Vandenbergh is retiring, Qhubeka-Assos adds more talent: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

We close out the week with more signings for Qhubeka-Assos, a statement from Rapha on Chloé Dygert, and a retirement announcement from a Classics veteran with 27 career starts in the Monuments, among other things.

Read on for the latest from the cycling world.

Dane Cash,
News Editor

What’s News

| Stijn Vandenbergh is retiring

Stijn Vandenbergh has confirmed that he is retiring after a decade and a half in the pro peloton. The 36-year-old Belgian has reportedly told Het Laatste Nieuws, “I flipped the switch in my head: It’s done.”

Vandenbergh enjoyed a lengthy career as a Classics specialist, making 27 Monument starts over the years. He was a key part of Omega Pharma-Quick-Step’s Classics lineups while a member of that team from 2012 to 2016, riding to top 5s at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3, Gent-Wevelgem, and the Tour of Flanders during his tenure there. Since 2017, he has ridden for Ag2r-La Mondiale.

Vandenbergh said earlier in November that he had been hoping to continue for one more Classics campaign, but that there would apparently not be a place for him at Ag2r. On Friday, he confirmed that he would be hanging up the wheels, having not found another ride for 2021.

| Rapha says Chloé Dygert’s apology is “not sufficient”

In an e-mail sent to customers, Rapha has said that Chloé Dygert “has made very serious errors of judgment, which were compounded by an apology she issued that was not sufficient.”

Dygert, who won the world time trial title in Yorkshire last year, recently signed with Canyon-SRAM team, which counts Rapha as clothing partner. After the signing announcement, Dygert said in a post on Instagram that she was “committed to promoting diversity, inclusion and equality in cycling and our wider communities,” apologizing “to those who I offended or hurt by my conduct on social media.” The apology was presumably in reference to things Dygert had “liked” on Twitter in the past, which, according to screen shots from other Twitter users, included a transphobic tweet and a tweet saying “white privilege doesn’t exist.”

Following Dygert’s recent Instagram post, Canyon-SRAM published a post of its own, saying that the team and “all of its members stand by a number of values, including treating all people with respect and dignity regardless of gender, color, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

On Friday, Rapha made its own statement in a message emailed to customers, saying that the brand was “writing to you today to clarify our position on the actions of new Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Chloé Dygert who, back in June, endorsed racist and transphobic views on social media. Rapha wholeheartedly condemns these actions as they were offensive, divisive and have no place in cycling or society.”

Rapha went on to say that it does “believe that Chloé has the capacity and the will to listen, learn and to change,” and that the Canyon-SRAM team “is engaging with an external Diversity & Inclusion consultant in order to develop a comprehensive programme of diversity and inclusion training that focuses on dialogue and education.”

| Qhubeka-Assos signs Wisniowski, Bennett, and Vacek

The NTT team that will become Qhubeka-Assos in 2021 announced on Friday that it had signed Karel Vacek, Sean Bennett, and Lukasz Wisniowski for next season.

Vacek, 20, is a promising up-and-comer who put together a strong resume as a junior and spent the 2020 season with Colpack Ballan after riding for Hagens Berman Axeon in 2019. Bennett, 24, collected a handful of strong results as an under-23 racer and then made the jump from Hagens Berman Axeon to EF in 2019. Wisniowski, 28, spent the last two years with CCC after stints at Etixx-Quick-Step and then Sky. With an Omloop Het Nieuwsblad runner-up ride on his career palmares, he will likely be a key member of Qhubeka’s Classics squad next year.

| Van Aert and Kopecky win awards

Wout van Aert has been named Flandrien of the Year and Lotte Kopecky has been named Flandrienne of the Year, annual honors awarded by Het Nieuwsblad.

For Van Aert, 2020 marks the second year in a row that he has won the title. The 26-year-old put together an impressive season this year, with victories at Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, two Tour de France stage wins, and a successful Belgian national time trial title defense among his many accomplishments.

Kopecky’s win is her first. The 25-year-old defended her national time trial title and then added a road race title in a season that also saw her nab a stage at the Giro Rosa and land on the podium at the Tour of Flanders.

| Schmidt says he ‘completely misjudged the punitive framework’

As the AFP reports, Dr. Mark Schimdt, who ran the doping ring investigated by Operation Aderlass, said in court on Friday that he “completely misjudged the punitive framework” and that he “never thought” that he would face prison time. The German doctor is facing charges for having helped athletes across various sports, including multiple cyclists, dope over the past several years.

According to the AFP, Schmidt claimed that his doping activities were initially undertaken in response to requests from athletes, and that it was important to him to protect their health.

In case you missed it

| Unhurried: The joy of slowing down

Markus Stitz brings us along as he rides the John Muir Way in Scotland in his film Unhurried.

| Shoddy investigates: Retirement plans of the pros

In his latest video, Dave Everett finds out what some familiar names have been up to since retiring from pro cycling.

Today’s featured image of Stephen Roche – who turns 61 on Saturday – winning a world title comes from Cor Vos. Although this is technically Friday’s Daily News Digest, since there won’t be a Saturday DND and since it’s already Saturday for many of our readers, it seemed like as good a time as any to feature a photo of the Irish cycling legend achieving one of his most iconic victories. Can you name the other two riders that finished on that podium in Austria?

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