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Hello again, CyclingTips readers.
Usually the talk of the town at this time of the year would be all about Strade Bianche – pro cycling’s darling child of the early spring classics. Who would have won? We really have no idea at this time of the season and that’s one of the many special things about Strade Bianche. But as we all know that wasn’t meant to be this year with Coronavirus wreaking havoc on the world, and in this case the Italian cycling calendar. If you feel like you’re missing something special in bike racing, you’re not alone.
But the good news is that the Race to the Sun has begun in its usual ironic fashion, riders have been released from quarantine in UAE, and International Women’s Day is shining the light on some of the great progress happening in our sport.
Until tomorrow, keep the rubber side down.
| Schachmann takes state 1 of Paris-Nice
Maximilian Schachmann (Bora) won the opening stage in the Paris-Nice on Sunday, taking a frantic four-man sprint at the end of a dank day’s racing through northern France.
Schachmann, edged Belgians Dylan Teuns and Tiesj Benoot. Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe was three seconds back in fourth at the finish of a 154-kilometre loop that began and ended in Plaisir on the outskirts of Paris.
Schachmann collected a 10-second bonus for victory and the overall lead.
Paris-Nice stage 1 results
1. Maximilian Schachmann (GER/Bora) 3hr 32min 19sec,
2. Dylan Teuns (BEL/BAH) same time
3. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/SUN) s.t.
You can find the full report here.
| Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ released from Quarantine in UAE, but not Gazprom-Rusvelo?
The Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ contingents that spent the past 10 days in quarantine in Abu Dhabi are finally headed home.
Nathan Haas (Cofidis), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and more than 20 other riders and staff from the two French teams had been confined to the W Hotel on Yas Island since the evening of Thursday, February 28. It was initially announced that the teams would be released on March 14, however two of the three teams were allowed to leave earlier than that following a third round of negative coronavirus tests. However, the status of the Gazprom-Rusvelo team remains unclear.
| Michael Matthews: I’m dreaming of Amstel and Flanders
Michael Matthews made an unplanned outing to race Paris-Nice after the cancellation of Strade Bianche this weekend, and came in 26th place on the first stage.
Matthews told CyclingNews, “There has been a discussion about a plan B because I need to race,” he said. “Missing the Italian races would mean going back to Belgium with all guys, who will already have 10 or so race days, and then things will be pretty difficult for me.”
As for his 2020 season goals he said that Amstel Gold Race is the one he craves the most:
“I think that there’s a couple that mean more to me than just bike races. Amstel Gold is where I had my first date with my now-wife, so that’s obviously a massive one for me, more than just a bike race – a more personal reason.
“I’m totally obsessed with Flanders, so I think that’s another nice one I’d like to do really well in and hopefully be on the podium one of these years. Those two are my biggest ones that I really dream about, I guess.”
| ‘I was so lost I was ready to take the risk’: Marion Sicot on her EPO positive, and alleges abuse by team director
After testing positive for EPO at the French ITT championships in June of 2019, Marion Sicot repeatedly denied doping. In a French television interview on Sunday night, however, the 27-year-old has now opened up about using EPO eight months after blaming her menstrual cycle on the test anomaly.
“I tried to protect myself by lying…but once you tell the truth, you are much better, you manage to sleep better and get up in the morning by being a little more proud of what you have done,” Sicot says, in part of the interview published in L’Équipe.
Sicot also echoed the allegations of American Sara Youmans, claiming that she was asked to send photos of herself in her underwear to Bracke every Monday beginning in November 2018.
In case you missed it
| Kaitie Keough is all-In: Beyond the Comfort Zone
Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld team rider Kaitie Keough has been one of the top female cyclocross racers in not only the United States, but the world. All In: Beyond the Comfort Zone, follows Keough’s season as she travels to Europe and back, along with the mental battle that accompanies being a professional racer. Keough opened up about her struggles with depression in early 2017, and this video is a continuation of her story.
| Women’s Cycling Matters
It’s International Women’s Day and our Editor-in-Chief Caley Fretz describes what he sees happening in the world right now, and what our responsibility is:
“Momentum is something you can feel, if you pay attention. You can feel it building, feel acceleration transform into permanence. This, I hope and I believe, is where women’s cycling is right now. A state of building momentum, reaching towards inevitability.”
| Getting a PlayStation past the UAE Tour hotel quarantine
Late last week, both Groupama-FDJ and Cofidis were expecting to be under lockdown in their rooms at the W Hotel in Abu Dhabu until March 14. They were staring down the barrel at another full week with nothing to do and nowhere to go, but, lucky for them, they had friends on the outside.
Last Thursday, Groupama pro Ramon Sinkeldam put out a plea on Twitter: He really, really wanted a PlayStation and FIFA 2020. That caught the eye of YouTuber Bas Tietama, who set about figuring out how to make it happen. It took the help of a local bike shop and a bit of sneaky packaging to get the Playstation through. See the video here.
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Today’s featured image of the the empty roads of Strade Bianche by Kristof Ramon.