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VN news ticker: Wout van Aert braces for Tour of Flanders showdown, Dan Martin returns to Giro d’Italia

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, April 1.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

Wout van Aert braces for Tour of Flanders showdown, adds dates

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) is tweaking his calendar following confirmation Thursday that Paris-Roubaix will be moved to October 3.

The Belgian star, who lines up Sunday as one of the favorites at Tour of Flanders, will add Brabantse Pijl (April 14) and Amstel Gold Race (April 18).

Also read: Wout van Aert fastest at Gent-Wevelgem

Van Aert said he is bracing for a showdown with Deceuninck-Quick-Step and other top rivals Sunday at De Ronde.

“With the postponement now of Roubaix, Sunday is the last cobble race of the spring,” van Aert said. “For Flanders, I am one of the favorites, not the top favorite. I did win Gent-Wevelgem, but you cannot compare that race to the Tour of Flanders. Several guys have shown they are at a high level, especially at Deceuninck-Quick-Step.

“If Quick-Step is at the same level they were at E3 Harelbeke, it will not be easy,” van Aert said. “I cannot follow their lead. I have to take my own chance. De Ronde is particularly difficult, which is why it is more realistic that the natural selection will thin out the bunch. I don’t want to let myself get drummed into a corner, and hopefully, I will still have some teammates around me.”

Dan Martin targeting ‘unfinished’ business at Giro d’Italia

Dan Martin will lead Israel Start-Up Nation at the Giro d’Italia.

As Chris Froome continues his buildup toward the Tour de France, the Irish climber, who was fourth overall at the 2020 Vuelta a España, returns to the Giro for some “unfinished business.”

“It feels like unfinished business there,” Martin said. “I arrived at the start in Belfast in excellent form and crashed out halfway through the TTT in stage 1. It was tough for me to watch the race that year, but I have always been a huge fan of the [Giro]. After completing it in 2010, it has just never fit with my goals or the team’s ambitions since then for me to be at the Ardennes classics and the Tour.”

Martin has not raced the Giro since crashing in the opening stage team time trial in the 2014 edition starting in Belfast. Since then, the Tour or Vuelta took precedence.

“This year’s Giro d’Italia should, on paper, suit Dan and his style of racing quite well, and it will be very interesting to see how things go as there are certainly many contenders,” said team manager Kjell Carlstrom, who confirmed Martin also will race the Tour.

“Dan will be surrounded by a squad that can support him both on flat and hilly terrain,” he said. “We believe he can perform well in both grand tours.”

Kate Courtney joins Team Mips

Team Mips announced recently it has signed Team USA Olympian Kate Courtney and Scott-SRAM team to its lineup.

Courtney won the overall UCI mountain bike world cup in 2019, and was world cross-country champion in 2018, sustained several concussions during her career, including one in 2016 which lead to her involvement with research into preventing brain injuries.

“Brain injury is a very personal subject to me,” Courtney says. “I’ve had multiple concussions in the past and have experienced first hand how challenging these invisible injuries can be to diagnose and treat. Many people aren’t aware of how concussions happen and how dangerous they can be if not taken seriously.”

Courtney — and the Scott-SRAM team of Lars Forster, Andri Frischknecht, and Nino Schurter — join Swedish freeskier Henrik Harlaut, and Canadian cyclists Brandon Semunuk on Team Mips which proclaims itself as, “a global force of helmet safety advocacy led by athletes from around the world, spanning a diverse range of backgrounds and professional sports including cycling, skiing, motorcycle/motocross and more,” in its mission to raise head protection awareness, and advocate for the use of safer helmets.

“Mips is leading the charge in scientific research that will help us better understand head injuries and make a real difference in how we talk about and approach brain protection for athletes in action sports,” added Courtney. “By joining forces with Team Mips, I hope to help close that educational gap a bit and at the same time inspire more people to get out there and share my passion for riding.”

Courtney and Scott-SRAM mountain bike team join Team Mips. Photo: Michael Cerveny/Team Mips

Beti Bike Bash 2021

The Beti Bike Bash presented by Yeti Cycles is on the calendar for October 3, 2021.

The nation’s largest women’s-only mountain bike race, hosted in Lakewood, CO, is now accepting entries. An optional fundraising-focused registration tier has been added for 2021.

Event categories will include 7-and-under, new moms, “never-evers,” as well as pro categories.

“After a challenging 2020, we are looking forward to gathering this year to celebrate the Beti Bike Bash. This race is a cornerstone in the women’s mountain biking community and we are thrilled to participate in October! Running our clinic Saturday to help women get race ready and spending Sunday cheering everyone on makes for a celebratory and fun weekend,” said director of operations at VIDA MTB series Rachel Gottfried.

Beti Bike Bash will benefit the Little Bellas and Go4Graham. The Little Bellas is a mountain bike organization geared to help young women reach their fullest potential, while Go4Graham is a community-based movement to “promote mental wellness through physical activity and connection.”

First-time and beginner riders can attend the VIDA MTB Series race-specific clinic on Saturday, October 3rd to develop skills, as well as learn proper body positioning, race etiquette, and technique in an ever-encouraging atmosphere.

The 2021 Beti Bike Bash is set for October 3, in Lakewood, CO. Photo: Beti Bike Bash