VN news ticker: Batten qualifies for Tokyo games; Mark Cavendish, Miguel Ángel López headline Ruta del Sol, Deceuninck-Quick-Step extends with Michael Mørkøv through 2023

Here's the news making headlines for Monday, May 17.

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USA Cycling confirms Haley Batten for Tokyo 2021

American rider Haley Batten (Trinity Racing) is headed to Tokyo.

On Monday USA Cycling confirmed Batten’s place on the 2021 U.S. Olympic cross-country MTB team for the Tokyo Olympics following her thrilling second-place finish at Sunday’s World Cup MTB race in the Czech Republic. Just two days after Batten won the short-track cross-country race, she vaulted into a two-woman battle for the win with Frenchwoman Loana Lecomte.

Batten finished second in just her second World Cup race at the elite level, improving one step from her third-place finish at last weekend’s World Cup in Albstadt, Germany.

The Czech race marked the only race in 2021 with an automatic criteria for qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. A rider either needed to win the race outright, or in lieu of a victory finish second through eighth place to meet the criteria for the Olympic team.

Batten joins Kate Courtney on the team, leaving USA Cycling’s selection committee to decide the third and final spot on the U.S. women’s team for Tokyo.

Olympic hopeful Erin Huck finished 16th place in the Czech Republic, with Lea Davison finishing 43rd, Hannah Finchamp in 49th, and Chloe Woodruff in 64th places, respectively.

Miguel Ángel López, Mark Cavendish, Mads Pedersen headline Ruta del Sol

Miguel Ángel López, Mark Cavendish, and Mads Pedersen will top the startsheet at this week’s Vuelta a Andalucia, also known as the Ruta del Sol.

The five-stage race rolls out of southern Spain on Tuesday, with the opening hilly stage set to immediately shuffle the GC. Two more hilly stages and a sprint finish follow before the closing 13km time trial.

Cavendish hasn’t raced since ripping up the Tour of Turkey with four stage wins last month, and will be elbowing alongside the likes of Pedersen, Alexander Kristoff and André Greipel in the fast finishes.

López has failed to impress in his sparse race schedule since joining Movistar this year. After battling with a bout of COVID-19 in winter, the Colombian will be looking to score this week in Spain.

The race is taking place some three months later than its traditional February slot on the calendar. The 2.Pro tour is typically used as an early-season form finder but was rescheduled this winter due to COVID concerns.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step extends with Michael Mørkøv through 2023

Deceuninck-Quick-Step announced Monday that it extended the contract with Michael Mørkøv through 2023.

Mørkøv — as the final rider in Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s leadout train — has been instrumental in delivering teammates within striking distance of finish lines.

“All you can wish for from a job is to feel appreciated by your colleagues. I really feel like I belong in this team and I am delighted to be staying,” Mørkøv said. “My goal is to be able to help my teammates take as many wins as possible. This has really been a focus of mine for the last couple of years.”

While reports place 2020 Tour de France green jersey winner Sam Bennett as moving to Bora-Hansgrohe, Morkov will not be following the big Irish sprinter, and he will remain with Deceuninck-Quick-Step where his talents will continue to be utilized.

“I have said several times in the past that I think he is the best lead-out man in the world. You can see a pattern across many of our sprint victories in that we have a strong train and Michael is the final part of that. He knows exactly where to be at the right time,” said team boss Patrick Lefever of Mørkøv. “Having his knowledge and experience, as well as his skills on the bike is vital and I am very happy that he will be with us for two more years.”

Vuelta a Burgos Feminas rounds off a month of Spanish racing for women’s peloton

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) will go head-to-head at the second edition of the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas. The pair headlines a strong start list that also includes Elisa Longo Borghini and Cecilie Uttrup Ludig.

The four-day race, which was canceled last year due to coronavirus restrictions, has been promoted to WorldTour status for 2021. Thanks to COVID-19 continuing to disrupt the calendar, it is the first WorldTour-level stage race for the women’s peloton of the year, and only the fourth in total.

Beginning in Valladiego on May 20, the race features a series of hilly stages and concludes with a difficult summit finish at Lagunas de Neila.

Several weeks of racing in Spain has preluded Burgos with both van Vleuten and van der Breggen winning this month. The Movistar rider laid claim to the four-day Setmana Ciclista Valencianan and the Emekumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa, while the SD Worx rider took the Gran Premio Ciudad de Eibar.

The women’s peloton has another one-day race ahead of the Vuelta a Burgos in the Durango-Durango Emakumeen Saria on May 18, which will see the climbers duking it out over 116km.

UCI announces indefinite postponement of Nations Cup track event in Cali, Colombia

The UCI announced Monday that at the request of local organizers, the Nations Cup track cycling event in Cali, Colombia initially scheduled for June 3 – 6 is indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

According to an official statement, the UCI is currently working with the event organizing committee to find alternative dates for the event to guarantee that the series takes place in the format initially established.

The Nations Cup events replace the World Cup events on the racing calendar but since the changeover to the new format, events in Berlin, Japan, Great Britain, and elsewhere have been canceled or postponed in 2021.


An American in France

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