Flanders Classics plans for no crowds at its races in 2021: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

We cross over the midpoint of the week with news on next year’s Flemish Classics, which are expected to be held without crowds. Also in the headlines are news of a doping ban for a rider who spent some time in the yellow jersey back in 2009, a few more transfer announcements, and an update from the UCI’s working group on rider safety.

Read on for the latest from the world of cycling.

Dane Cash,
News Editor

What’s News

| Flanders Classics preparing for no crowds at races in 2021

As in 2020, Flanders Classics is planning to run its races without crowds of fans next year.

“There is no audience.” Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel said of the organization’s plans for its 2021 events in a recent interview with De Morgen. “This is how we’ll be working throughout the Spring Classics.”

That means no crowds lining the cobbled climbs at the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, to name only some of the events run by the Belgian organization.

“Of course I would rather see Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel ride up the Oude Kwaremont side by side through a sea of people,” Van Den Spiegel said. “Unfortunately that will not be the case in 2021 either.”

| Nocentini banned four years

Rinaldo Nocentini, who spent over a week in the yellow jersey at the 2009 Tour de France, has received a four-year ban for anti-doping rule violations. Corriere della Sera reports that the ban was connected to biological passport irregularities.

The 43-year-old Italian retired at the end of 2019 after four seasons with the Sporting Clube de Portugal-Tavira team. The Italian national anti-doping tribunal has stripped his results from 2018 on; in that period, he won two stages at the Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

Prior to his stint at Sporting Clube de Portugal-Tavira, Nocentini spent nine years with AG2R-La Mondiale, winning a number of one-day races like the Gran Premio Miguel Indurain as well as the overall title at the Tour Méditerranéen. He finished 12th in the Tour in 2009, a year that also saw him take a stage win at the Tour of California.

In an interview with TuttoBiciWeb, Nocentini said that he would try to prove his innocence and criticized the use of biological passport findings to sanction riders without further evidence of wrongdoing.

| UCI provides an update on status of safety discussions

In a press release on Wednesday, the UCI provided an update on the progress that its working group has made on developing new protocols for rider safety. According to the UCI, the group recently met for a fourth time after previous meetings to discuss “course protection and signalization,” “equipment and rider actions, and “vehicles in the race convoy.”

Safety measures proposed by the group will go to the Professional Cycling Council on December 9.

| Koppenburg signs with Rally

Rally announced Wednesday that it had completed its roster for 2021 with the signing of Clara Koppenburg.

The 25-year-old German climber will join the team after one year with Équipe Paule Ka, which is folding. Koppenburg counts several strong results in stage races on her career palmares, including an overall win at last year’s Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.

| Qhubeka-Assos adds Brown, Tanfield, and Vinjebo

The NTT team that will become Qhubeka-Assos next year continues to announce new signings. On Wednesday, the team said that Connor Brown, Harry Tanfield, and Emil Vinjebo will join the squad next year.

Brown makes the jump up from the NTT Continental squad. The 22-year-old all-rounder, who holds dual citizenship in New Zealand and South Africa, won a stage at last year’s Tour de Limpopo and rode to third on a challenging mountain stage at this year’s under-23 Giro Ciclistico d’Italia. Tanfield spent 2019 at Katusha-Alpecin and rode for AG2R-La Mondiale this year. The 26-year-old Briton counts stage wins at the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Quanzhou Bay on his career palmares. Vinjebo comes aboard from the Riwal Securitas team. The 26-year-old Dane finished third at Tro-Bro Léon last year and has already delivered a top 10 overall at the Tour of Denmark.

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Today’s featured image of Hennie Kuiper on the Muur van Geraardsbergen comes from Cor Vos. What year did he win the Tour of Flanders? Hint: He was wearing a different jersey from the one he has on this photo at the time.

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