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  1. 2018 season will be the last for Jeremy Roy - News Shorts

    Loyal to FDJ for 16 years, Jérémy Roy announced today that 2018 will be his last season in the pro cycling peloton, according to a press release from the team.

    "It never is a simple choice, but I've decided 2018 will be my last season," Roy said. "I am proud to belong to the category of the 'One-team men' since team FDJ accompanied me throughout my whole career."

    Roy, 34, has raced with the French team since 2003. In his career he has won wages at Paris-Nice and Tour du Limousin, as well as one-day races Grand Prix D'ouverture La Marseillaise and Tro-bro Léon, all in France. Roy has competed in nine Tours de France going back to 2008. He did not compete in the Tour last year, racing his second Giro d'Italia instead.

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    "It is not time now to speak of career-change plans or to schedule any 'last day' date because, before that, I still have great races to ride and big objectives to fulfil with my teammates," he said.

    Roy started this season at Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise, Etoile de Bessèges and La Provence. Next up for Roy is Strade Bianche.

    Registration open for L’Etape California

    Registration is now open for L’Etape California by Le Tour de France, a mass-participation ride starting from Folsom, California, on Sunday, September 2 of Labor Day Weekend. The weekend starts on Saturday with French food, sights, appearances from cycling legends and family cycling fun – followed by the L’Etape ride on Sunday.

    Rally Cycling ready for weekend double-header in France

    Quick-Step Floors for l'Ardche and Royal Bernard

    Vote online for favourite Vuelta a Espana summit finish

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. Gilbert points to Molenberg as key climb in new Omloop het Nieuwsblad course

    "Time flies…time flies." Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) wondered where a decade had gone as he looked ahead to Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

    The race holds a special place in the Belgian's heart as his first Classics victory, way back in 2006. He won it again in 2008 and, after his spectacular re-emergence as a cobbled Classics rider last year, he has the chance to take a record-tying third on Saturday. 

    Since then, Gilbert has built a mighty palmarès, with two titles at Il Lombardia and one each at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Tour of Flanders, to mention just the Monuments. It also contains Amstel Gold Race times four, La Flèche Wallonne, Paris-Tours and, of course, the World Championships.

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    It's the missing Monuments that Gilbert now covets most; Milan-San Remo and Paris-Roubaix are needed for the complete set. Given they are still a few weeks down the line, he was cautious when asked about his Omloop chances at Quick-Step Floors' pre-race press conference on Friday.

    "Back then it was different, I knew I had little chance of winning Flanders or a big classic so I tried to advance my form because it was more realistic to win a race of 200km than a race of 260km," he said, referring to his past victories.

    "Now things have changed. I've had to learn to hold off on my form a bit over the last years and put more of an accent on the later races.

    'It's the first race in Belgium, it's always important'

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. Viviani consolidates points lead as Abu Dhabi summit finish looms

    Sprinters hold the top-seven general classification spots after three stages at the Abu Dhabi Tour, with Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) leading Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) by three seconds, and the rest grouped in ones and twos behind.

    Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) breaks up the sprint party in eighth place, 10 seconds back, and Saturday's time trial should shine even more light on the final general classification outcome and provide a buffer for the specialists. The big test will be Sunday's climb to Jebel Hafeet, an 11km ascent that averages 6.6 percent gradient and reaches 11 percent in spots.

    Kristoff won the opening sprint and held the lead for a day before Viviani won stage 2 in Yas Beach and seized the leader's jersey. The Italian finished fourth to Bauhaus on stage 3 to keep the overall lead, but more importantly, Viviani won the second intermediate sprint of the day at 82km and took a commanding lead in the points classification, a prize he'll hope to keep as others set their sights on the GC.

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    "I am satisfied after these flat stages, because I have the leader's jersey and a hefty advantage in the green jersey classification, thanks to three top-five placings and today's intermediate sprint. Now I'll go full gas in the time trial and then try to help our GC guys on the fifth stage."

    Friday's 133km stage from Nation Towers to Big Flag, although flat, was not a straightforward affair once crosswinds blew things apart after the second intermediate sprint with about 40km remaining. Viviani took the sprint and then made the first group once crosswinds tore into the peloton. several teams tried to open a workable gap in the winds, but the race came back together when the wind changed direction, blowing into a hard head wind.

    From there the sprinters' team picked up the chase, with Quick-Step sending James Knox up to marshal the team's interests at the tip of the spear until the sprint trains started jostling for position inside 10km to go.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Van Avermaet: It's more difficult for me without Sagan

    While almost all the world's top Classics riders are in Belgium this weekend for Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, there's one glaring absentee in Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Some might breathe a sigh of relief at not having to work out how to beat the three-time world champion, but for Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) it's the opposite.

    Sagan won Kuurne last year and finished on the podium at the past two editions of Omloop, but has decided to plot his route to the spring differently this year, training at altitude in Spain before resuming racing at Strade Bianche.

