Following his eight-day stint in the Tour de France maillot jaune, Belgian Greg Van Avermaet will lead the BMC Racing Team at the one-day Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian on Saturday.
Van Avermaet has never won the race, but was second in 2011 to Philippe Gilbert after the disqualification of Carlos Barredo, and was en route to victory in 2015 when a television motorbike knocked him off the road.
BMC's directeur sportif Allan Peiper has confidence that Van Avermaet has the form after the Tour de France to go for a good result in the hilly 229km WorldTour race.
"We'll have a strong team around Greg on Saturday, including Simon Gerrans and Michael Schär, who are also coming out of the Tour de France. I think everyone will be ready to support Greg to go for a good result," Peiper said.
Van Avermaet modestly said he hopes for a top 10 finish.
"I was happy with my form at the Tour de France and I had some nice results, so I'm going into the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian feeling motivated to do a good race. It's a challenging course, but I like it, and that style suits me, so if my shape is good, another top 10 finish would be great," Van Avermaet said.
BMC Racing Team for the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian: Patrick Bevin, Simon Gerrans, Michael Schär, Miles Scotson, Greg Van Avermaet, Francisco Ventoso, Loïc Vliegen.
Alaphilippe, Jungels head Quick-Step Floors in San Sebastian
Hot off his mountains classification victory at the Tour de France, Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe will lead the Quick-Step Floors squad at Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian. He will be joined by Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels, fresh off his strong performance at the Tour, where he finished 11th overall.
The 229km race heats up in the final 100km with the dual ascents of the Jaizkibel (8.3km, 5.3%) and Arkale (2.6km, 6.3%), followed by the decisive ascent of the Murgil Tontorra (1.8km, 11.5%) with 8km to go.
It is a course that suits Alaphilippe's characteristics, but he has only raced here twice: his best finish was 8th place in 2015.
Directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters hopes to have several riders in the mix in the finale.
"Julian and Bob have enjoyed an impressive Tour de France, and they could be in contention. The rest of the team will come across from Wallonie, where they rode a strong race and were always up there, so the signs are good, especially as they all came after an altitude training camp. It's never easy to win a race, and this one is no exception, especially with the depth of the field, but we are going to the start very motivated and confident," Peeters said.
Quick-Step Floors for the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian: Julian Alaphilippe, Kasper Asgreen, Rémi Cavagna, Bob Jungels, James Knox, Jhonnatan Narvaez, Pieter Serry.
Dan Martin aiming high in San Sebastian
The UAE Team Emirates squad for this weekend's Clasica San Sebastian will be led by Dan Martin, who was awarded the overall most combative prize in the Tour de France and finished eighth overall.
Directeur sportif Joxean Matxin also included Diego Ulissi and Kristijan Durasek among the squad's riders to watch.
"For lots of riders, the Clasica San Sebastian is an opportunity to take advantage of the physical conditioning they've gained at the Tour de France," Matxin said. "Our line-up will be made up of two riders who have raced in La Grande Boucle: Daniel Martin, who was always brilliant and combative in France, and Kristijan Durasek, who was consistent on the French climbs.
"Diego Ulissi also has the skills to be an important rider in this race, and recently at the RideLondon-Surrey Classic he proved to be in top form. The competition is going to be fierce; it will be essential to make it to the final in a good position and with enough energy left to spend on what, in these last few years, has turned out to be the crucial part of the route: the climb on Murgil Tontorra, coming off the back with 8km to go to the finish line."
UAE Team Emirates for the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian: Kristijan Durasek, Vegard Stake Laengen, Daniel Martin, Manuele Mori, Jan Polanc, Aleksandr Riabushenko, Diego Ulissi.
Trainees and transfers
Team LottoNL-Jumbo have announced the signing of Jonas Vingegaard to a two-year contract. The 21-year-old Danish climber has been tracked by the WorldTour squad's scouts and will go into the team's development pipeline.
"Our ambition is to have the world's greatest talents in our team. We have followed and tested Jonas extensively, and he's been discussed by our scouting team. We believe he has a bright future. Like all our talents, Jonas will get a long-term development plan. We will guide him intensively," said directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman.
Vingegaard called the move a dream come true: "I am really looking forward continuing my development at a professional cycling team like this. Team LottoNL-Jumbo is the right choice for me in the way they are focusing on the process and not only on the results. I hope that I can contribute to the team's future success. Meanwhile, it has been amazing being a part of ColoQuick. I couldn't have achieved this without them."
Astana announced the addition of Danish rider Jonas Gregaard Wilsly, 22, as a trainee. Wilsly will race the Vuelta a Burgos, Brussels Cycling Classic, GP de Fourmies, Tre Valli Varesine, Milano-Torino and Gran Piemonte.
Wilsly comes from the Riwal CeramicSpeed Team, and recently took third overall in the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d'Aosta Mont Blanc. Last year he won the overall Kreiz Breizh Elites.
Quick-Step Floors announced the addition of Mikkel Frølich Honoré and Barnabás Peák as trainees. The 21-year-old Dane and 19-year-old Hungarian were scouted by Quick-Step Floors trainer Koen Pelgrim.
"Both Mikkel and Barnabás are talented and strong all-rounders, and riders who can do a bit of everything: climb, put in a solid sprint or do a good time trial," Pelgrim said. "We tested them in the past and could see they have a strong engine, possess a lot of power and are very versatile. The plan is to give them the chance to learn from the pros and provide them with a few opportunities to show themselves, and not just ride at the front from kilometre zero. I'm confident they'll have no problems fitting into the team and will feel at home here."
Frølich took a solo victory at the Circuit de Wallonie and had top 10 results in the U23 Classics Gent-Wevelgem, Ronde van Vlaanderen, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Piccolo Giro di Lombardia, but his season was interrupted by a broken scaphoid.
"I hope I can find the race speed during August and arrive in top shape to help the team and prove myself," he said. "I can't wait to get out there and learn a lot about race tactics and winning races."
Peák caught the team's attention by winning his national time trial championship and a third place overall at the Vuelta al Bidasoa.
"It was my dream since I started cycling to see if I could join a WorldTour team one day, but I never thought it would be the best team in the world. I can't wait to race in the Quick-Step Floors jersey. When I attended the team's training camp last December, I was a bit nervous, with all the big riders and very professional staff, but they immediately made me feel welcome, so I can't wait to rejoin them," Peák said.
"I certainly hope to learn a lot, especially about race tactics, for which I think Quick-Step Floors is the best team to learn from. I will be there to do my best, to show what I am capable of, ride for the team or try myself if I get the chance."
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