World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) stars in the poster for the 70th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, not in his traditional cycling kit but dressed in 18th century garb on horseback. The painting, dubbed "Where Legends Conquer" depicts the Slovakian on a white rearing horse atop a cobbled climb "with an outstretched arm, Peter the Conqueror bravely beckons forward: 'First Kuurne, now the world!'," according to the press release.
The art work closely resembles "Napoleon Crossing the Alps" by French painter Jacques-Louis David.
"The painting symbolizes our home-born passion for cycling. Here at the cradle of the classics. And our pride in announcing the 70th anniversary of the race. The painting is the story of ordinary people," the organisers write. "Hundreds of proud volunteers, who passionately organize a legendary race. Against all odds, often in harsh circumstances, but always with unrelenting willpower. Our team and our unpredictable race embody all of these extraordinary qualities.
"It's the race where multiple disciplines clash. Where the early form is demonstrated. Where sprinter teams desperately try to hold the leash. Where classic riders are always a threat. And where the weather can easily turn the contest into hell on earth. It's the race where only legends conquer."
Sagan won the 2017 edition of the race, besting Jasper Stuyven and Luke Rowe from a five-man breakaway.
Zurlo injured in crash with car
Federico Zurlo, who moved from UAE Team Emirates to the Italian-Romanian Continental squad MsTina-Focus for 2018, was injured in a crash with a car while training in Bassano del Grappa, according to his team.
The 23-year-old avoided fractures, but sustained a head injury and is being kept under observation at the hospital for the next three days.
Zurlo was scheduled to race in the Trofeo Laigueglia, but will now be unable to compete.
Israel Cycling Academy and Aqua Blue Sport secure Amstel Gold wild card invitations
The organisers of the men's Amstel Gold Race have confirmed that Roompot- Nederlandse Loterij, Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Israel Cycling Academy, Aqua Blue Sport and Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise have been given wild card invitations to this year’s one-day Classic in the Netherlands.
The Amstel Gold Race will be held on Sunday, April 15, again kicking off the Ardennes week of racing before Flèche-Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The women’s race will be held on the same day.
The Israel Cycling Academy and Aqua Blue Sport teams replace CCC Sprandi, Direct Energie and Bardiani CSF compared to the 2017 start list. The 18 WorldTour teams are automatically invited to every WorldTour race, with the race organisers able to invite one or further wild card teams.
63km of dirt roads in 2018 Strade Bianche men's route, women face 31.4km
This year's Strade Bianche races will follow the now tradition routes on the rolling dirt roads of southern Tuscany, with men facing 63km and 11 sectors of dirt tracks during their 184km race, while the women race over 136km, with 8 sectors and a total of 31.4km of dirt roads.
Both races will be held on Saturday, March 3, starting in Siena and ending back in the Renaissance hilltop town after a figure of eight loop south towards Montalcino. The only difference to this year’s route come early on; with the Vidritta sector being covered in the opposite direction.
The races end again with the steep climb up to central Siena, with the finish in the Piazza del Campo that also hosts the Palio horse races each summer. Michel Kwiatkowski won the 2017 Strade Bianche and will return on March 3, while Elisa Longo Borghini won the women’s race.
AS in previous years RCS Sport will also organise a Gran Fondo mass-participation event the day after the Strade Bianche races. 5,000 people are expected this year.