    For Van Avermaet, who has beaten Sagan to the top step of those last two Omloop podiums, the 'opening weekend' remains an important step on his calendar, but he says his chances of a record third title are made harder – not easier – by his rival's absence.

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    "For me, it's not an advantage that Peter is not here. I like to race with Peter. He opens up the race and rides with me full gas," Van Avermaet said at BMC's pre-race press conference in Sint-Martens-Latem on Friday.

    "It's strange to say, but sometimes it's easier to have a guy like that next to you, rather than being the favourite everyone is looking at. So it's going to be more difficult, I think."

    With wins at Omloop, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem, and Paris-Roubaix last spring, Van Avermaet shook off the last remaining vestiges of his 'nearly man' reputation, and indeed he'll be a marked man. The theme of that 2017 Classics campaign was early aggression and open, selective racing, and Van Avermaet's hoping his new status doesn't change that.

    Muur-Bosberg

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Dowsett settles into new role in Kittel lead-out train

    During his time at Movistar, Alex Dowsett’s strengths as a rouleur meant that he was often placed on bodyguard duty on flat stages, shielding and shepherding men like Nairo Quintana in the body of the peloton.

    At Katusha-Alpecin, the Briton’s characteristics are proving just as useful, albeit deployed in a rather different manner, as part of the lead-out train of fellow new arrival Marcel Kittel. Dowsett’s ability to hold top-end speed means that he plays a role towards the front on the run-in, but Marco Haller et al step up to the plate to pilot Kittel into the finish straight.

    “I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve got a really cool job, it’s something to really work hard towards, although it’s a bit of a shock to the system being back in a lead-out,” Dowsett said at the Abu Dhabi Tour this week. “They’ve changed a lot in the last five years. Now everyone can lead out, but no single team can control by themselves, so it’s more about trying to look after the team, while saving a bit of energy for the end, when every team just opens the taps. It’s just frighteningly fast in the last 3k.”

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    Kittel’s early outings for Katusha have not worked out quite as planned, though there were encouraging signs aplenty in his second place finish on stage 3 on Friday. 24 hours earlier, Dowsett and his red guard were very much to the fore when the peloton swung into crosswinds in the final hour of stage 2, and they briefly helped to split the race into three echelons.

    “We all knew there was a possibility of crosswind stuff, and when everybody knows there’s a possibility of crosswind stuff, then there’s crosswind stuff,” Dowsett said. “We wanted to be on the front going into it in case it happened and then we went. All bar one of us were there, which is great for morale, so it was a productive day even though it came back together.”

    Dowsett might enjoy a productive day of his own on stage 4, a pan-flat 12.6km time trial at Al Maryah Island, though he dismissed the idea that he might have been given licence to save his legs during Friday’s stage.

    Classics

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  6. Bauhaus lays foundations with Abu Dhabi Tour victory

    Phil Bauhaus wasn't being rude when he gazed off over the heads of the journalists who gathered around him in the press tent after stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour, he simply wanted to get a proper look at his win on the television screen positioned over their shoulders.

    The Sunweb sprinter had every reason to squint carefully at the images, given that his victory was by the tightest of margins in a blanket finish against his fellow Germans Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) and Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), and race leader Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors).

    It took a careful examination of the photo finish before the race jury ruled that Bauhaus had won the stage by mere millimetres from Kittel. Both men had celebrated cautiously past the line without knowing for sure, and Bauhaus had then been whisked off for the podium ceremonies without having a chance to review the footage for himself.

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    "I wasn't sure if I had won or not, I just saw it was really, really close. Especially with Kittel coming from behind, he was really fast and – sorry, I'm just seeing it a bit on TV now – it was really close," Bauhaus said. He continued to speak as he watched another replay.

    "I came in good position behind Viviani through the last corner, I could start my sprint from his wheel. I'm just seeing it – it was really close – but it makes me really proud to take the win, especially with all the big names here. It's a super, super nice one."

    Still only 23 years of age, Bauhaus is in his fourth season as a professional and his second with Sunweb, after two campaigns with Bora-Hansgrohe. He announced his arrival at WorldTour level with a fine win at the Critérium du Dauphiné last year, but while the Abu Dhabi Tour lacks the prestige of the French race, the quality of the sprint field in the Middle East means that his second top-flight triumph may carry even greater cachet.

    German sprinters

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  7. Kittel: Today was the first day where I felt normal again

    Marcel Kittel’s broad smile was already growing a little more uneasy by the time a group of reporters gathered around the German sprinter in the moments after stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

    After a frustrating start to life in the red and white of Katusha-Alpecin, Kittel was convinced that his fortunes had turned in the most dramatic fashion thanks to a breathless comeback in the closing metres at Al Marina.

    Four sprinters dived for the line simultaneously, and though picking a winner on first glance was an impossibility, Kittel’s instincts told him that he had won the day. He punched the air accordingly as he wheeled to a halt, though he must have noticed that Phil Bauhaus was accepting high fives from his Sunweb teammates a little further back the road. One of them could not be wrong.

