The Na-Tourcriterium Sint-Niklaas – the post-Tour criterium held each year in the Flemish city of Sint-Niklaas, between Ghent and Antwerp – will not be held in 2019, Het Laatste Nieuws has reported.
The Belgian race has been one of the many post-Tour criteriums held in France, Belgium and the Netherlands that attract the Tour de France's biggest stars in the weeks after La Grande Boucle has finished in Paris. The winner of the main event in Sint-Niklaas in August this year was BMC's Greg Van Avermaet.
Riders are paid handsomely to appear in events that are often certain to have crowd-pleasing outcomes, although the Sint-Niklaas event was rare in that it was free for spectators to attend. The pro riders appearing, however, were not free, and dwindling spectator numbers have prompted organisers Golazo to pull the plug on the race.
"Sint-Niklaas has a long history in cycling. For years, it hosted the start of the Tour of Flanders," Golazo's Nick Van Den Bosch told hln.be, referring to the 21 years between 1977 and 1997 that De Ronde started there, before a move to Bruges and, last year, to a start in Antwerp.
Van Den Bosch suggested that a new, different road cycling event to showcase Sint-Niklaas – which already hosts the Waaslandcross cyclo-cross event each December – could be on the cards by way of a replacement.
"There is nothing concrete. The negotiations have only just begun," said Van Den Bosch. "But there's interest from the city in hosting the start or finish of a stage of the Baloise Belgium Tour or the BinckBank Tour, which we also organise. Those races are broadcast live on TV, which would give the city national and international coverage.
"The Sint-Niklaas post-Tour crit might be no more, but what the replacement will look like, we're still not sure," he said.
Gruppo Uvet backs Contador Foundation team
Travel and tourism industry leader Gruppo Uvet has signed on to support the Alberto Contador Foundation and its flagship UCI Continental team Kometa Cycling.
The foundation announced last week that Polartec was stepping away as the team's title sponsor and would be replaced in that role by a greater commitment from Kometa. Adding Gruppo Uvet further solidifies the foundation's development mission.
"The incorporation of Gruppo Uvet reinforces the solidity of this project and will allow us to continue progressing in the path of growth that we would like to one day end up taking us to the Continental Professional category," said Francisco Javier Contador, the foundation's general manager.
Gruppo Uvet was founded in 1950 by Francesco Patanè and currently employs more than 1,000 people. The Open Travel Network, Settemari, Last Minute Tour, Ufleet-TKT and Uvet Global Business Travel are some of the companies that fall under the Gruppo Uvet corporate umbrella. Uvet also owns 100 per cent of the Italian airline Blue Panorama, which has a strong presence in Italy, Albania and which also operates routes to Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Antigua, Cape Verde, Tanzania and Kenya. Luca Patanè is the current president of Gruppo Uvet.
"The first time I met Dr. Patanè, two years ago, I had the impression that I was in front of a brilliant person with a very clear vision of the future, of the evolution of society and of the world itself," said Ivan Basso, sports manager of Kometa Cycling Team. "At that time he already liked what was then a mere cycling project, without the concreteness it has now. In these two years this harmony has been consolidated and with a view to 2019 has decided to enter a very prominent place in the team. One of the most beautiful things about this joint venture is that everyone in their field, in business and sports, we share this vision of the future. He is more than a sponsor."
Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador take a selfie at a ceremony welcoming Gruppo Uvet.
Canada sets roster for Berlin World Cup
Cycling Canada has selected a strong team of endurance and sprint athletes to compete in the third round of the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Berlin November 30 through December 2. Round 4 of the World Cup follows two weeks later, December 14-16, in London.
"This next month is going to be very important for our track programs," said Jessika Grand Bois, track program manager for Cycling Canada. "We're hoping to build on the good performances our team had in Milton [World Cup] last month to keep gaining valuable points in Berlin and London for [Tokyo 2020] Olympic qualifications. We will also have a mix of elite and development riders competing in Portugal and Switzerland during the next month, before a quick break for the holidays and before we attack the last set of World Cups of the season."
For this weekend's World Cup in Berlin, which will also host the 2020 UCI Track World Championships, Canada will feature a full team of endurance and sprint athletes. Rio Olympic bronze medallist Allison Beveridge will compete in both the Omnium and Madison, where she'll be joined by Steph Roorda. Kinley Gibson, Ariane Bonhomme, Annie Foreman-Mackey and Roorda will compete in the Team Pursuit, with the men's endurance squad also competing in this event and Derek Gee competing in the Omnium.
The sprint squad is led by Rio Olympian Hugo Barrette, who will compete in the Sprint and Keirin events after winning silver at the Milton World Cup last month. He will be joined in both events by NextGen athlete Joel Archambault, riding on the P2M development team. Lauriane Genest and Amelia Walsh will both compete in the women's Team Sprint and Sprint, with Genest also competing in the Keirin.
For the London World Cup at the London Olympic velodrome, Canada will send the same sprint squad but only three endurance athletes: Beveridge for the Omnium and Madison, Roorda for the Madison and Aidan Caves for the men's Omnium.
Allison Beveridge - Calgary, AB [OM, MAD, TP reserve]
Steph Roorda - Vancouver, BC [TP, MAD]
Kinley Gibson - Edmonton, AB [TP]
Ariane Bonhomme - Gatineau, QC [TP]
Annie Foreman-Mackey - Kingston, ON [TP]
Derek Gee - Ottawa, ON [TP, OM]
Adam Jamieson - Barrie, ON [TP]
Aidan Caves - Vancouver, BC [KI, TP]
Michael Foley - Milton, ON [TP]
Jay Lamoureux - Victoria, BC [TP]
Hugo Barrette – Iles-de-la-Madeleine, QC [SP, KE]
Joel Archambault (P2M trade team) - St-Christine, QC [SP, KE]
Amelia Walsh - Ayr, ON [TS, SP]
Lauriane Genest - Levis, QC [TS, SP, KE]
Canada's Hugo Barrette wins the keirin repechages round