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VN ticker: Koppenbergcross renamed GP Jolien Verschueren, stolen Italian team track bikes recovered in Romania

Here's the news making headlines for Friday, October 29.

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Women’s Koppenbergcross renamed GP Jolien Verschueren

The women’s Koppenbergcross cyclocross race has been renamed the Grand Prix Jolien Verschueren in honor of the Belgian ‘crosser who died this summer.

Jolien Verschueren, who had won the race in 2015 and 2016, succumbed to brain cancer in July at the age of 31.

“If she needs to be remembered somewhere, then here,” Erwin Vervecken of event organizer Golazo said. “We’ll make it a nice tribute.”

The men’s and women’s Koppenbergcross opens up the X20 Trofee on Monday. The event has become one of the most popular ‘crosses of the season thanks to its hosting on a Belgian national holiday and its focus on the iconic cobbled climb made famous by the Tour of Flanders.

Astana Qazaqstan re-ups with four riders on two-year contracts

Four riders have prolonged their contracts with Astana Qazaqstan, officials confirmed Friday.

Italians Fabio Felline, Davide Martinelli, Manuele Boaro, and Colombian Harold Tejada all signed two-year agreements with the Kazakh team.

“With the riders, we announce today we can say we are gathering a strong and ambitious group, ready for some important achievements in the upcoming season,” said team boss Alexander Vinokourov. “Fabio is a very experienced rider, and we can count on him in almost all kinds of races, both pursuing the team goals or asking him to fight for a personal result.

“Davide will be part of the improved ‘classic races’ group, and we can expect from him and other riders something really nice at the northern classics,” he said. “Manuele is a strong and loyal team player, always ready to support the leader or to protect team interests in the breakaway. Harold is still very young and if he leaves all his health problems behind, I am sure he will become an important part of our grand tour group.”

Italian team track bikes recovered after theft from Roubaix world championships

Bikes stolen from Filippo Ganna and the Italian track team have been discovered during a Police raid in Romania.

21 bike bikes valued at up to €600,000 were found Thursday by the Romanian Organised Crime Brigade in Galați, eastern Romania. Officials were raiding a gang involved in illegal drug trafficking and theft when 21 custom Pinarellos were found among a stash of stolen goods, hashish, and mixed currency.

The bikes had been stolen from an Italian team vehicle that was parked outside a hotel in Lille while the team attended the track world championships in Roubaix last weekend.

Officers said four suspects have been arrested and remain in custody.

Steff Cras, Matthew Holmes re-up with Lotto Soudal, Krists Neilands renews with Israel Start-Up Nation through 2023

Lotto Soudal and Israel Start-Up Nation have been pinning down riders for the new year.

Climbing duo Steff Cras and Matthew Holmes have renewed with Lotto-Soudal for one more season, while Krists Neilands has committed to two more years at Israel Start-Up Nation.

Neilands, 27, has been with the team since 2017 after spending one year with Hagens Berman Axeon.

“When Kjell (Carlström) and Rik (Verbrugghe) asked me to meet and discuss my future, I found out that they have some great plans for me at ISN,” Neilands said. “The decision was very simple after that meeting … I feel that ISN is growing every year. I want to be part of this journey for much longer.”

Holmes has become a lead climber at Lotto Soudal after winning on Willunga Hill at the Tour Down Under last winter and bagging third on a stage at the Giro d’Italia later that year. The Brit hopes to get back on track next season after a difficult 2021.

“Overall, I look back on the past two seasons with great pleasure,” Holmes said.

“Maybe this year has not fully gone to plan, but I still won a WorldTour race during my first pro contract. It’s an achievement that I’m still really proud of. On a couple of occasions, I’ve also been close to a grand tour stage win, which really gave me confidence to go and try to win one next year. In my head, I know it’s doable.”