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    Word soon reached Kittel that the commissaires would need to review the photo finish before declaring a winner, though the mood among his Katusha-Alpecin teammates remained buoyant. Soon afterwards, however, a doleful shake of the head from his soigneur signalled the final decision: Kittel had been edged into second place by his fellow German Bauhaus.

    On the same finish a year ago, Kittel had slipped past an already celebrating Caleb Ewan to claim the stage. “Now I know how he felt,” Kittel said to his teammates as he smiled in disbelief. “I really thought I had it. I want to see the photo.”

    Before Kittel could review the footage, he was waylaid by the waiting troupe of reporters, and he stressed that there were positives to be drawn even from this disappointment. After failing to make any impact in the bunch finishes on the opening two days of the Abu Dhabi Tour, his sprint here was, by some distance, his best in Katusha colours.

    Building a train

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  8. Abu Dhabi Tour: Stage 3 highlights - Video

    Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb) took some big scalps with a surprise victory on stage 3 of the Abu Dhabi Tour. The German had to be separated from compatriot Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) by a photo finish, but was eventually declared the winner.

    That makes it three different winners from the first three stages in Abu Dhabi and Bauhaus’ victory was his and his team’s first of the season. They will be looking for another one on Saturday with Tom Dumoulin and Wilco Kelderman in the time trial.

    The third stage of the Abu Dhabi Tour saw four riders make it up the road in the early kilometres. Marco Maronese (Bardiani CSF), Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Pierre Rolland (EF Education First-Drapac) and Sam Brand (Team Novo Nordisk) jumped clear but were never given much room to manoeuvre. Despite a last-ditch attack from Rolland, the quartet was brought back with 50 kilometres still on the clock.

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    A flurry of action ended up with Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) crashing, but he was ultimately OK and the peloton eventually sat back and waited for the finale. The big, wide roads gave the sprinters plenty of space to do their thing and it was Bauhaus that came out on top by the Big Flag.

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    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  9. Klier: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is all about suffering

    On Saturday, February 24 and Sunday 25, Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the men’s races at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, from start to finish, here.

    Sep Vanmarcke will lead the line for EF Education First-Drapac into the opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

    The 29-year-old Classics specialist won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2012 and after his last spring campaign was hampered by illness, the Belgian will be hoping for better luck.

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    Guiding him and the rest of the American team will be Andreas Klier. The German directeur sportif raced Omloop Het Nieuwslbad 16 times as a professional and has built a reputation as one of the most astute directors in the convoy.

    “This race is all about suffering, often in bad weather, alongside a nervous peloton, but at the end of the day, it is one of the few northern Classics with a long tradition and it’s a beauty of a race,” he said in a statement issued by the team.

    Vanmarcke already has 10 days of racing in his legs after racing in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and the Ruta del Sol. He will be supported by an experienced squad and is looking forward to going up against the likes of Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  10. Mark Cavendish on course for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo despite Abu Dhabi crash

    Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) remains likely to participate at both Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo despite suffering a concussion when he crashed in the neutralised zone of stage 1 of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

    Although Cavendish remounted and returned to the peloton, his injuries were such that he was forced to abandon after five kilometres and travel directly to hospital, where he was diagnosed with concussion and whiplash injury to his neck. As per normal protocol following a concussion, Cavendish was unable to fly in the 48 hours following the crash, but he is expected to leave Abu Dhabi on Friday or Saturday.

    “This morning Mark still had some concussive symptoms,” Dimension Data doctor Adrian Rotunno told Cyclingnews in Abu Dhabi on Friday. “He’s still got a headache. His neck is very stiff and his balance is still a little bit off, which are all classic symptoms of a concussion, so we’re just monitoring him and keeping him in a cool, calm quiet environment to leave him recover. We’ll send him home either later today or tomorrow to fully recover.”

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    The Abu Dhabi Tour was to be the third installment of Cavendish’s miniature ‘Grand Tour’ of the Middle East, following his participation at the Dubai Tour and the Tour of Oman. Tirreno-Adriatico, which gets underway on March 7, is the next race on the Manxman’s schedule, and Rotunno said that his participation is more likely than not at this juncture.

    “It’s more likely that he will be [able to ride Tirreno-Adriatico], but the key is managing it properly now so that he can be ready, otherwise the symptoms can go on, sometimes for months. So the key is to manage it properly now so that he can recover for San Remo,” Rotunno said.

    “In the acute phase, you have to let the rider rest and not to have over-stimulation in any form, and that includes exercise, sunlight, screen time and television time. The normal protocol is at least a week off training to let the brain fully recover. Provided he’s got no more symptoms, then he can start to build up in a gradual way, and get back to normal again in a week. If he passes his neuro-cognitive testing, he should be back within 10 days.”

    Rapid diagnosis

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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