Cancellara back in action in Belgium
Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) made his first public appearance since winning gold in the time trial at the Rio 2016 Olympics when he lined out in the Kortrijk Koerse criterium in Belgium on Friday night. In the circumstances, it was hardly surprising to see Cancellara cross the line in first place, ahead of Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo).
"I had promised I’d come and ride here, whether I sparkled in Rio or not,” Cancellara told Sporza. "I was here before and it's always nice to come back to a place where the public can appreciate you. To be Olympic champion again in the twilight of my career is something quite special. That gold medal has a huge impact on me.”
A three-time winner of both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, Cancellara plays great store in his status as a honorary Flandrien, but he confessed that claiming a second Olympic title in one of his last major races might count as his most important victory.
“Many people ask me about the best victory in my career. Before the Olympics, I would have thought of my victories in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but right now they’re overshadowed my performance in Rio de Janeiro. I came to Brazil hoping to win a medal, so for it to be gold was really huge. I can’t understand it sometimes."
Cancellara has yet to outline his plans for the remainder of his final season as a professional, save for a farewell event at Ghent’s Kuipke velodrome on November 12. “What I'm going to do next, I don’t know yet. I’m trying now already to get some structure in my life,” he said. “Normal family life is again at the forefront, with the kids going back to school and so on.
Blythe and Gatto lead Tinkoff at the Hamburg EuroEyes Cyclassics
British national champion Adam Blythe and Italy’s Oscar Gatto will lead the Tinkoff team at the Hamburg EuroEyes Cyclassics on Sunday, with the Russian team hoping the two fast finishers can take on the big-name sprinters in the one-day WorldTour race.
Gatto finished third in the recent Arctic Tour of Norway, while Blythe’s ability to handle the hills and produce a fast finish make him ideal for the finishing circuit in Hamburg that includes the Waseberg climb with 12km to go.
Despite the Vuelta a Espana starting in Spain and other races in Europe, the Hamburg race has attracted a stellar start list including previous winner Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data).
Also in the Tinkoff line-up are Maciej Bodnar, Tour of Denmark winner Michael Valgren, Pavel Brutt, Slovakian road race champion Juraj Sagan, road captain Matteo Tosatto and Nikolay Trusov.
Etixx-QuickStep extend with Pieter Serry
Pieter Serry will remain the colours of Etixx-QuickStep for another season with his Belgian team announcing a contract extension for the 27-year-old. Serry joined Etixx-QuickStep in 2013 after two seasons with Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator and has proved to be an important member of the team since.
"Etixx – Quick-Step was always by my side, supported me even when I was injured and showed how much trust they have in me, so there wasn't much to think about when being given this contract renewal," said Serry who is about to start his seventh career grand tour at the Vuelta a Espana from Saturday. "I'm really happy and thankful to continue my career here and you can be sure I'll work and train with the same determination next season."
Serry added that he enjoys his role and position within the team and is looking forward to continuing to do so.
"I know what my role is inside the team and I'm ready to give it my all in the Ardennes Classics and the Grand Tours for our leaders. Of course, if an opportunity will arise, I'll try to take advantage of it, but my main goals will be to continue my improvement and be there whenever the team needs me," said Serry.
Etixx-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere explained that since joining the team, Serry has become an invaluable domestique and proven himself in the grand tours and spring classics.
"You won't find in the peloton many guys who sacrifice themselves the way Pieter Serry does," said Lefevere. "He's a very valuable helper, a rider who always puts the squad's ambitions ahead of his own and a true professional, things for which he deserves huge respect. He showed that he knows how to prepare for the big races and I'm sure that also in 2017 he'll bring an important input to our team, in the Ardennes as well as in the stage races he'll do."
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Ironman acquires Cape Epic
Ironman has announced it has acquired Cape Epic, added it to its growing mountain bike portfolio alongside The Motatapu and The Pioneer stage races.
The South African stage race is held annually in March, regularly attracting the biggest names in the sport since its 2004 debut.
"We are very excited about the future of the Cape Epic and have been looking for an opportunity to take a significant step forward," Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak. "The event has changed the face of mountain biking and the opportunity to tap into the expertise of a global event business like IRONMAN will take it to the next level. I am honored to be afforded the opportunity to lead IRONMAN's mountain biking business and look forward to being part of the global strategy."
Ironman CEO Andrew Messick explained the importance of acquiring the Cape Epic race and its plans moving forward.
"The Cape Epic is an iconic, world-class event that many consider the most prestigious mountain bike race in the world. This acquisition shows the commitment of IRONMAN and Wanda Sports to growing mass participation events worldwide," said Messick. "We see great potential in the mountain biking market, and the Cape Epic will anchor a portfolio of exciting and extraordinary off road and dirt-based races."
The existing Cape Epic management and staff, including Lynn Naudé, will remain in their roles with no change in the race being run out of Cape Town either.
The 2017 Cape Epic will be held March 19-26 with the route to be announced in October.