VN news ticker: Markus Hoelgaard wins Arctic Race of Norway opener; Premiere Tech to leave Astana

Here's the news making headlines for Thursday, August 5.

Photo: Getty Images

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Markus Hoelgaard wins Arctic Race of Norway opener

Norwegian rider Markus Hoelgaard of Team Uno-X broke away from the peloton inside 1km to go to win the opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway. Hoelgaard held off a charging Alexander Kristoff and Bryan Coquard to win by two seconds. It’s Hoelgaard’s second stage victory at the Norwegian tour, and he took a stage there in 2019.

Hoelgaard made his move after a two-man breakaway containing Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and Odd Christian Eiking (Wanty-Gobert) broke away on the final climb. After he attacked, the Norwegian navigated the twists and turns in the start/finish town of Tromsø to win.

The 26-year-old now takes over the leader’s jersey with three stages remaining.

Arctic Race of Norway stage 1 results

  1. Markus Hoelgaard, Uno-X, 3:11:29
  2. Alexander Kristoff, Norway, at 0:02
  3. Bryan Coquard, B&B Hotels-KTM
  4. Jesus Soto, Euskaltel-Euskadi
  5. Kristian Aasvold, Team Coop, all at s.t.

Premier Tech to leave Astana at the end of 2021

Canadian sponsor Premier Tech will leave the Astana-Premier Tech team at the end of 2021, the team announced on Thursday. The team has functioned as a co-owner and co-title sponsor after a five-year deal with the team. The Kazakh shareholders of the team will continue as owners into 2022.

In a statement, Premier Tech President and CEO Jean Belanger said the company did not share the same vision for the team as its Kazakh owners, and so ending the partnership simply made more sense.

“Although it is disappointing for Premier Tech to end its collaboration with Kazakhstan, it has been fantastic to be involved in the project since 2017,” read the statement. “We were excited to step up as co-owner and co-title sponsor of Astana-Premier Tech at the start of the season and forge a new direction for the team alongside the Kazakh shareholders. Unfortunately, it has become clear in our ongoing discussions and planning for the future that we do not share the same vision and we have been unable to come to an agreement that works for both parties. Premier Tech is committed to the sport of cycling and will announce in the near future the next phase of its presence in the peloton and WorldTour scene.”

Romain Bardet wins Vuelta a Burgos stage 3

Romain Bardet (Team DSM) won stage 3 of the 2021 Vuelta a Burgos. With the win, Bardet assumes the lead of the GC.

Bardet finished ahead of Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka-NextHash), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), and Mikel Nieve (Team BikeExchange) who were dispatched on the climb.

The French climbing specialist took victory in Espinosa de los Monteros, after racing 173 kilometers from Busto de Bureba. A minor tumble on the 17km descent from Picón Blanco — which he summited with relative ease — allowed Bardet’s pursuers to gain time on the gap created on the climb, but it was not enough to bring him back.

While Bardet took the KOM classification at the 2019 Tour de France, this is his first victory since the 2018 Classic de l’Ardèche.

This win bolsters the confidence of Team DSM which has gone winless for nearly five months — since Cees Bol’s win on stage 2 of Paris-Nice.

2021 Vuelta a Burgos stage 3 results

  1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM), 4:14:14
  2. Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka-NextHash), at :39
  3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), at s.t.

2021 Vuelta a Burgos General Classification

  1. Romain Bardet (Team DSM), 11:44:38
  2. Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), at :45
  3. Domenico Pozzovivo (Qhubeka-NextHash), at :58

John Degenkolb returns to Team DSM

John Degenkolb celebrates winning the 2015 Paris-Roubaix. Photo: Courtesy Team DSM – Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos

John Degenkolb will return to Team DSM for the 2022 season on a two-year contract. Degenkolb raced with Trek-Segafredo for the 2017-19 seasons and has been with Lotto-Soudal for the 2020-21 seasons.

The German powerhouse previously raced with Team DSM from 2014-2018, adding 36 wins to his palmares during this time including Gent-Wevelgem in 2014, and Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in 2015. He also has 10 stage wins and earned the points jersey at the Vuelta a España, and stage wins also at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.

