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It’s a bumper news edition this week! Let’s get started with the Tour de Normandie Feminin, which has revealed the 22 teams, among them 6 WT squads, that will be at the start of the event, scheduled for 14 to 17 March.

Marta Cavalli of FDJ-SUEZ had a fall at training camp in Benidorm, suffering a contusion in the pelvis. The Italian rider will need to take some time off to recuperate fully. We wish her all the best in her recovery.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado rode her final race of the CX season last week due to a back problem, which requires rest and recuperation.

National Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini had a tough season last yer, with a long bout of COVID-19, a serious crash at the Giro and a bad skin infection, which not only ended her Tour de France avec Zwift, but also upended her aim of participting in the World Championships. She recommenced racing last week at the UAE Tour.

One of cycling’s most prestigious brands, Italian bike manufacturer Pinarello, has entered the Women’s WorldTour for the first time with Roland Cycling, supplying the Swiss squad with bikes this year. The bike manufacturer will continue to supply bikes to women’s continental team Top Girls Fassa Bortolo, but the deal with a WWT team is a first for the Treviso-based brand.

Some teams are already looking at enticing new riders to bolster their squads in the future. Demi Vollering, Lotte Kopecky, Grace Brown, Sarah Gigante, Lizzie Deignan, Juliette Labous, and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot are among some of the big names who are all out of contract next year. The management of Team SD Worx-Protime is keen to extend deals with Vollering and Kopecky. Vollering has been linked in the Dutch press to a deal with UAE Team ADQ for 1 million Euros. Her current team, however, indicated that they might not be willing or able to meet such hefty salary expectations.

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has signed with Dutch-based agency SEG Cycling. The French rider has a contract with Ineos until 2025 but the British team has not yet decided on building a women’s squad. Ferrand-Prevot is looking for a long-term commitment which will enable her to go back to road cycling, and she will make a decision by the end of the season.

Spanish national champion Mavi Garcia has hinted that she may retire in 2025. The Liv AlUla Jayco rider won her fifth nationals at the age of 39, a remarkable achievement, but admits that age will eventually catch up with her and that the time will soon come to hang up her cleats.

Although retired from competitive sport, Annemiek van Vleuten will ride across the rugged terrain of the Andes in Colombia for eight days as part of the 985 km long Transcordilleras Rally gravel race. The former Movistar team rider said about her trip: “I’m not racing for a result, just for the adventure!”

From over one hundred thousand applicants down to just six. Who has what it takes to be a pro cyclist? The fight to win a place in a pro team as part of the Zwift Academy will be on Eurosport’s Youtube on 20 February.

The continued existence of the major cycling tours of the Amstel Gold Race is in danger, and with that the Amstel Gold Race itself. According to the municipality, the races affect the quality of life of locals, cause tension between farmers and cycling tourists and disturb the peace in the otherwise quiet areas. A decision on the events and the possible future of the Amstel Gold Race will be made at the next council meeting on 19 February.

The UCI has hinted at some reforms in the CX calendar, which explains why the calendar’s release will be delayed until a few weeks from now. The rule that riders must ride all World Cup races to be eligible to ride the World Championships is expected to be relaxed.

For those of you into MTB, the UCI has released the full calendar for the MTB World Cup starting in April in Brazil and finishing in October in Canada. XCM will feature at three of the 14 rounds of the series. That also includes rounds for cross-country Olympic (XCO), cross-country short track (XCC), downhill (DHI), enduro (EDR) and E-enduro (E-EDR). More details can be found here.

A report published by the UCI has highlighted the extremely positive impact in terms of economic impact and sustainability of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships for its hosts. Nearly a million spectators (40% were women) gathered at the different venues to watch the competitions. A third of them came from outside Scotland, including almost 90,000 from outside the UK. The event brought significant economic benefits, generating over £205 million of economic activity for Scotland, with the equivalent of 5,285 jobs created over a year. In a survey, 79% of Scottish residents said they intended to cycle more. More details can be found here.

For all the junior riders out there – registration for the 57th European Junior Cycling Tour Assen has begun. The race has participants on the list from Hong Kong, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Riders will race two criteriums in Assen, an Omloop over the VAM mountain, a time trial over the Muur of Emmen and an Omloop in Lieveren. The Tour Assen will focus specifically on junior women riders this year, providing a special leader’s jersey. More information can be found here.

For the riders and all other athletes who will be on the podium at this year’s Paris Olympics, the medals awarded will contain a little surprise, featuring a hexagon-shaped piece of iron in the centre taken from the original Eiffel Tower.

 

Results

Exact Cross Maldegem: Laura Verdonschot (BEL) ahead of Leonie Bentveld (NED) and Manon Bakker (NED)
Superprestige Middelkerke: Lucinda Brand (NED) ahead of Laura Verdonschot and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (NED)

New Zealand National Championships
U23 ITT champion: Ella Wyllie (Liv AlUla Jayco)
Elite ITT champion: Kim Cadzow (EF Eduction-Cannondale)
U23 and Elite Road champion: Ella Wyllie

UAE Tour Stage 1: Lorena Wiebes (Team SDWorx Protime) ahead of Rachele Barbieri (Team dsm-firmenich PostNL) and Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ)
Stage 2: Lorena Wiebes ahead of Chiara Consonni and Clara Copponi (Lidl-Trek)
Stage 3: Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx Protime) ahead of Neve Bradbury (Canyon//SRAM Racing) and Mavi Garcia (Liv AlUla Jayco)

Stage 4: Amber Kraak (FDJ-SUEZ) ahead of Lorena Wiebes and Daria Pikulik (Human Powered Health)
GC: Lotte Kopecky ahead of Neve Bradbury and Mavi Garcia

 

This week in cycling history

Gunn-Rita Dahle

The Norwegian mountain biker, born on 10 February 1973, is one of the most successful athletes in her discipline. The now 51-year-old has won ten World and nine European Championships in cross-country and marathon, as well as the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. During her 20-year career she overcame serious illness in 2007, and was able to get back onto the podium only two years later. After her retirement in 2018, she took on the role of a bike brand ambassador. From her early days of success, she used her platform to advocate for cycling as a sport, particularly amongst women, and as a sustainable means of transport in general. For the last few years, she has worked for the local government in her native county of Rogaland inNorway. She is involved in promoting safe travel, championing the bike as a day-to-day form of transport plus extending and developing the regional cycling network. Recently, she has also picked up ultra-endurance cycling and e-mountain biking, and still shows her competitive spirit at various cycling events.

 

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