
Riche Porte crashed out of the 2021 Paris-Nice. Photo: Courtesy Ineos Grenadiers

Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) was involved in a low-speed crash in stage 1 of the 2021 Paris-Nice when it appeared that he struck a loose water bottle.

While the 36-year-old tried to get back on his bike, after just a few kilometers of pedaling he was forced to abandon.

Porte was examined at a local hospital where he underwent evaluation. After it was determined that he suffered no fractures, he was cleared to return home.

Porte has previously won four stages of Paris-Nice and won the overall in 2013 and 2015.

Stage 1 of the 2021 Paris Nice was won by Irishman Sam Bennet (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in a sprint finish.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) gets all-clear to begin ramping up training

Remco Evenepoel announced via his Instagram account that he’s been cleared to begin ramping up his training in preparation for the 2021 season.

Evenepoel crashed at last year’s Il Lombardia, and fractured his pelves when he lost control of his bike on a descent, went over a road-side barrier at a bridge, and fell nearly 7 meters to the ravine below.

The Belgian had suffered setbacks in his return to racing earlier in the year but has since recovered, and is now cleared to return to a full training load.

The 20-year-old had been on several training camps with Deceuninck-Quick-Step, however he was on his own recovery program which saw him riding fewer miles, with less climbing and less time in the saddle compared with the rest of the team.

Healthy Aging Tour live broadcast

The 2021 Healthy Aging Tour (March 10-12) will be broadcast live on EuroSport and GCN+ thanks to the efforts of a crowdfunding campaign, and one anonymous benefactor.

Available via web browser or app, the live feed will come through with a one-hour delay following the daily live broadcast of the Tirreno Adriatico.

The annual stage race in the Netherlands saw its first edition in 2011, however due to the pandemic, the event was not contested in 2020.

In 2019, the overall was won by Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), with Ellen Van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo), and Kirsten Wild (WNT–Rotor Pro Cycling) rounding out the podium.