Team Sunweb named the riders who will represent the squad the upcoming UCI Road World Championships professional team time trial. The men and women will contest the same 42.5km course from Ravnanger to Bergen on September 17.
Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin will lead the men's squad, together with Wilco Kelderman, who just completed the Vuelta a Espana in fourth place overall, Søren Kragh Andersen who was third on the final stage, and Michael Matthews fresh off his top 10 finishes in the Canadian WorldTour races. Lennard Kämna and Sam Oomen, who quit the Vuelta due to injury and illness, have recovered enough to take on the race.
"Our men's program have just come out of a great Vuelta and some good racing in Canada so are in top shape," team coach Adriaan Helmantel said. "Sam and Lennard both had to abandon the Vuelta and are fully recovered again and back on track for Bergen. Tom and Wilco have shown really strong TT's across the year with Tom winning the Giro's time trial and Wilco finishing 2nd in the Vuelta's TT. To round off the team we have Søren and Michael who are more explosive riders with the characteristics needed for a course of this nature."
The course is a mix of flat, straight-forward roads and technical sections, wtih two climbs and some cobblestones near the end. Sunweb's scientific expert Teun van Erp has been working to come up with the proper rider order and pacing plans for each squad.
For the women, European champion Ellen van Dijk will captain the team with Lucinda Brand, Leah Kirchmann, Floortje Mackaij, Coryn Rivera and Sabrina Stultiens completing the team.
"We believe that our women's team are in contention to take a medal in Bergen, but it will be a fierce battle," Helmantel said. "We have spent some time training to perfect our technique over the past few months and have a final block coming up this week to further fine-tune. Each rider is a strong time trialist in their own right. We have the European ITT champion with Ellen and a powerhouse with Lucinda. Alongside these two we have the fast-women Leah and Coryn with Sabrina who is good on the climbs and Floortje who is strong against the clock. After a strong result in the Giro Rosa's TTT the team are motivated to take a strong result this weekend."
Portuguese team named for Worlds
The Portuguese team for the UCI Road World Championships elite men's races has been named, with National Team Manager José Poeira picking an experienced team headed up by former world champion Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates). José Gonçalves (Team Katusha Alpecin), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar Team), Ricardo Vilela (Manzana Postobón), Rúben Guerreiro (Trek-Segafredo), and Tiago Machado (Team Katusha Alpecin) round out the team. Nelson Oliveira and Rui Costa will also compete in the individual time trial.
The 276.6km road race for the elite men finishes with 12 laps of a testing 19.1 km circuit, with the main difficulty, Salmon Hill - a 1.5km long ascent that averages 6.4 per cent cresting 10km before the finish. But the run-in to the line is technical and contains some cobblestones, which may not be the optimal recipe for a bunch sprint.
"We will have a hard fight between the teams looking for a sprint finish and the other teams trying to eliminate the sprinters from the race decisions," Poeira said. "The national teams with nine riders will have the most responsibility to manage the race. We will be focused on keeping all options open until the end. In this kind of race we always have the ambition to put a rider on the top 10."
The individual time trial is a unique course, finishing on Mont Floyen, a 3.4km climb with grades of 9.1 per cent. "It is a time trial that suits better to our riders than a long and flat individual race. But it is a diferent kind of exercise, so we have to study the final ascent in order to choose the better options in terms of bike material."
Portugal will have four U23 men competing: André Carvalho, Francisco Campos, Ivo Oliveira and José Neves, with Oliveira racing both road race and time trial.
Afonso Silva, Pedro José Lopes and Pedro Miguel Lopes will represent in the junior men's race, while Maria Marins will be the sole rider in the junior women's road race.
Teuns aiming for more Belgian success
The winner of the VOO-Tour de Wallonie in July, Dylan Teuns is aiming to add the GP de Wallonie to his recent run of winning form this week. The BMC rider won two stages and the VOO-Tour de Wallonie overall, followed by stage and Tour de Pologne success and capped off with two stages and the Arctic Race of Norway.
"It's always nice to race on home soil, and this is a parcours that suits me well. Grand Prix de Wallonie is another typical Ardennes race, and I have already shown that I can perform well in this region over the 2017 season," said Teuns, who was sixth in 2014. "I am going into the race after the two Canadian one-day races, so I hope that I recover well. I really enjoy this style of racing, and I am motivated to try and go for a good result with the team."
BMC can also look to Ben Hermans for a result while sports director Valerio Piva believes Loïc Vliegen could spring a surprise in the September 13 race.
"Although it is not one of the biggest Classics, Grand Prix de Wallonie is a famous race, and it has a traditional uphill finish in Namur. As always, we will need to race aggressively, and everyone will have the opportunity to try and jump in the right moves. We have a good group of riders with the experience of Martin Elmiger, who will be our road captain, and younger riders like Nathan Van Hooydonck and Patrick Müller," Piva said.
"I think Ben Hermans will come out of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in good shape and alongside Dylan Teuns, this is a good finish for him, and we will look to protect these riders. We know Dylan is motivated and that he can perform well on a parcours like this, so we will see how he recovers after being in Canada. Plus we also have Loïc Vliegen coming out of the Vuelta a España, and we will see what his condition is like, but if you can finish the Vuelta, you are already in good shape."
The BMC squad for the GP de Wallonie features Martin Elmiger, Floris Gerts, Ben Hermans, Patrick Müller, Joey Rosskopf, Dylan Teuns, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Loïc Vliegen.
WB-Veranclassic extend with Ista and Jules
The team's general manager Christophe Brandt explained the duo both met and exceeded expectations and it was, therefore, an easy decision to re-sign both riders.
"They were two important pillars of the WB-Veranclassic-Aqua Protect team in 2017," Brandt said. "Kevyn has enjoyed his best campaign since he joined our team. A great show of continuity and he was able to take advantage of his opportunities and in 2018 he will work with our new recruit, Kenny Dehaes, a rider he knows well, a duet that will bear fruit!
While Ista is yet to win in 2017, Jules won the opening stages of La Provence and Circuit Cycliste Sarthe - Pays de la Loire in his most successful season to date. The 30-year-old will aim to add to his wins as he closes his season out at GP de Wallonie, Paris-Chauny, GP d’Isbergues, Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours. Ista's final races for the season see the 32-year-old head to Grand Prix de Wallonie, Grand Prix Impanis, l'Eurométropole Tour, Binche-Chimay-Binche, Paris-Bourges and Paris-Tours.