Sepulveda signs for Movistar
Eduardo Sepulveda has put pen to paper on a contract with Movistar, team manager Eusebio Unzue has told the Basque website Zikloland. Unzue, says the report, has been keen to get Sepulveda on the books for two seasons, but has only now managed to bring the Argentinian over to the squad.
Sepulveda turned professional with Bretagne-Seche Environnement in 2013, after a spell at the UCI’s World Cycling Centre and riding as a stagiaire with FDJ in 2012, and has remained with the team ever since. The 26-year-old is a promising prospect, but has not yet reached his full potential with the French Pro Continental squad. His biggest win to date is a stage of his home race the Tour de San Luis.
He has suffered several injuries during his career, including a fractured fibia that ended his 2015 season prematurely. A month after scoring that victory in San Luis, Sepulveda was side-lined for three months after breaking his wrist and being knocked unconscious when a barrier was blown into him by high winds. “I don’t know what to think, the bad luck follows me,” he said at the time.
Sepulveda will likely be utilised as mountain support for the team’s leaders Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana – and perhaps Mikel Landa if the reports of his move to the team are confirmed.
Zubeldia bows out
Trek-Segafredo's Haimar Zubeldia brought down the curtain on his 20-year career at Clasica San Sebastian by helping teammate Bauke Mollema to finish third in the defence of his title. Zubeldia crossed the line in 29th place, taking time over the finish line to soak in the occasion.
The 40-year-old, who first rode the race in 1998, was feted on the podium and explained his emotions.
"Today one dream has come true: this is where I always dreamed to finish my career. I tried to enjoy the whole day. There were a lot of supporters the whole way, this is my home race," said Zubeldia. "It feels a little strange. I know this is my last race, but honestly, I don’t feel like it is the last race. I think I need more time for it to sink in and for me to realize it and really enjoy this day."
Initially left off the Tour de France squad, Zubeldia was a late call up to the French Grand Tour after Andre Cardoso tested positive for EPO. His appearance ensures he finishes his career with 16 starts and 15 complete Tours including five top-10 results.
Although Mollema was the defending champion at San Sebastian, which would normally earn him the honour of wearing the number one dossard for the race, Zubeldia was allowed to ride with it to mark his final race.
Turning professional in 1998 with Euskaltel–Euskadi, Zubeldia stayed with the Basque team until 2009 when he joined Astana for one season. He then moved to the RadioShack team where he remained despite the management and sponsorship changes. The 2000 Euskal Bizikleta and 2010 Tour de l'Ain were the only races he won during his long career.
Gougeard takes La Poly Normande victory
AG2R-La Mondiale's Alexis Gougeard enjoyed his first victory in almost two years by winning La Poly Normande, part of the French Cup season-long series. The 24-year-old took the win three seconds ahead of a chase group lead by FDJ's Johan Le Bon.
Gougeard had been aggressive at the recent Tour de Wallonie where he won the KOM jersey. He explained having been frustrating with missing a win at the Belgian race, and was thrilled to enjoy a victory on home roads.
"It has been almost two years since I have had the chance to raise my arms in victory (Eurométropole Tour on September 10, 2015). And to have this victory at the Polynormande, in my home region, makes me very happy with my day," he said.
"I felt that I was going well all week at the Tour de Wallonie, but I hadn't managed to translate that into a result. It's been a long time. I missed not winning, not being a main player in a race, and above all enjoying the bike. I have felt better since the French Championships."
Gougeard missed the Tour de France in July, having made his debut last year, as he focuses on a return to the Vuelta a Espana where he won a stage in 2015. Gougeard also outlined his race schedule ahead of the Spanish Grand Tour.
"I did not race the Tour de France, but I trained hard during the month of July. Now I am going to be starting the BinckBank Tour (August 7 - 13) and the Vuelta (August 19 - September 10)," he said. "I still have a bit of work to do, but I am confident for what's to come."
Matthews third again at RideLondon Classic
Michael Matthews, a two-time stage winner and the green jersey victor at the Tour de France, had to settle for third place for the second year running at the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. The Team Sunweb rider ended Peter Sagan's green jersey reign at the Tour in July and started the one-day race as a favourite for the victory.
Despite trying to make the race as hard as possible to drop the other sprinters, Matthews explained he wasn't feeling at the same level as the Tour and was suffering throughout the 185km of racing. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) and Magnus Cort (Orica-Scott) proved to have better legs on the day and finished ahead of Matthews on the podium.
"To be honest I felt really bad out there all day. It was not my best day on the bike; I couldn't do anything. I tried to have an easy week after the Tour and I wanted to be really good this weekend, but I guess I've still got it in my legs," said Matthews. "The team was still able to deliver me to the front which was nice. We stuck to the plan and in the end third was all we could get."
Team Sunweb coach Rudi Kemna added that while the team was chasing the victory, he was satisfied to have seen his riders give it their all.
"It was good team work all day from everyone. We controlled things throughout the day and helped with the chase of the break," Kemna said. "Michael always had a rider with him which was a great situation and everyone up in 100 percent for our goal. In the end it was a good result which we can be happy with."
In 2016, Matthews enjoyed a month off racing after the RideLondon-Surrey Classic before resuming his season at the Bretagne Classic Ouest-France. However, with the World Championships taking place three-weeks earlier, the 26-year-old could be back racing sooner than the August 27 Bretagne Classic Ouest-France.