The tussle between Dwars Door Vlaanderen and the Three Days of De Panne over 2018 dates has come to an end, with the UCI deciding that Dwars will take the coveted pre-Tour de Flanders slot from De Panne.
Dwars door Vlaanderen, held up to now on the first Wednesday of the 'Flemish fortnight', became a WorldTour race in 2017 and quickly stated its intentions to move forward a week, ahead of De Ronde on the Sunday, much to the outrage of the De Panne organisers.
For the last 41 years, the Three Days of De Panne has taken place from Tuesday to Thursday in the second week. Philippe Gilbert won the race last year and went on to win Flanders but the trend has been going in the way of the true Flanders favourites skipping the four-stage, three-day race.
Dwars is confident its new slot will help it grow in stature, with one day of racing – very much in the Tour of Flanders mould – providing a more suitable stepping stone towards the big day for the peloton's top classics riders.
"We are very pleased with this. It is a position on the cycling calendar where we have five years to pursue, with three WorldTour races in one week," said race chairman Carlo Lambrecht, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. “We will adjust our course to the standard of the teams. We will not imitate the Tour of Flanders, but we will make our own course that has the identity of Dwars door Vlaanderen."
Fellow Belgian daily newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad reports that the Three Days of De Panne is likely to become a two-day event, with the possibility of retaining its name thanks to the introduction of a women's race the day after the conclusion of the men's. A move to Dwars' old slot, between Milan-San Remo (Sunday) and E3-Harelbeke (Wednesday), means the three-day format would be something of a squeeze and would no doubt have a detrimental effect on the start list.
Gilbert, Lampaert and Lutsenko on the 2017 Dwars door Vlaanderen podium (Bettini Photo)
Pozzato into managerial role as Wilier extends sponsorship
Wilier Triestina has extended its title sponsorship of Angelo Citracca's Italian professional continental team, with Filippo Pozzato extending his own stay in a deal that will see him start to take on managerial responsibilities.
The bike manufacturer began its backing for the 2017 season, at the same time as saddle maker Selle Italia, and the team, which was founded in 2009, will continue to be known as Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia.
"It is a pride for us to continue to have Wilier Triestina as Title Partner. We want to grow and establish ourselves in the coming years as the reference team on the Italian cycling scene, and this announcement is the first fundamental step," said Citracca. "From 2018 we will start a process of strengthening to 360 degrees, also promoting a new image can enhance even more our partners and improve interaction with the fans."
Pozzato, a former winner of Milan-San Remo and runner-up at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, is the team's most high-profile rider and, at 35 years of age, he seems to be laying the foundations for retirement.
"I thank Angelo Citracca and the Gastaldello family, owner of Wilier Triestina, for the continued confidence and for the opportunity to add to the role of professional cyclist that of managerial responsibility. We start with humility but I'm confident we can, with time, make a valuable contribution in the technical and management aspects, as well as in the development of agreements with our partners. Obviously the role of cyclist will remain the primary but this new job is a challenge that looks to the future and one that I'm very happy to accept."
As well as securing Pozzato's future at the team, Citracca is hoping Wilier Triestina's renewed backing will help him shore up the team's 2018 roster over the next month or so.
At the top of the priority list is tying the 23-year-old sprint talent Jakub Mareczko, twice a runner-up at this year's Giro d'Italia, to a new deal. Citracca also indicated that several of the current roster will re-sign, while “many new arrivals” will be announced once the transfer window opens on August 1.
Drucker dethrones Jungels in Luxembourg TT
BMC's Jempy Drucker had stood on the Luxembourg national time trial title podium in second place for the last two years with Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) claiming the gold medal. On Thursday, the 30-year-old reversed the result to claim his first elite title with Jungels forced to settle for second place.
For the third time in four years, Alex Kirsch claimed the bronze medal.
"It was a totally different course to last year. It was pan flat and it was almost 20km so it was at a really high speed. I felt pretty good. I came out of Route du Sud and I recovered pretty well. It's also a surprise for me to beat Bob Jungels (Quickstep-Floors) because he's a really good time trialist, he's a specialist," said Drucker.
Drucker had shown recent form against the clock in the Tour de Luxembourg prologue, finishing in third place. On the longer course though, he paced his effort to perfection to claim the win by six seconds.
"I was just focusing on my own performance. I didn't wear a radio so I had no time splits. I focused on my effort and that worked pretty well. I tried to pace myself well. Also, with the heat it wasn't so easy so I tried to keep a little bit left in the tank for the second lap because we had to do two laps."
Although he is unsure when he will debut the jersey, Drucker explained he was delighted to have taken the win. His second of the season after his stage win at the Tour de Luxembourg.
"To wear the jersey for the next year will be really cool. I'm not sure where I will be able to wear it for the first time as my program hasn't been decided but it will be really nice."
Drucker will have the opportunity to add the road race title to his palmares on Sunday. Drucker's previous best result in the road race came back in 2013 when he placed third. Jungels has won the last two editions of the national road race championships.
Ben Dyball to stagiaire with Delko Marseille Provence KTM
A stint of racing in France with the amateur AC Bisontine team has paid off for Ben Dyball as the Australian has secured a stagiaire ride with Pro-Continental team Delko Marseille Provence KTM.
The former Australian U23 road race champion started the season with the St George Continental team, riding to third in the national time trial titles and third at the Oceania championships against the clock. The 28-year-old won a stage on his way to the overall la Boucle de l'Artois title in France, and the GP New Bike Eurocapi and Prix de Valentin.
"It is a real honour to race with Delko Marseille Provence KTM. They have a beautiful schedule and they are always fighting in every race. Frédéric Rostaing [the team manager] trusts me while some managers are still reluctant to recruit riders of my age. I thank him and I will be there to repay the favour," said Dyball, according to be-celt. "Previously I decided to join the AC Bisontine team of Pascal Orlandi on the advice of Yann Dejan and Scott Bradburn, my coach in Australia, because it is one of the best training teams in France to learn the job."
20-year-old Jonathan Couanon of the development VC La Pomme Marseille squad will also join the team as a stagiaire from August 1. No race schedule has been announced for the riders although both could start the Vuelta a Burgos which gets underway from August 1 in Spain.