VN news ticker: Jakob Fuglsang commits to Olympics, Women’s Tour postponed

Here's the news making headlines for Tuesday, February 16.

Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

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Jakob Fuglsang all-in for Olympics, monuments

Danish veteran Jakob Fuglsang remains committed toward his pivot away from grand tours, and reiterated his future preferences for one-day races, weeklong stage races and the Olympic Games. Despite finishing a grand-tour career-best sixth in the Giro d’Italia, Fuglsang told Spanish TV that he’s turned his back on fighting for the GC in grand tours.

“This year, I am not going to race for the GC in the grand tours, and I am happy about it because it opens up space for me to look for stage victories and to race every day, and not just waiting for the final climb,” Fuglsang told RTVE. “I’ll be happy to go to the Tour this year to hunt for stages, and prepare for the Olympic Games instead of concentrating on the GC. I believe that really have a chance in a grand tour, you need to have a big team around you. I believe it’s also a question of money and budgets.”

Fuglsang added that he will continue to focus on the one-day monuments and shorter stage races, putting the Tour de Suisse at the center of his ambitions in 2021. Astana-Premier Tech will send Aleksandr Vlasov to the Giro d’Italia as its protected GC leader.

2021 Women’s Tour postponed

The UCI WorldTour Women’s Tour race, originally on the calendar for June, has been rescheduled for October 4-9, officials confirmed.

Event organizers Sweet Spot, working with the UCI and British Cycling, determined that due to the ongoing pandemic, the event would be postponed until later in the year rather than be canceled.

“We are obviously disappointed to be postponing the Women’s Tour from June, but hope that by aiming to stage the race in October we can give the teams and public something to look forward to at the tail end of the summer,” said Women’s Tour race director Mick Bennett.

The 2021 edition will start in Bicester, Oxfordshire, and finish with a stage from Haverhill to Felixstowe, in Suffolk.

SweetSpot recently announced a partnership with Eurosport and the Global Cycling Network for live TV coverage for the first time. These broadcast plans are unaffected by the event’s postponement.

Roc d’Azur week set for October 6-10

The Roc d’Azur, in Fréjus in the south of France, on the Côte d’Azur, is set to roll on October 6-10, featuring more than 30 races during five days.

Event categories for this year’s event include races, recreational rides, gravel grinders, electric-assist bikes, triathlon, and kids. Tri Roc is set for Thursday, the Canyon Roc Marathon at 84.5 km will go off on Friday, the Roc Ruelles in Fréjus will also take place Friday. The Gravel Roc (at 65.4 km), the Kid Roc (for youth 2 to 14 years), and the Rando Roc Noire and Rando Roc Noire Électrique (45.4 km) are all set for Saturday. The Roc d’Azur race will go off on Sunday, started at 8:30 a.m. local time, with 25 minutes between wave starts.

All event entries are available with full refunds should the event not take place due to COVID restrictions.

Registration is now open on the Roc d’Azur website.

Vuelta a España invites Spanish teams to fill wildcards

The Vuelta a España will have a heavy Spanish — and Basque — accent in 2021.

Officials confirmed Tuesday the four wildcards for 2021, and invited three Spanish squads to fill out the roster that also includes all 19 WorldTour teams. Belgium’s Alpecin-Fenix got an automatic bid based on the UCI ProTeams ranking, with Burgos-BH, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, and Euskaltel-Euskadi rounding out the field.

That will mark a return of the emblematic orange Euskatel-Euskadi jersey to the Vuelta since the original team disbanded in 2013. The new-look team, which was born from the Fundación Euskadi team created in 2018, will race its first grand tour under current management. The announcement also means Nairo Quintana will only have one shot at a grand tour with the Tour de France after Arkéa-Samsic was overlooked for both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta.

Davide Cimolai opens up about eating disorders

Italian pro Davide Cimolai says he lost some of his most productive years as a pro due to struggles with weight loss and eating disorders. Speaking to Italian outlet, the Israel Start-Up Nation rider said too many teams in the elite men’s WorldTour put too much emphasis on weight.

“When you turn pro, you think the only thing that matters is being skinny,” Cimolai said. “You think that extra kilo is the only difference between going fast and stopping racing altogether. I learned the hard way. It’s an important issue. There are riders who stopped their careers over this … I threw away the first two or three years of my career because of this. There are teams that put being skinny at the center of everything.”

The 31-year-old Italian joined Israel Start-Up Nation in 2019 after stints at Liquigas, Lampre and Groupama-FDJ.

Joe Dombrowski debuts season this week in France

Joe Dombrowski will debut his second season in a UAE-Emirates jersey at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var on Friday. Last year, the American finished 43rd in the Giro d’Italia. In France, he will be joined by teammates Rui Costa and David de la Cruz.

“We have three intense stages with lots of climbing and fierce competition also. On paper, we have a balanced team with options for the GC with myself and the chance of stage opportunities through [Ryan] Gibbons and Costa,” de la Cruz said. “Preparations have gone well. This race will be part of my build-up to Paris-Nice and Volta Catalunya. I’ve had a good block of training at altitude at Mount Teide with the team, and I’m excited to finally pin the race numbers on again and get the 2021 season started.”

Spring campaign in jeopardy for Mike Teunissen

Mike Teunissen, a key ally for Wout van Aert in the northern classics, could be sidelined for weeks following a crash during a high-altitude training camp on Tenerife, officials confirmed overnight. Teunissen, 28, hit a rock on Saturday in a descent and crashed. He flew to the Netherlands on Monday, and additional exams showed that further treatment is necessary.

“In the first place, this is a disappointment for Mike,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann. “For us as a team it is also a bummer, because of course it is no secret that we have ambitions in the classics. Mike is a strong rider for that, but fortunately we also have other good men to make up for his loss. In the classic core, riders will move up a spot and we are confident that they will do well.”

Teunissen, seventh in the 2019 Paris-Roubaix, is a key rider in the team’s spring classics program centered on van Aert.

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.