Merckx leaves Oman after former coach dies
Eddy Merckx has left the Tour of Oman early after his father-in-law and former coach, Lucian Acou, passed away aged 94. Acou had reportedly become ill on Monday and, after falling while going to pick up the newspaper outside, he died later that day.
Merckx, who is one of the organisers of the Tour of Oman, had remained in Oman and attended the pre-race press conference. However, he is now making the lengthy journey back to Belgium with his son Axel.
It is expected that Merckx will stay in Europe for just a few days before returning to the Middle East for the final stages.
The Tour of Oman began on Tuesday with a stage to Al Bustan. Etixx-QuickStep’s Bob Jungels claimed victory after a late attack and now holds the race lead 10 seconds ahead of Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data).
Bos named in Dutch Worlds team
Theo Bos’ ambition of making it to the Olympic Games this year has received a boost after he was named in the Dutch line-up for the UCI Track World Championships next month. The Dimension Data rider has been picked for the individual sprint and the kilometre time trial.
Bos has taken a year out of his road racing programme, and a serious pay cut, to focus on the Olympics in Rio. He is a three-time world champion in the Sprint, his last title coming in 2007, and holds a kilometre world title from 2005. He won national titles in both events late last year, a result that persuaded him to aim for the track in Rio.
European sprint and kilometre champion Jeffrey Hoogland will be the Netherlands' second rider in the sprint competition. The 22-year-old will also line-up in the team competition along with Nils van’t Hoenderdaal, Hugo Haak and Matthijs Büchli.
Elis Ligtlee and Laurine van Riessen will be competing in all the sprint competitions available to the Dutch women, including the 500-metre time trial, keirin, team and individual sprints. Kirsten Wild, who won a stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar earlier this month, has been picked for the Omnium, while Tim Veldt is riding in the men’s version.
Dion Beukeboom, Roy Eefting, Wim Stroetinga, Jan Willem van Schip and Joost van der Burg will ride the team pursuit.
E3 Harelbeke opts for uncontroversial 2016 poster
The E3 Harelbeke organisers always look to make an impact with their race posters and their 2016 effort draws on the race's Good Friday date, showing a priest giving a reading with the caption, "Cycling is holy. Winning is sacred."
Mercifully, organisers opted for a less controversial image than last year, which featured a hand reaching towards the backside of a podium girl in reference to Peter Sagan's indiscretion after the 2013 race. It was captioned with the words, "Who squeezes them in Harelbeke" and caused an uproar, following posters in 2011 and 2014 that also attracted criticism on the grounds of sexism.
The Belgian one-day race will take place on Friday March 25.
Specialized and SRAM to auction eTap Tarmacs for World Bicycle Relief
Specialized and SRAM have teamed up to raise money for charity by auctioning off the first five S-Works Tarmacs to be equipped with Red eTap, SRAM’s new electronic groupset.
The auction, which takes place Tuesday through Friday, will see five of the special edition bikes, which are not commercially available, go under the hammer in aid of World Bicycle Relief.
WBR is a non-profit organisation that aims to mobilise people in rural and developing areas, ensuring they have access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. They have to date delivered over 275,000 bikes.
“We are inspired by this extraordinary auction whose proceeds will go to fighting the barrier of distance that separates individuals from their independence and freedom," said FK Day, founder and president of WBR and executive vice president of SRAM.
The auction will be hosted by Ebay For Charity, starting at 5pm CET on Tuesday and running until Friday. For more information visit specializedcharityauction.com