VN news ticker: Spanish road cycling squad cleared to start Olympic road race, Nacer Bouhanni extends with Arkéa-Samsic

Here's the news making the headlines on Friday, July 23, 2021.

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Spanish road cycling squad cleared to start Olympic road race

Spanish cycling federation president José Luis López announced on Spanish radio Tiempo de Juego that the cycling team will be permitted to start the men’s Olympic road race Saturday.

Wielerflits reported that López indicated “riders jumped for joy when they heard the news.”

The Spanish Olympic Committee notified its social media followers that the Spanish Olympic riders all passed a PCR test and that the results were negative for COVID-19.

Despite strict health and safety protocols, it appears one of the team helpers returned a COVID positive on Friday.

A team soigneur was quarantined after a positive COVID test was returned, and it remains unclear if the squad’s national coach Pascual Momparler can attend the race.

Nacer Bouhanni extends with Arkéa-Samsic

French sprint sensation Nacer Bouhanni extended his contract with UCI ProTeam team Arkéa-Samsic.

Bouhanni, a former French national road champion, finished second on stage four of the 2021 Tour de France, and also landed two third-place finishes prior to abandoning after a stage 15 crash.

“Nacer has been the number one French sprinter on the roads of the Tour de France,” said one of the team directors Emmanuel Hubert. “We will continue to write our sprint history with him.”

Also extending with Arkéa-Samsic are Clement Russo, Anthony Delaplace, Amaury Capiot, Matis Louvel and Polish rider Łukasz Owsian.

Dylan Groenewegen sprints to second Tour of Wallonia stage win

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) sprinted to his second Tour of Wallonia win Friday, on stage 4, pushing his wheels ahead of European champion Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubka-NextHash), Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates), Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels), and stage 3 winner Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo).

The Dutch rider also won stage 1, beating out Hugo Hofstetter and (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix).

Groenewegen takes over the lead in the points (green jersey) competition from Simmons; the American holds onto the overall lead.

The Jumbo-Visma sprinter, who returned to racing in late May after serving a suspension for crashing out Fabio Jacobsen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) on stage 1 of the 2020 Tour of Poland.

Simon Geschke out of Olympic road race with COVID

German cyclist Simon Geschke has been confirmed with COVID-19 and will not start the men’s road race.

A dozen other athletes — including members of the cycling squad — who were in close contact with Geschke were tested for the coronavirus but were cleared of illness.

Nikias Arndt, Emanuel Buchmann, and Maximilian Schachmann remain on the start list for Germany.

Geschke, who is in on a one-year contract with Cofidis was distraught with his diagnosis but pleased that no others who were in contact with him have so far taken sick.

“More than disappointed to miss the Olympics tomorrow but also glad everyone else tested negative. It’s a dark day in my career, but I will be back soon later this year hopefully.”

Czech rider out of Olympic Games due to COVID

Road cyclist Michal Schlegel of the Czech Republic is the fourth athlete from the country to test positive for COVID-19 at the Olympics. Schlegel tested positive for the COVID antigen test which was confirmed by a PCR test.

Schlegel has been quarantined in the cyclists’ hotel in the village of Izu, and has been ruled out of competition in the men’s road race Saturday.

Schlegel’s teammates Tereza Neumanová and Michael Kukrle were sent to Tokyo for further testing, reports the Czech Olympic committee website. Former world cyclocross champion Zdeněk Štybar, also on the roster for the men’s road race, remained on-site at the cyclists’ hotel, having taken a different flight to Japan from Prague.

The Czech Olympic Committee launched an investigation into the spread of the virus on the team’s charter flight to Tokyo.

Rohan Dennis to skip men’s road race

Rohan Dennis, the two-time world time trial champion, will skip the Olympic men’s road race in order to prepare for the individual time trial.

Dennis was slated to race the road race Saturday, the individual time trial, and 4000m team pursuit on the track. With Dennis’ withdrawal, the Australian mens’ road squad is down to three: Lucas Hamilton, Luke Durbridge, and Denis’ Ineos-Grenadier teammate Richie Porte.

“It’s a super-hard course, I’ve ridden most of it and it’s really tricky, it’s hot and humid and there’s a lot of climbing,” said Hamilton. “With the climbing all the way up from Tokyo and to Mount Fuji, by the time we get to the steep final climb it’s going to be a pretty small group and there’s still 30km to go.”

Nations are permitted up to five riders in the men’s event. Only Belgium, France, Italy, Colombia, the Netherlands, and Spain were invited to bring a full contingent.

Dennis is making his third Olympic appearance in Tokyo. He scored silver at the London Olympics in the Team Pursuit on the track. In Rio, he suffered a broken cockpit part and finished in fifth place in the individual time trial.

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