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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,
The Namur Cyclocross World Cup held tight to its reputation as the most exciting Cyclocross race on the calendar. We got a lot of news from the Canyon-SRAM racing team with a new addition, some contract extensions, and the finale of the 2020 Zwift Academy. Plus, British Cycling is even more likely to be a force at the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Read on for more …
Lucinda Brand wins Namur World Cup
Lucinda Brand took off early and never looked back, winning the second round of the Cyclocross World Cup in Namur, Belgium. Behind Brand Clara Honsinger, the USA National Champion threw down an impressive ride for second place and Denise Betsema just held on for third.
Namur, well known as one of the toughest Cyclocross courses on the calendar, delivered a very exciting race on Sunday. Betsema started strong on the first climb of the day immediately after the start but Brand caught her countrywoman at the beginning of the second lap. Once in front of Betsema, Brand put the rest of the race under pressure, forcing Betsema to waste energy on the technical sections of the course.
The World Champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado was already down 28 seconds to Brand at the start of the second lap, with Honsinger 41 seconds from the lead in 4th. In the third lap, Brand extended her lead while Honsinger caught Alvarado.
Brand kept building a strong advantage throughout the rest of the race, but the battle for second was hotly contested. Betsema, Alvarado, and Honsinger came together on the fourth lap, and while Betsema was able to distance Alvarado, Honsinger held on. Honsinger was finally able to distance Betsema on the longest climb on course, riding away to take a very magnificent second place behind Brand and in front of Betsema.
1. BRAND Lucinda, Telenet Baloise Lions 52:47
2. HONSINGER Clara, Cannondale Cyclocrossworld.com +0:29
3. BETSEMA Denise, Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal +0:38
4. ALVARADO Ceylin del Carmen, Alpecin-Fenix +1:21
5. VAS Blanka Kata, Doltcini-Van Eyck-Proximus +1:38
Mathieu van der Poel wins Namur World Cup
It may have been exactly the top three riders people expected to see, but by golly, the World Cup in Namur delivered a shockingly exciting race from start to finish. The World Champion Mathieu van der Poel eventually made his way to the front of the race and held off his rivals to take the win. Wout van Aert was second, and Thomas Pidcock was third after a long stint off the front of the race.
Early into the race, a favorite was already out of contention, Eli Iserbyt had a mechanical before the race shook out. Michael Vanthourenhout took the lead immediately but not for long as Pidcock moved to the front and stretched the race to breaking.
Van der Poel, Van Aert, and Vanthournhout had to work hard to stay with Pidcock. At one point Van der Poel slipped away from the other three but was able to claw his way back to the group. Pidcock looked the most comfortable on the hilly course, as the three struggled to hold his pace on the climbs. It was an epic couple of laps with four strong riders battling for three podium places.
Into the second half of the race, Pidcock led the race with Van der Poel chasing alone, Van Aert and Vanthourenhout behind him. The gaps were tiny, and any mistake could be the end. Van der Poel was only just behind Pidcock, with Van der Poel making up time in the technical sections and Pidcock looking stronger on the climbs. Van Aert and Vanthournhout were mere second behind the World Champion and very much still in the race.
With two laps remaining Van Aert had caught Van der Poel and distanced Vanthournhout. Pidcock had only 7 seconds advantage ahead of Van Aert and Van der Poel. The two superstars caught Pidcock with 1.5 laps to go. Van der Poel powered up one of the steeper climbs distancing Van Aert and Pidcock, barely.
Pidcock was now suffering for his time off the front, even if the gaps were minuscule between Van der Poel and Van Aert, the British Champion was slipping farther away from the win.
In the end, Van der Poel took the victory, with Van Aert second, and Pidcock in third.
1. VAN DER POEL Mathieu, Alpecin-Fenix 1:03:59
2. VAN AERT Wout, Jumbo-Visma +0:03
3. PIDCOCK Thomas, Trinity Racing +0:11
4. VANTHOURNHOUT Michael, Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal +1:07
5. HERMANS Quinten, Tormans Cyclo Cross Team +2:09
Tour Colombia cancels 2021 race due to COVID-19 risks
The Tour Colombia has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The men’s 2.1 Class 1 stage race was set to take place from February 9th to 14th.
