Phil Anderson, Greg Lemond, and Stephen Roche.
Hello again, CyclingTips readers,
With plenty of WorldTour racing coming up, Thursday saw riders like Julian Alaphilippe offering their thoughts ahead of some big objectives and teams like the Ineos Grenadiers confirming lineups for the upcoming events.
Read on for the latest from the world of cycling.
Alaphilippe points to Van Aert and Van der Poel as Strade Bianche favorites
Julian Alaphilippe will take the start at Strade Bianche on Saturday as one of the biggest names in the race and a likely contender for the win, but in a media appearance on Thursday, the reigning world road champ pointed to Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert as favorites for the Italian one-day.
“You have seen the shape of Van der Poel the last couple of days,” Alaphilippe said. “It’s a beautiful race that suits Van der Poel perfectly. And you saw last year, Van Aert was very strong, and even if it’s the first race, he can win. For my side, I am happy to take the start with a big motivation. We have a strong team, and we have to be smart.”
Alaphilippe also expressed his affection for the race, which he won back in 2019.
“It is not a Monument, but it deserves to be one,” Alaphilippe said. “It is right up there with the Monuments. For me, it is one of the most beautiful races on the calendar. I was watching it on TV before I raced it. I was so happy to win it when I did after such a hard race.”
Ineos confirms Strade Bianche roster, Moscon out with broken scaphoid
The Ineos Grenadiers have named their starting lineup for Strade Bianche, confirming that the roster will include the likes of Egan Bernal, Tom Pidcock, and Michal Kwiatkowski (despite the fact that took a hard fall at the Trofeo Laigueglia this week). Gianni Moscon, on the other hand, will miss the race. The Italian suffered a scaphoid fracture in a crash at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. According to La Gazzetta, he will also miss Milan-San Remo.
Saturday will mark the Strade Bianche debut of both Bernal and Pidcock, while Kwiatkowski is a two-time winner of the race. Also set to make the Strade Bianche start for Ineos are Leonardo Basso, Owain Doull, Salvatore Puccio, and Pavel Sivakov.
Michael Matthews set for 2021 debut at Paris-Nice
BikeExchange announced its roster for Paris-Nice on Thursday, confirming that Michael Matthews will make the first start of his season – and the first start of his second stint with the team after he came over from Sunweb this past offseason – at the French stage race.
Matthews will lead the hunt for stages in Paris-Nice, while Lucas Hamilton will target the overall battle. Also slated to attend are Alex Edmondson, Amund Grondahl Jansen, Luke Durbridge, Alexander Konychev, and Luka Mezgec.
UCI asks riders not to hug
In a webinar presenting its updated COVID-19 protocols for 2021, the UCI requested that riders refrain from hugs in post-race celebrations. UCI Medical Director Xavier Bigard explained that the UCI is hoping riders can continue to set an example for those watching races.
“In my opinion as a doctor, the risk of being contaminated by this behavior is not very high,” Bigard said. “However, the message we have to send around the world and to race spectators is that we have to fight this virus and remind people that it is prohibited to touch other people.”
López says he has thought about leaving cycling before
Miguel Ángel López has spoken about his transfer to Movistar, his goals for the season, and more in a wide-ranging interview with El Tiempo. Among the interesting items López touched on in the interview were the challenges of being a pro cyclist.
“It’s complicated and one starts to think like Dumoulin,” said López, in reference to Tom Dumoulin, who decided to step away from cycling earlier this year.
“To be honest, I have thought about leaving [cycling] and taking a step aside, because there are complex situations. The pressure, the sacrifice, the fatigue, the injuries are complicated. When you are a leader, you are responsible for an entire team, but there are moments of despair and sometimes you think hot-headedly. It is important to be well supported. Family keeps you grounded.