Mikel Landa has resigned his position as president of the Fundación Euskadi after the UCI judged that his position at the organisation was a conflict of interest due to their sponsorship of the ProTeam Euskaltel-Euskadi.
The Bahrain Victorious rider had taken over position in order to save the organisation in 2017, when the team was still an amateur squad and before they rose up to Continental level the next year.
The team rose to ProTeam status last season and even raced in the same peloton as Landa at the Vuelta a Andalucía and Vuelta a Burgos, though Landa has only now been forced to resign his position.
Landa announced his resignation in a statement released by the Fundación Euskadi on Saturday.
"With the move from the men's team to the UCI ProTeam category, it became clear that my role within the Euskadi Foundation had to change completely, since it could cause incompatibilities that no one wanted.
"Being an active cyclist and competing in events where the Euskaltel-Euskadi team was also present, it was neither prudent nor logical for me to keep my functions at the Foundation.
"Since then, the project has only grown. And it has managed to expand its support for the base with the creation of its own amateur team and a continental team of women. New companies have also opted for the Foundation and all of them must be thanked. All this shows that the current management team is doing a great job and that the Foundation is in the best possible hands.
"However, I consider that the best thing for everyone is that we inform the members and, of course, the media, that I am not part of the decisions of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team.
"I say goodbye, with my heart always orange, Mikel Landa Meana."
Boplan plastic barriers back for Gent-Wevelgem
Gent-Wevelgem, first in line for safer @FlandersClassic races in the future. Thanks for the collab @Boplan. pic.twitter.com/bwLAAKSimXMarch 27, 2021
The plastic barrier, which are softer than traditional metal barriers, don't have outward-facing legs, and are angled to keep spectators at a safe distance, were praised by several riders, including Michael Mørkøv (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) after the race.
"I'm really pleased and happy to see this effort done with the barriers at the finish straight today," Mørkøv wrote on Twitter. "Thank you very much for improving the safety of the riders."
"Let's hope this becomes standard for all finishes," Stuyven added.
On Saturday, Flanders Classics CEO posted photos of the barriers at the finish in Wevelgem ahead of Sunday's races. The barriers will also be used at Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders next week, as well as Scheldeprijs and Brabantse Pijl.
The barriers – which so far have been provided free of charge according to Boplan owner Xavier Ramon – might be seen elsewhere in future, too, with WielerFlits reporting that both the UCI and Tour de France organisers ASO have contacted the company.
€250 fine for fans attending the Tour of Flanders
With strict COVID-19 measures in place in Belgium – much like the rest of Europe – the Tour of Flanders will once again be without fans, following on from races held throughout the 2021 season so far.
The start and finish line, climbs and cobbled sectors at the race have been sealed off from fans, and anyone attending the race will face a fine, said Van Cauter.
"We've done work in depth so you can't get [to those areas] at all," she told Sporza. "Additional commercial activities are prohibited and if you live or work along the route you must wear a mask.
"There will be enforcement. The fines are not small – an immediate out-of-court settlement of at least €250. And don't forget that we are talking about a police ordinance from the governor. If you get out of hand, you risk being summoned to appear before the criminal court. Be warned."
Van Cauter ruled out a possible cancellation or postponement of the race – as Paris-Roubaix could be facing – but only if fans stay home to watch. Police co-ordinator Alexander De Baets added that nobody is thinking about that scenario given the positive outcome of last October's race.
"It remains a matter of waiting," he said. "But because we did so well in October, there was little doubt that the race would not go ahead.
"The fact that there is no public presence is also partly for the health of the riders. But you also don't want to be the one event where COVID-19 problems arise. That's why we have to be so strict."
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