“We have consulted the government, health authorities, sports, teams, coaches, managers, and even cyclists looking for a way that would allow us to carry out this great event,” Mauricio Vargas, president of the Federacióm Colombiana de Ciclismo, wrote to the UCI. “But the most logical and consistent conclusion with reality is the cancellation of our race next year and hopefully we can restart it in 2022 with all the necessary enthusiasm and determination. The main reason for cancellation revolved around the preservation of the health not only of the caravan but of the entire environment. This is an event that brings together millions of people as demonstrated in previous editions and it is impossible to control crowds, which is at odds with the commitment to avoid crowds.”
Tour Colombia, originally Oro Y Paz, has been a huge race in Colombia since it began in 2018. First won by Egan Bernal, then by Miguel Ángel López in 2019, and finally, by Sergio Higuita in 2020, the race draws some big names for not only the challenging courses but also for the general atmosphere of the event. The race will no doubt be missed next season.
Canyon-SRAM picks up Elise Chabbey and announces renewals for four riders
Another Equipe Paule Ka rider has found a home for 2021. Equipe Paule Ka folded unexpectedly and abruptly days before this year’s Tour of Flanders. Many of the riders were left hanging, as only a few had been picked up by other teams prior to the news.
Elisa Chabbey has been signed by Canyon-SRAM for the next two seasons, 2021 and 2022. Chabbey, the current Swiss road race National Champion, has been a part of the Equipe Paule Ka/Bigla team for two seasons and is relatively new to the professional cycling scene. In 2019 she rode well at the Women’s Tour of Scotland, placing 5th in the general and sprint classifications and 2nd in the climbers. She showed a lot of promise this season with a series of top 20 results.
“Since I started cycling, Canyon-SRAM Racing was one of the teams I always admired. It’s a team that has the same sponsors and a lot of the same staff and riders for a long time. That provides me with confidence about the future of this team,” said Chabbey.
Along with Chabbey Canyon-SRAM also announced two-year renewals for British National Road Champion Alice Barnes, Alexis Ryan, Lisa Klein, and Tiffany Cromwell. Ryan and Cromwell have been part of the team for the last five seasons while Klein and Barnes both joined the squad in 2018.
Canyon-SRAM is expected to announce more new signings or renewals in the coming week.
Neve Bradbury and Jay Vine win 2020 Zwift Academy
The 2020 edition of the Zwift Academy announced its winners on December the 19th. Neve Bradbury and Jay Vine secured professional contracts for the 2021 season, Bradbury with Women’s WorldTour team Canyon-SRAM, and Vine with ProTeam outfit Alpecin-Fenix.
Vine joins the professional ranks from Nero Continental, an Australian Continental team. The 25-year old was 5th overall this year at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and 7th in 2019 at the Oceania Continental Championship road race. To say Vine is amped on his future in Europe would be a massive understatement.
“I’m pretty ecstatic, to be honest,” said Vine. “I’m lost for words, I didn’t think that it was going to happen this year. This is just incredible. I can’t wait to get over there, when do I start?!?”
Bradbury also raced the Oceania Continental Championships, placing 3rd in the Junior road race and 7th in the Junior Individual Time Trial. She has been racing on the Roxsolt-Attaquer team, an impressive development program in Australia. On December 4th, just a few weeks ago, Bradbury won Day 6 of the National Road Series that took place on the Tweed Coast by two minutes over her competitors. At only 18 years of age, she is an exciting prospect for Canyon-SRAM’s future.
Great Britain secures funding ahead of 2024 Olympics in Paris
UK Sport has granted British Cycling a 12% increase in funding with an eye on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The total amount of funding received is £35.4 million, that’s $48 million or a little under 63 million AUD.
Some sports did not receive additional funding, notably, the budgets for rowing, athletics, swimming, and gymnastics were cut 10%. British Cycling has been quite successful for the last two rounds of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and London. Between all of the cycling disciplines, British Cycling snagged 12 medals in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and 12 in London 2012, eight of those being gold.
British Cycling performance director Stephen Park said, “The money will be invested in supporting the very best of talented British cyclists as we seek to continue to be the top cycling nation at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
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Today’s featured image of Mathieu van der Poel winning the Namur World Cup was taken by Anton Vos.