Freshly minted world champion Alejandro Valverde's dance card is quickly filling up for 2019, with Dwars door Vlaanderen announcing on social media that the Movistar leader will start the cobbled semi-classic next year on April 3.
Valverde raced the Belgian one-day this year, finishing 11th after winning the overall at the Volta a Catalunya, which ended three days prior. From there he won the GP Miguel Indurain, was second at Klasika Primavera de Amorebieta, fifth in Amstel Gold, second in Flèche Wallonne and 13th in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The 38-year-old Spaniard also signalled earlier this year that he'll take on the cobbled Monument Tour of Flanders as well. Flanders takes place the Sunday after Dwars door Vlaanderen's Wednesday run.
Quick-Step Floors' Yves Lampaert won the race for the second consecutive year in 2018, beating Team Sunweb's Mike Teunissen and three other riders at the line.
Greipel comes together with Fortuneo-Samsic
The French Pro Continental team added three new riders for 2019, including Robert Wagner from LottoNL-Jumbo and 21-year-old Frenchman Alan Riou, who joined the team as a stagiaire in August. Greipel, of course, is the marquee signing as the 36-year-old comes to the team from eight years with Lotto-Soudal, where he left after a bitter disagreement with management.
The 11-tme Tour de France stage winner is expected to start his season with the team at the 2.1 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon, Africa, on January 21.
Greipel has often kicked his seasons off at the Tour Down Under in Australia, where he won 18 stages and the overall classification in 2008 and 2010. However, his painful divorce from Lotto Soudal and his step down to the Pro Continental level means the 36-year-old will face new challenges and new races.
The 2019 Tropicale Amissa Bongo will take place January 21-27, with the opening stage in Bongoville and the seventh and final stage in the capital Libreville.
"I wouldn’t say it’s an adventure, but I’m pretty happy, and I hope I can help the team on the way that they want to reach," Greipel said of his new team earlier this year at the Tour of Britain. "We'll find out next year."
Warren Berguil looks on as Andre Greipel is called forward at the Fortuneo-Samsic dinner (Twitter @Fortuneo_Samsic)
Kometa picks up title sponsorship for Contador U23 team
Days after the the Alberto Contador Foundation announced that US textile manufacturer Polartec will no longer partner with the foundation's U23 Continental team, Kometa has stepped into the role for next year. The Italian agri-food company, which is presided over by Giacomo Pedranzini, joined the program this year as a secondary sponsor. In 2019 the team will race as the Kometa Cycling Team.
“For me it is a reason of great personal satisfaction that Kometa has witnessed year after year the potential of the global cycling project linked to the Alberto Contador Foundation, starting from the cycling school, the junior team, the U23 team, the professional team, the Bicis para la Vida project ... It is a progression based on the common values of honesty, commitment, responsibility and the desire to promote them,” Pedranzini said in a statement released by the team.
In its first year on the Continental level, the foundation's U23 team took 10 wins, all but one by 22-year-old Italian sprinter Matteo Moschetti, who signed a two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo for 2019 and 2020. The team's other win came from 20-year-old Dutchman Kevin Inkelaar on stage 1 of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta. The team has 12 riders signed for the 2019 season
Contador was obviously pleased with Kometa's stepped-up commitment.
“That Kometa is our sponsor is great news," he said. "We feel very identified with his values, and they will allow us to continue growing always with a way of working in which we go hand in hand. This announcement consolidates the project and makes us see the future with a lot of optimism and also with a healthy ambition."
Polartec-Kometa's most prolific winner Matteo Moschetti(Bettini Photo)