Big names return to racing at the Étoile de Bessèges: Daily News

Christophe Laporte wins stage 1 of the Étoile de Bessèges.

by Dane Cash

photography by Cor Vos


Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

As we cross the midpoint of the week, quite a few big names have officially kicked off their 2021 campaigns at the Étoile de Bessèges.

In other news, Australian Road Nationals got underway with the time trial events, Tao Geoghegan Hart is aiming to race the Tour de France this year, and the Amstel Gold Race could look quite different this season.

Read on for the latest from the world of cycling.

Dane Cash
News Editor

What’s news?

Christophe Laporte wins stage 1 of the Étoile de Bessèges

Christophe Laporte powered to victory in the opening stage of the Étoile de Bessèges, the first race of the year for quite a few of the peloton’s top names, including Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, Vincenzo Nibali, and Mads Pedersen, to name only a few.

After the early break was caught, stage 1 came down to an uphill finale in Bellegarde. Nacer Bouhanni started pulled away with around 500 meters to go but Laporte – the overall winner in 2019 – followed and then surged past Bouhanni as the line approached to take the victory. Bouhanni settled for second with Pedersen taking third, two seconds back.

Accounting for bonus seconds, Laporte will take a four-second lead over Bouhanni into the second stage.

Gigante and Plapp take victories in time trials at Australian Nationals

Sarah Gigante won her second straight elite time trial title while Luke Plapp rode to his first on Wednesday at the Australian Road Nationals.

Gigante took the win on the 28.6 km course after a close battle with Grace Brown, who took runner-up honors to Gigante for the second consecutive year. Gigante, the last rider out on the road on Wednesday, began to outpace Brown’s time in the second lap of the course and went on to set a time of 40:41, besting Brown’s time by 17 seconds. Nicole Frain took third at 3:57 back.

In the men’s race, Plapp took the win ahead of defending champion Luke Durbridge. Both riders put up similar times through the first two laps of the course but Plapp then started to pull away. He rode the 37.5 km time trial in 46:00 to take the win, with Durbridge settling for second, 43 seconds back. Kelland O’Brien took third, 1:10 down.

UCI hails broadened ban on glucocorticoids

The UCI said on Wednesday that it “welcomes the banning by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of glucocorticoids in competition from 2022, regardless of the type of injection.”

Certain methods of glucocorticoid administration were already banned, but starting on January 1, 2022, the ban will widen to include all kinds of glucocorticoid injection, a move the UCI has been calling for in recent years.

“The decision to generalize the ban on glucocorticoids in competition regardless of the type of injection is a new step forward in the protection of the health of athletes, especially of cyclists, which was among my campaign commitments in 2017,” said UCI President David Lappartient. “After the banning of tramadol in competition since 2019 and the introduction of a protocol for managing concussion in 2021, this is new and important progress for the health of high-level athletes, a central theme of the Agenda 2022, our sport’s strategic roadmap. I am pleased that the banning of glucocorticoids comes under the authority of WADA, which I would like to thank for this decision that represents progress for sport in general and cycling in particular.”

Tao Geoghegan Hart aims to make his Tour debut this year

Tao Geoghegan Hart has said that he is aiming to race the Tour de France this year in what would be his career debut in the race. Geoghegan Hart told The Telegraph that he is targeting the Tour over a return to the Giro d’Italia, which he won in 2020.

“I was pretty much 50-50 [between targeting the Giro and the Tour] because I think both would be really exciting,” Geoghegan Hart told The Telegraph. “I love racing in Italy. I loved the experience of the Giro. And of course, it would be incredible to go back there this year with the No 1 jersey. I understand the significance of that. But I think as a bike racer, to put it bluntly, you can’t see the number on your back.”

“Ultimately, I felt it I wanted to target something new and different. And yeah, the biggest race in cycling. I think there’s no argument there.”

Geoghegan Hart also said he was hoping to race the Olympics in Tokyo this season. For now, however, he is focused on getting his season underway, which he plans to do later this month at the Tour de la Provence.

Amstel Gold Race organizers propose route redesign

As organizers seek the approval of the Dutch government to run the Amstel Gold Race this year, they have redesigned the course, planning for an event that will take on an 18 km circuit instead of the traditional route.

The redesigned course features the Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg, and Bemelerberg climbs, and closely resembles the course used for Road Worlds in 2012.

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