News shorts: Boeckmans back on his bike

Stybar may race cross after all, Vervaeke earns extension at Lotto, U23 TT world champ Würtz eschews WorldTour offers

Boeckmans back on his bike

It has been a long time since the crash that threatened his life, and the road to full recovery still stretches out ahead, but Kris Boeckmans made a significant step this weekend when he got back on his bike for the first time since that day in September. 

The Belgian crashed heavily on stage 8 of the Vuelta a España 10 days ago, suffering facial trauma with several fractures, concussion, broken ribs, pneumothorax, laceration and bleeding of the lung, and swollen pulmonary tissue. He was kept in an induced coma for over a week before returning to Belgium to undergo major facial surgery.

Boeckmans took to Twitter on Sunday to post a photo of himself riding a bike on the open road for the first time since his crash. He has already stated his intentions to make a return to professional racing, and his contract has been renewed by Lotto Soudal for a further two years. 

Stybar may race some cyclo-cross after all

There may be a bit of backtracking afoot in the Etixx-QuickStep camp over Zdenek Stybar's plans for the winter.

The team said last month that the three-time world champion would, for the first time in his career, not race cyclo-cross during the winter, citing fatigue built up over the course of a heavy season and the need to be fresh for the road in 2016. However, Etixx directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters, speaking to Sporza at the Koppenbergcross race on Sunday, said that there is indeed a possibility that Stybar will return to the mud. 

"Stybar had a very busy season and struggled with some injuries addition, he has lost a lot of strength." said Peeters. "He will wait for the winter to see how he recovers and it may be that he does a bit of cross."

If Stybar does race cyclo-cross once again this season it is unlikely he will have another stab at the World Championships, held this year in Zolder, Belgium, though Peeters didn't rule it out categorically. "We do not know. I do not think so," he said. 

Zdenek Stybar wins stage 6 of the 2015 Tour de France.
Zdenek Stybar wins stage 6 of the 2015 Tour de France. (Bettini)

Vervaeke earns extension with Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal has made a show of faith in their young rider Louis Vervaeke by offering him a contract extension after what has been a troubled neo-pro season.

The 21-year-old joined the team in July 2014 but this year, his first full season as a pro, has been blighted by crashes and bad luck. He came down on the first stage of his first stage race of the season at the Vuelta a Andalucía, suffering concussion that forced a spell off the bike. He returned at the Volta a Catalunya, only to crash again and abandon, all of which led to a disappointing Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia - which he also abandoned.

Lotto Soudal, however, are confident enough in his talents to extend his current contract, set to expire in 2016, for a further year.  

"My contract extension is an example of how the team has confidence and believes in my capacities," said Vervaeke in a statement from the team. “Mentally, it isn’t easy to process all these misfortunes. I would have liked to have another kind of début year. Due to crashes and bad luck, I couldn’t start the races in an optimal condition.

"This year was very instructive mentally and I also learnt a lot about racing with the pros. I got to know my limits and learnt things that could help me in the future. Also the acquaintance with the pro peloton and the team staff went fluently. Next year, my focus will go to the stage races and less to the Ardennes classics. We still need to discuss the details of my program, but it is certain that my future lies in the stage races. If the bad luck stays away next season, then I hope to show what I’m really capable of."

Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal) has his wounds disinfected on the fly
Louis Vervaeke (Lotto Soudal) has his wounds disinfected on the fly. (TDW Sport)

U23 time trial world champion Würtz eschews WorldTour offers

Under-23 time trial world champion Mads Würtz will remain at the Continental level next year despite numerous offers from WorldTour teams, according to a statement released Monday by his mamagement agency, Corso Sports Marketing.

The 21-year-old from Denmark has signed with Team Trefor-Blue Water for 2016 after riding fro ColoQuick this season. Würtz chose to remain at the Continental level to further his development, according to Monday’s statement.

“There’s been so much interest after the success Mads has had this season, and we’ve decided it's best for him to stay at this level for one more year,” said CORSO Sports Marketing director Ken Sommer.

“The plan is for Mads to become even more consistent and grow step by step,” Sommer said. “We’ve seen many times what a rainbow jersey can do to young athletes and we always try to have a more long-term view on our plans.”

Sommer said Würtz hopes to join a WorldTour team in August of 2016.

In 2015, Würtz took stage wins in the Tour de l’Avenir, Tour of Denmark, ZLM Roompot Tour and he won the Danish national under-23 time trial title. During the World Championship time trial in Richmond, Würtz took gold by 12 seconds over Maximilian Schachmann of Germany and by 21 seconds over German bronze medalist Lennard Kämna.

“The World Championships was a great way to end off the season,” Würtz said. “It’s the biggest stage and to come out of there on top was great. I have had a good rest, and now I can’t wait to start racing in 2016 as I build up to a professional career.”

Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Denmark)
Mads Wurtz Schmidt (Denmark) on his way to the rainbow jersey. (Getty Images Sport)

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