Giant-Alpecin monitoring Edvald Boasson Hagen transfer situation
Cyclingnews understands that the Giant-Alpecin team is currently monitoring the situation regarding Edvald Boasson Hagen’s future. The Norwegian rides for Dimension Data but his contract comes to an end this year. It may only be April, but WorldTour teams are already planning for the 2017 and Boasson Hagen could be one of the most in-demand riders.
At the same time, Giant-Alpecin must decide on whether they retain the services of John Degenkolb. The German was hit by a car while training in January and almost lost an index finger.
He is set to return to racing soon but his contract talks with the team – he too is out of contract – have been put on ice for now. He has also been linked with a move to Trek-Segafredo.
Cyclingnews understands that should Giant-Alpecin be unable or unwilling to re-sign Degenkolb, then they may look to snap up Boasson Hagen. Talks between the rider’s agent and the team have taken place in the past, with the two parties talking to each other when Boasson Hagen left Team Sky two years ago. On that occasion, the brief talks took place too late and the rider moved to Dimension Data on a two-year deal. This time, the two parties have already held a brief discussion, although formal transfer negotiations are likely to be a long way off.
Pinot ready for the Tour de France time trials
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) gave further proof of his progress against the watch by winning Friday’s stage 3 at the Tour de Romandie and the Frenchman is optimistic about his prospects of making gains in the two time trials at the Tour de France in July.
Pinot beat Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) by 2 seconds and put 9 seconds into both Chris Froome (Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the hilly 15.1km course in Sion on Friday, after he set the fastest time up the climb and then held his advantage on the descent to the finish.
“The course was made to measure for me, with a nice climb and a straight descent,” Pinot told L’Équipe. “I don’t know exactly what I’m worth in a ‘real’ time trial of 50 kilometres and I’m still a bit short in the mountains, but I’m 26 years old and I’m going to progress more.
While last year’s Tour featured just one short individual time trial on the opening day in Utrecht, there are two, lengthier tests on the agenda in 2016 – the rolling 37km time trial to La Caverne du Pont-d'Arc on stage 13 (the day after the summit finish at Mont Ventoux), and the mountain time trial to Megève on stage 18. “They don’t frighten me. I hope to take some time on my rivals,” Pinot said.
Pinot now lies second overall at the Tour de Romandie, 23 seconds down on Quintana ahead of Saturday’s demanding stage to Villars. “23 seconds isn’t much and at the same time, it’s a lot,” Pinot said. “I’m already happy to have taken back time on [Ilnur] Zakarin. Why not try to take the stage win and a place on the final podium?”
Gilbert's Giro d'Italia participation in doubt
Philippe Gilbert’s participation in the Giro d’Italia is in doubt as he tries to recover from the broken finger he sustained during an altercation with a motorist a little over three weeks ago.
Gilbert struggled at both Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne before opting out of Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a view to recovering in time to be competitive at the Giro. The BMC man won two stages at last year’s edition of the corsa rosa, at Monte Berico and Verbania.
“We’re still waiting for a medical report from our team doctor Max Testa,” BMC manager Allan Peiper told Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m realistic. I’m sorry for Phil, but with a broken finger, it’s hard to prepare yourself for a difficult race like the Giro – try pushing 1,600 watts with four fingers and one that can’t bend.”
Gilbert has had a complicated 2016 season thus far, crashing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, falling ill at Paris-Nice and then suffering this latest injury on the eve of his main target, the Ardennes Classics.
“Last year, he won two stages in the Giro with a small fracture in his kneecap, but this break is worse than what happened to him last year,” Peiper said, adding that the team would only bring Gilbert to this year’s race if he can be competitive.
“Does it make sense to send him to the Giro to build his form? No. If he goes to the Giro, it’s to win stages. Phil might think otherwise, and then it’s up to us to decide in consultation with him.”
Antwerp wants to host Tour of Flanders start
Antwerp is bidding to host the start of the Tour of Flanders from next year, according to Het Laatste Nieuws. With the contract between current host Bruges and race organiser Flanders Classics up for renewal, Antwerp has put its hat into the ring as a possible replacement.
Bruges’s Grote Markt has hosted the start of the Ronde since 1998, replacing Sint-Niklaas. Talks between the city of Bruges and Flanders Classics to renew the existing deal have already begun, but Antwerp has also been in contact with the race organisers and is reportedly prepared to pay the estimated €200,000 cost of hosting the start of the race.
Antwerp currently hosts the start of another Flanders Classics-organised race, Scheldeprijs.