In returning to the German-registered squad, Degenkolb will try to add to his list of classics wins, and hunt stages at grand tours.

“I had a great time with the team previously, and we have always remained good friends as I made my journey through the peloton. Their development over the years is impressive. The team is about honesty; they deliver everything they promise and they expect the same the other way around, which makes them unique,” said Degenkolb. “I’m really looking forward to re-immersing myself back into this culture, integrating into the sprint train and the classics block, and being part of the group that hunts stage results in a Grand Tour.”

Team DSM head of coaching Rudi Kemna said that Degenkolb’s return to the squad will help the team both on and off the bike, helping to guide younger riders through experience and example.

“We’re delighted to have John back in the team with us. We really enjoyed our time together before and we’re looking forward to building on that in the coming years,” said Kemna. “Someone of John’s experience is crucial for both the hectic moments in a race, but also to help to push each other to be better outside of the race.

“We believe he can also share his knowledge from his years in performing at the highest level of cycling with our talented young riders, helping to set a strong example for them and be an important culture carrier,” Kamna added.

Trek-Segafredo extends contracts with climbing contingent, domestiques

Trek-Segafredo announced Thursday it has renewed contracts with its climbing contingent and domestiques.

Continuing at the American-based WorldTour are Antonio Tiberi (through 2024), Julien Bernard (through 2023), Kenny Elissonde (through 2023), Juan Pedro López (through 2023), and Antoni Nibali (through 2022).

Tiberi was the 2019 world time trial champion in the junior division. Bernard, who has been with the Trek outfit since turning pro in 2016, won the 2020 Tour de Alpes Maritimes et du Var. Bernard was a key domestique in the 2021 Tour de France. Elissonde featured frequently in breakaways and mountain stages at the 2021 Tour de France, finishing second to Wout van Aert on the stage with a double ascent of Mont Ventoux. López joined Trek-Segafredo as a stagiaire in 2019, and has also contributed as a domestique recently in the Clasicá San Sebástian. Antonio Nibali — the younger brother of Vincenzo — will remain with Trek while the elder Nibali’s contact with the squad ends. Nibali came to Trek in 2020 as a domestique, and will continue in this role, hoping to gain experience in grand tours.

Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena said each rider brings unique talents and promise to the team.

“In just a few months, Antonio [Tiberi] has confirmed his potential but, above all, has allowed us to see how wide his margins of growth are.

“Julien [Bernard] has dedicated a lot of his career to the team, and we are happy to repay that dedication with a new contract,” said Guercilena. “Seeing him take his first win last year [at Tour des Alpes-Maritimes et du Var] was a very pleasing moment for everyone at Trek-Segafredo and a just reward for his hard work.”

“It has been a pleasure to have Kenny [Elissonde] in the Team since he signed in 2020. From his first race, the Tour Down Under, he showed his unwavering commitment to the Team’s objectives. Kenny is still improving; we can see this in his strong performances in the breakaways at the Tour. As more opportunities come his way, he needs to seize his chance to win.

“Juanpe [López] has been a welcome addition to our Team, and I’m glad to have him stay with us. We identified him as a pure climber with lots of potential that he is making steady progress in reaching.

“When he has been called in to support the leaders, Antonio [Nibali] was able to stand out due to his reliability and commitment. The grand tours, in particular, require a lot of unseen but very precious hard work for a rider like him.”

Trek has confirmed that López will start the 2021 Vuelta a España in a week’s time alongside Guilio Ciccone, Gianluca Brambilla, Quinn Simmons, and Michel Ries.

Joss Lowden to make official attempt at hour record

Lowden previously set an unofficial hour record, but now has designs on making a recognized attempt. Photo: Courtesy Drops

Joss Lowden has made official her intention to attempt the hour record. On September 30 at the Tissot Velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland, the 28-year-old British rider will look to crack Vittoria Bussi’s current mark.

Lowden had stated she was hoping to attempt the feat earlier this summer, but it has only now been officially recognized by the UCI.

“I’m really pleased to be able to officially announce I am planning an attempt to break the UCI hour record timed by Tissot at the end of September this year. It’s an idea that’s been in the making for some time and with the support of Le Col and Wattshop, I’m now in a place to be able to make the attempt,” Lowden said Thursday.

