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VN news ticker: USA Cycling 2021 ’cross nationals, former Team Sky doctor Freeman stripped of license, Wout van Aert poised for Milano-Sanremo repeat

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, March 18.

USA Cycling 2021 ’cross nationals announced

USA Cycling announced Cantigny Park will host the 2021 Cyclocross National Championships for December 7-12.

Located in DuPage County, IL, the venue is a no-longer-used military tank park.

“We’re eager to bring riders to Cantigny Park in DuPage County after the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic. We’ll see a fast course with built features and off-camber sections highlighting Butterfly Hill,” said Tara McCarthy, USAC director of national events.

Championship races are planned for riders 11 through 90 years of age, as well as divisions for, collegiate, U23, and elite racers. A singlespeed race is also planned, as well as non-championship events.

USAC has cautioned that dates and locations for 2021 national championships are fluid, dependant on the status of the pandemic.

Richard Freeman stripped of medical license

Richard Freeman, the former chief medical officer at Team Sky and also GB Cycling was stripped of his license to practice medicine on Thursday.

A tribunal determined that Freeman’s “fitness to practice medicine is impaired,” and was last week found guilty of ordering testosterone to British Cycling headquarters while “knowing or believing” it was to be given to an unnamed rider for doping purposes.

“The tribunal bore in mind that Dr. Freeman’s misconduct involved a number of significant elements, including serious dishonesty, as well as behavior which could have placed patients at unwarranted risk of harm,” said the tribunal in a formal statement. “The tribunal has therefore determined that Dr Freeman’s fitness to practice is impaired by reason of his misconduct.”

The tribunal will take on a review to determine if any penalties or additional sanctions would be levied on Freeman.

The AFP reports that the British General Medical Council has argued the doctor should be permanently struck off the licensing register.

Wout van Aert poised for Milano-Sanremo repeat

No one’s won back-to-back editions of Milano-Sanremo since Erik Zabel in 2000-01.

Wout van Aert, who won two stages and finished second overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, is up for it. The Jumbo-Visma star starts Saturday as a five-star favorite alongside Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

“The TT at Tirreno-Adriatico is also proof that I am recovering well. There have been a few heavy stages and I have given everything everywhere, so if you’re still capable of such a time trial, that says something about the condition,” van Aert said. “That certainly gives confidence for San Remo.”

Van Aert expects a big challenge from van der Poel, who also won two stages at Tirreno as well as Strade Bianche. Will van der Poel try one of his trademark, long-distance attacks? Van Aert’s not convinced.

“I think San Remo is a more special race. It’s much longer, which makes it much less obvious to break away, for example, 50km before the finish. I don’t have the intention to do that on my own,” van Aert said. “But we also saw in Strade Bianche that he can wait until the final. If I am good enough, then I have to be able to follow and then I always have my chance. Of course, he’s the one that everyone is watching.”

Compatriot Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) is an outsider for victory, and could join the “monument’s club” if he wins Saturday. Van Aert said he’d love to see it, yet only if he’s not capable of winning himself.

“I hope so, I have a lot of respect for the rider and the person Gilbert,” van Aert. “He’s always friendly and respectful, so I would like him to put the fifth monument on his record. On the other hand, based on the last years, he is not the favorite. Everything has to work out for him, even more so than in the previous editions. I would certainly like him to win, but of course, I am not going to give it as a present to him. I obviously want to win it myself.”

Julian Alaphilippe leads all-star DQS cast

Former winner Julian Alaphilippe leads an all-star lineup for Deceuninck-Quick-Step in Saturday’s “La Primavera.”

A winner in 2019 and a runner-up last year, the world champion will be backed by a strong team that also includes Davide Ballerini and Sam Bennett. If Alaphilippe is neutralized over the Poggio, the two fast finishers give the Belgian team a card for every scenario.

“I love Milano-Sanremo. It’s such a great race and I’m happy to be heading there again,” Alaphilippe said. “Doing it in the rainbow jersey this year makes it even more special and exciting. My season so far was good, the condition has been improving since my first race of the year and also the confidence is there. We have a strong and very motivated team and we hope to be there when it will matter.”

Danish champion Kasper Asgreen, Tim Declercq, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar round out the squad for the first monument of the season.

“In the past couple of years, we have always featured in the finale at Sanremo,” said sport director Davide Bramati. “We won’t hide the fact that we would like to do it again this Saturday, but at the same time we know that we are not the favorites for this edition. On the other hand, the riders are really keen on doing their best in this first Monument of the season and we’ll just see what happens.”

Michael Matthews wants to be a ‘monument’ player

A motivated Michael Matthews leads Team BikeExchange on Saturday at Milano-Sanremo hoping to better his third place in 2015. The Aussie returned to BikeExchange with big ambitions for the monuments and fast finishes across the season.

“One of the reasons why Michael Matthews came back to this team was to target the monuments, and Milan-San Remo is the first one of the year,” said sport director Matt White. “I believe it’s a race that Michael can win, and I think going into the race, he showed us that he has good form in Paris-Nice and we are certainly aiming to win on Saturday. We have a really strong and dedicated team to look after Michael.”

Matthews, who had two podium spots with third and held the leader’s jersey for one day at Paris-Nice, is hoping to be in the mix in the closing meters down the Via Roma.

“I will arrive at Milan-San Remo after a strong week at Paris-Nice. We had great work from all the team, and it was really good for me, both physically and also mentally to be back with my GreenEDGE teammates,” Matthews said. “I feel even more motivated to do well and our target is to fight to arrive until the last few meters at the front and play our best chances for victory. It will only be my second race of the 2021 season, but I feel good, and we will give our best shot at this unique and special race.”