VN news ticker: DS believes Mark Cavendish will win again, Bradley Wiggins backs Chris Froome

Here's what's making headlines on Tuesday, March 9.

Photo: Deceuninck-Quick-Step

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DS: ‘Mark Cavendish still has the legs for a sprint victory’

Mark Cavendish scored his first top-3 since 2019 when he was second Sunday at the GP Monseré, and Deceuninck-Quick-Step believes it’s only a matter of time before the veteran sprinter hits the top step on the podium. Rik Van Slycke said the team will continue to give Cavendish, who last won in 2018, chances in the sprints in the coming months.

“You don’t forget how to do something you’ve done your whole life,” Van Slycke told Sporza. “He still needs to get to know his teammates, but those guys at the front of the sprint know what they’re doing. If that goes well, and Cavendish can hit out at the right time, he still has legs for a sprint victory.”

Also read: Mark Cavendish hits podium for first time since 2019

“It is like a young foal that is left in the pasture after the winter. He is still very fanatic, you see he has passion,” Van Slycke said. “A victory would give him a huge boost. Getting the first victory will be the hardest. If that succeeds, there will be more. I’m convinced of that. And then our boss is right again (laughs).”

Northwest Spain will host 7th edition of Ceratizit Challenge by the Vuelta

Ourense, a spa town in Spain’s Galicia region, will host the 2021 edition of the Ceratizit Challenge by the Vuelta. Route details are still forthcoming, but race officials confirmed that the race will be held in September to coincide with the men’s Vuelta a España.

“This agreement is the result of two commitments,” said Javier Guillén, general director of UniPublic. “On the one hand, Unipublic’s commitment to continue to make its women’s race grow, expanding to different territories. And on the other hand, by the Province of Ourense’s commitment to sports and, more specifically, to women’s sports. It is a collaboration with nothing but positives all round.”

Bradley Wiggins cautions against ruling out Chris Froome at Tour de France

Bradley Wiggins is bullish on his former teammate, and cautions against writing off Chris Froome too soon ahead of the Tour de France.

“I’m not going to underestimate him,” Wiggins said on his Eurosport podcast. “The minute you underestimate Chris Froome is the day that you pay for it.”

Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour with Froome at his side, also admitted it won’t be easy for Froome to win an elusive fifth yellow jersey. Froome continues on his upward progression from his heavy crash in 2019, but Wiggins said the peloton has changed since Froome last won the Tour in 2017.

Also read: Road back to Tour de France began in California 

“I think it’s going to be difficult for him, but it is never easy winning the Tour de France, so he is going to have a job on. The race has changed so much, just in the last two years, the riders that are capable of doing well,” Wiggins said. “The structure of the Tour de France has changed over the last few years as well. The way they race it, it’s very close until the last stages … He is an amazing athlete and he has certainly got something left in him, otherwise he would not be racing I don’t think.”

Amstel Gold Race sees OK for April dates

Health authorities have given the green light for the Amstel Gold Race to be contested on its scheduled date on April 18. Both men’s and women’s races will be back on the schedule after last year’s rescheduled race was eventually canceled ahead of a second wave of coronavirus infections last fall.

“We have been given a ‘go’, so the Amstel Gold Race will take place on April 18,” race director Leo van Vliet told  WielerFlits. “There are strict conditions. After the cancellation in October 2020, we have been busy. We have maintained discussions with governments and have been able to work out the plans in detail. The mayors decide in the end, but we have also been in contact with the ministry. If we can do it corona-proof, and we can, then we can race.”

The race will be held “behind closed doors” without fans and under strict controls. The race will also be held on a closed 17km circuit between Valkenburg and Maastricht. This route includes the climbs of the Cauberg, Geulhemmerberg and Bemelerberg.

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