News shorts: Boekmans happy with return to peloton

Kris Boeckmans was thrilled to finish 145th in the Handzame Classic, 50 seconds down on winner Erik Baska (Tinkoff). It was the first race back for the Lotto-Soudal rider after suffering terrible injuries in a crash at last year’s Vuelta a Espana.

"I was able to finish the race. My goal has been achieved.”

“You can not believe how lucky I am to be back as a rider. I also got a lot of applause,” he told the Belga news agency. “People called my name after the finish. I like it. "

But the public recogniztion wasn't the only benefit. "It did a lot for me to once again participate in a competition. Lots of riders came to me to ask how it went and many of them were pleased that I was back in the peloton.”

From here, the Belgian will travel to Spain for the Volta a Catalunya. “I will first just start in the first stage and then we'll see how many days I stay in the race.”

Baska wins Handzame for Tinkoff 

Erik Baska took his first win for Team Tinkoff in a big way on Friday, sprinting to the win in the Handzame Classic. He credited not only his own hard work but also that of his teammates, as well as the team “for giving me the opportunity to be the leader for this race.”

“The race was pretty hectic but I had really good legs and a good position in the finish. Michael Kolar brought me into around 10th to 15th wheel with about 500m to go and from there I told him that I would go on my own, up the left as there was more space there.” he said on the team’s website. “I started to sprint with around 200 to 250m to go and had enough speed that I knew I had it in the last 50m.”

The 22-year-old Slovakian said that “I started racing in Dubai and then was in Langkawi so I've got some good racing in the legs, and this win will hopefully give me the confidence I need to keep stepping up."

Hofland last minute DNS in Milan-San Remo 

The various illnesses making the rounds of the peloton have made an impact on the Milan-San Remo starting lineup. The last to be dropped from the start list was LottoNL-Jumbo’s sprinter Moreno Hofland.

The team announced less than two hours before the race start that he would not take the start “due to illness”.

Eisel returns in Catalunya

Bernhard Eisel will return to racing at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, following a broken collarbone suffered in the Dubai Tour. The Austrian will be part of the Team Dimension Data line-up in Spain.

In its Catalunya debut, the South African team will look to climbers Merhawi Kudus, Omar Fraile and Igor Anton. All rounders Cameron Meyer and Kanstantsin Siutsou are veterans of this race, and the squad is rounded out by Johann van Zyl and Adrien Niyonshuti.

“It is mainly a hilly course and we have a team suited for the terrain with Merhawi, Anton, Siutsou and Omar, while the other guys will provide strong support,” said DS Alex Sans Vega. “A stage win will be our major focus and if the circumstances are in our favour, and the riders have the legs for a top 10 GC result, we will support this.

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