Wanty-Groupe Gobert wins the UCI Europe Tour
The UCI Europe Tour came to a conclusion on Sunday at the Chrono des Nations, where Team Sky's Vasil Kiryienka took top honours on the day, while Wanty-Groupe Gobert sealed the overall series win in the team rankings. Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) was the top individual rider ahead of Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems Cycling Team) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF).
Wanty-Groupe Gobert took a dozen wins on the year, starting with Enrico Gasparatto's victory at Amstel Gold. The team took its final win of the season earlier this month at the Nationale Sluitingprijs-Putte-Kapellen in Belgium, where Roy Jans celebrated victory.
"We are pleased to see that our team continues to grow up," said team manager Jean-François Bourlar. "In 2016, we achieved 12 wins with seven different riders. One of those victories was the Amstel Gold Race. The Europe Tour is the icing on the cake. It was an exceptional season and we congratulate all the riders and staff for the regularity during the eight-month competition."
The series win was a bright spot for the team, which also had to deal with the tragic death of Antoine Demoitié, who died from injuries suffered in a crash during Gent-Wevelgem.
"It took a lot of courage and strength after the death of Antoine to focus again on cycling," sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren. "We will continue to ride the next seasons for Antoine, his wife Astrid and his family."
2016 UCI Europe Tour Top 10
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Wanty - Groupe Gobert (Belgium)||3015||pts|
|2||Direct Energie (France)||2966|
|3||Cofidis, Solutions Credits (France)||2953|
|4||Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spain)||2683|
|5||Wallonie Bruxelles - Group Protect (Belgium)||2469|
|6||Bardiani CSF (Italy)||2244|
|7||Eranda's Willems Cycling Team (Belgium)||2201|
|8||Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec (Italy)||2109|
|9||Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise (Belgium)||2038|
|10||Bora-Argon 18 (Germany)||1930|
Walscheid wins stage 3 in Hainan, takes overall lead
Twenty-three-year-old German sprinter Max Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) took his first pro win and seized the lead at the Tour of Hainan on Monday, outsprinting Team Roth's Andrea Pasqualon and RTS-Monton Racing's Tino Thömel in the bunch gallop. Walscheid finished second on the opening stage and fourth during stage 2 before Monday's win.
"I am really happy with my first victory," Walscheid said. "The objective for today was to set up the sprint for me. It was again a long stage and we took our responsibility to control the peloton.
"In the finale, we nearly got boxed in, however the guys brought me in a good position," he said. "I managed to stay calm and the lead-out was perfect. It is a nice feeling to win the stage after being two times close to the win, and a difficult year for me mentally."
Walscheid was one of six Giant-Alpecin riders who were hit by a car that drove into on-coming traffic while they were training in Spain in January. He has just 27 race days on his calendar after returning to competition at the end of May. This year is his first full season with the German team after signing on as a trainee in August of 2015.
Walscheid now leads Rafael Andriato (Wilier-Southeast) and Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana Pro Team) by six seconds, with Astana's Alexey Lutsenko seven seconds back, and Lampre-Merida's Roberto Ferrari eight seconds in arrears.
"I am now the leader in the overall and points classification, and this result leaves me motivated for the next days of racing."
Giant-Alpecin director Arthur van Dongen said the entire day went to plan for Walscheid and the team.
"We rode on the front to stay out of trouble and our main goal was to focus on a sprint with Max," van Dongen said. "The team did a great lead-out in the finale for him and he managed to take a well-deserved victory. It's his first year as a pro-rider and it's great to take the win after a challenging year. The spirit of the team is good and we will try to keep the jerseys in the team as long as possible."
Andrea Pasqualon, Max Walscheid and Tino Thömel. (Adrian Hoe / Tour of Hainan)
Latexco to continue with Etixx-QuickStep
Longtime sponsor Latexco has signed on for another year with Patrick Lefevere's Etixx-QuickStep squad, heading into its 24th year supporting the Belgian team.
A world leader in the manufacturing of latex components for the bedding industry, the company has seen its share of memorable moments with Lefevere's teams and is hoping the trend continues next year.
"For a company like Latexco, it is important to have a great connection between our product and cycling, a sport which not only that we love, but that is also an important tool for promoting our brand around the world," said Carole Maes, the company's managing director. "We are very proud to be part of this incredible team, who took more than 50 victories in 2016, with the icing on the cake being the gold medal in the World team time trial championships. With this season now over, we are already looking forward to what we hope to be a successful 2017, both for us and the team."
Lefevere was obviously delighted to extend the partnership.
"Latexco is our most faithful sponsor, and I can firmly say that we have a special bond with the Maes family, who's been part of our team for many years now," Lefevere said. "It's very important for Etixx – Quick-Step to know that we can count on reliable and strong sponsors, while at the same time bringing our contribution to their development."
Cycling Academy Team add WorldTour experience to roster with Dennis van Winden signing
Dutchman Dennis van Winden will move to the Israeli Cycling Academy Team next season which is stepping up from Continental to the Pro-Continental level. The 28-year-old spent the last two seasons with LottoNL-Jumbo with a brief spell at Synergy Baku Cycling Project in 2015 having spent eight seasons in the Rabobank set up at both Continental and WorldTour level but was hampered by a lingering right-leg injury.
"I cannot even start to describe how enthusiastic I am," said van Winden. "I will bring my 7 years world pro experience to the team with huge amount of hunger, knowledge and passion and I have zero doubts we will have fun year with all the results we dream about.
"I have been waiting for this opportunity for years. I can't wait to meet my teammates in our first training camp in Israel. I have so much faith that we can fulfil our team's dreams."
With a young team, manager Ran Margaliot explained that van Winden is a key signing for the team and is fine addition for 2017.
"I had quite a few strong and experienced candidates," Margaliot said. "But when I met Dennis, his sheer hunger and passion made me a believer. Although a WorldTour pro, he has more passion and inner drive then younger riders that I met and thats something that fits our team philosophy perfectly."
The team has also signed Australian Zak Dempster for next season with further roster announcements expected in the coming weeks.