Lowden has already unofficially broken the current record of 48.007km set by the Italian speedster Bussi in 2018. The Drops-Le Col rider set a distance of 48.160 kilometers while training for the individual pursuit in the U.K. this past February.

“Vittoria Bussi has set a high bar with her record at altitude, but I trust with the support and right preparation I should be able to give the record a good nudge,” Lowden said.

Successful attempts on the UCI hour record:

  • 13 September 2018: Vittoria Bussi (ITA) at Aguascalientes (MEX), 48.007km (current record)
  • 27 February 2016: Evelyn Stevens (USA) at Colorado Springs (USA), 47.980km
  • 22 January 2016: Bridie O’Donnell (AUS) at Adelaide (AUS), 46.882km
  • 12 September 2015: Molly Shaffer – Van Houweling (USA) at Aguascalientes (MEX), 46.273km

Sepp Kuss to back Primož Roglič at Vuelta a España

Jumbo-Visma has unveiled the names of the seven riders that will support Primož Roglič and his ambition of taking a third straight Vuelta a España title. The two-time defending champion will have the backing of trusty lieutenant Sepp Kuss, while Robert Gesink is back after crashing out of the Tour de France.

Steven Kruijswijk is also back after he too was forced out of the Tour de France last month. Completing the Jumbo-Visma roster will be Koen Bouwman, Sam Ooman, Lennard Hofstede and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

Roglič has won the last two editions of the Vuelta a España and could become only the third rider in history to take three in a row. He abandoned his major goal of the Tour de France in the first week due to injuries he sustained in a crash on stage 3, but recovered sufficiently to take a dominant gold medal in the Olympic Games individual time trial.

The Vuelta a España begins in Burgos, on August 14.

U.S. Olympian Connor Fields leaves hospital after brain hemorrhage

The American rider Connor Fields has left the hospital after suffering a brain hemorrhage in a terrible crash at the Olympic BMX race semi-finals last week.

Fields will now return home to Henderson, Nevada, and start his rehabilitation.

“I’m back. Ish. Still can only stand for 5-10 min at a time but we’re working!” Fields wrote on Twitter.

Fieds, 28, crashed hard in the Olympic semi-finals last Friday and sustained a brain hemorrhage at the venue before being taken to hospital in Tokyo. He was reported as stable the next morning and has been monitored in the days since. He has now been cleared to return to the United States to continue his recovery.

Fields’ mother, Lisa, has been providing updates on her son’s condition via Facebook.

“I am happy to report that a few of us have been able to see and speak with Connor on FaceTime and I am 1,000 percent relieved to hear his voice, witness him move around, and see that his sense of humor and strength are still intact,” she wrote Tuesday.

“We are all overjoyed with the news that he is booked on a flight home on Friday. His progress will continue to be evaluated for at least another week.”

João Almeida leads Deceuninck-Quick-Step at Tour of Poland

João Almeida, Mikkel Honoré, and Alvaro Hodeg will lead Deceuninck-Quick-Step at the Tour de Pologne, starting next week.

The Colombian sprinter Hodeg will battle for the fast finishes while young revelation Honoré and rising GC talent Almeida will race for the classification. Reigning champion Remco Evenepoel will not start.

Almeida’s fellow Hagens Berman Axeon graduate Ian Garrison and French powerhouse Rémi Cavagna will also be in action for the seven-stage race.

“We’re heading to Poland with a strong team and a lot of confidence,” said sport director Geert Van Bondt. “Alvaro Hodeg took a fine win in France just last week and will have a couple of opportunities also here, while in João Almeida, Rémi Cavagna and Mikkel Honoré we’ll have three guys capable of playing a role in the general classification fight.”

The seven-stage race is likely to be decided by the 18km time trial on stage 6 and a tricky uphill finish on stage 4.

Deceuninck-Quick-Step for Tour of Poland:  

João Almeida (POR)
Rémi Cavagna (FRA)
Tim Declercq (BEL)
Ian Garrison (USA)
Alvaro Hodeg (COL)
Mikkel Honoré (DEN)
Stijn Steels (BEL)

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.