"We are going to Paris-Tours with a clear leader in Greg Van Avermaet, who won the 2011 edition," BMC's Sports Director Yvon Ledanois said. "It's the last one-day classic and the final race for BMC Racing Team in Europe for the 2016 season, so we are definitely motivated to take home the win. We know Greg is in great form and we have a strong team to support him on Sunday."
Since his Olympic gold medal performance, Van Avermaet has won the GP de Montreal and finished fourth overall at the Eneco Tour, but he will need more speed if he is to go up against the pure sprinters in Doha, and Paris-Tours is a good place to find it.
"Paris-Tours is always a race I look forward to as I've had success there in the past with my win in 2011 and I was on the podium last year," Van Avermaet said. It's my last chance to race before the UCI World Championship Road Race in Qatar so it will be a good chance to test my form and get some more kilometres in my legs before the road race, which is my last big goal for the season."
BMC for Paris-Tours: Silvan Dillier, Jempy Drucker, Floris Gerts, Fabian Lienhard, Michael Schar, Greg Van Avermaet, Loic Vliegen, Rick Zabel.
Lotto Soudal extend with Van der Sande, Vanendert, Armee and Marczynski
Lotto Soudal announced today contract extensions for four riders: Tosh Van der Sande for two seasons, and Jelle Vanendert, Sander Armée and Thomas Marczynski for one year.
Van der Sande, who has been with the team since turning pro in 2012, has no problem sticking with the same team for longer. "You know everyone and we are all like a family. I want to thank the team for the confidence they give me and for the opportunity to sign for two more years," Van der Sande said. "I have to share my sprint chances with Greipel, Debusschere and Roelandts, but I really don't mind. They are faster than me and we each have our own races. Usually I get my chance in the difficult stage races like during the Vuelta this year."
Vanendert has been even more loyal to the team, having first joined in 2009 when it was Silence-Lotto. "When I arrived eight years ago, I was injured. The team believed in me and they kept on doing so. Lotto Soudal has given me all the opportunities in my career and that created a bond and mutual respect. Last season, I worked a lot for the team, and besides that I also obtained some good results. Each year it's getting more difficult to win a race, but I keep on believing.
"Next season, I will continue working for my teammates. It makes me feel good and it takes the pressure off my shoulders. I don't have to perform necessarily well in certain races, but off course I would like to win a classic or a stage in a Grand Tour next year. I remain ambitious and I believe that I can grab an opportunity when it's there."
Armée signed on for his fourth season, while Marczynski was thrilled to get a second season after a year plagued by illness.
"I've struggled a lot with my health and in the end they've discovered a virus," Marczynski said. "However, I always gave 100 per cent for the team and I've tried to be the best possible teammate. That's probably why they give me another chance and signed me again for next year. I see it as another opportunity. The team understood the health problems I had and that I couldn't perform as well as I wanted to. My season finished early and now I'll just focus on getting better. I hope that I can start my preparation for next season in December. Once I've beaten the virus, I'll be able to perform much better."
Baugnies, McNally extend with Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Jérôme Baugnies and Mark McNally have extended their contracts with the Wanty-Groupe Gobert squad, the team announced today. Baugnies, the recent winner of the Druivenkoers - Overijse, earned two more years, while McNally signed on for one more season.
"We are very pleased to have reached a deal with Jérôme Baugnies. He is important for the team. He wins at least one UCI race per year," said sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren.
McNally, who was second in Ronde van Drenthe in his first season at the Pro Continental level, said the result gave him confidence for the rest of the season. In the Eneco Tour, he finished a close second on a stage.
"It was a hard week. I was a little bit frustrated, but I showed my qualities to the public." Next year, he hopes to get his first victory with Wanty-Groupe Gobert. "Hopefully with the support of the staff and my teammates I will continue my development as a rider."
Tyler Williams signs a two-year deal with Team Cycling Academy
American Tyler Williams has signed with the Cycling Academy team for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the squad announced today. The 21-year-old comes from the Axeon Hagens Berman team.
"In Tyler we see a great potential, but even more then that, a guy with exceptional work ethic," said team manager Ran Margaliot. "Tyler had a mixed year but we truly believe that given the opportunity with Academy he will put it to great use. You can say that we're growing together, the team and the riders, but doing so on the fast track."
Williams only began racing at age 15. He joined the BMC Development Team at age 18 and was second in the U23 Paris-Roubaix in 2014.
"I found out that I thrive when the going gets tough and the conditions around tend to grind people down. When cyclists around me seem demoralized by them, I tend to get myself going," Williams said.
Margaliot sees Williams as a rider with unrealised potential. "He is a tough guy. He is extremely loyal, and a hard worker. We believe in these kinds of values, and if you possess them - we will give you a chance. Now it's up to him."