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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Friday, September 24, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Mikkel Honoré re-ups with Deceuninck-Quick Step

Here’s the team’s news release:

The 24-year-old Mikkel made a big step forward this season, taking his first pro victory in March, at the Settimana Coppi e Bartali, which was followed by a stage win in Vuelta al Pais Vasco. His remarkable results didn’t stop there, as in the summer he podiumed at the Clasica San Sebastian, finished top 5 overall at the Tour de Pologne and runner-up behind teammate Remco Evenepoel at Druivenkoers Overijse, before two other impressive top 5, at the Tour of Britain and Primus Classic.

Mikkel Honore

Mikkel Honoré having a good day at the 2021 Coppi-Bartali race.

His strong results and the progress he made have naturally landed him a two-year contract extension with the Wolfpack, where he started his career in 2019 after a short spell as a stagiaire.

“I’m honoured. I have had so many great experiences in my life as a pro rider so far as part of this amazing team. There have been a lot of things that helped me improve and learn more with each season. I feel each month the improvement I’m making and I look back on a lot of memorable victories I’ve been part of riding with such big names. To be honest my teammates and the staff feel like family, we spend so much time together on the road, and when you’re on the road you feel like you are at home, I think that’s the greatest thing. The staff creates a great atmosphere every time. They, in my opinion, are the main reason for the culture and the ambiance in the team. When the staff are always giving 110% for us riders, then we also feel like we need to give 110% and it makes you more motivated. Our staff really makes a big difference.”

Deceuninck – Quick-Step CEO Patrick Lefevere was aware of the Dane’s talent as early as 2018, before he turned pro: “I first took Mikkel as a stagiaire in the team and when we signed him, I knew he would be a great asset for us and that’s what he proved so far. This season he made a big step, taking two wins and several other strong results in a wide range of races. He still has room to improve, and that’s what we will try to do. You feel Mikkel really feels at home here and together we’ll aim for some more successes in the next two years.”

“It was a very important step to take my first win. All the sacrifices and hard work you do and then being able to raise your hands is something so nice that you will carry with you forever”, said Mikkel about his first big moment of the year.

But the Dane didn’t stop there, and the story continued in stage 5 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco: “I came over the line together with Josef, which was extra special. Victory wise Coppi e Bartali was emotional as it was my first pro win, but to pass the line with your teammate that’s, I think, something even more special. It was incredible. It’s a pity we couldn’t be both on the first step on the podium, because it was fantastic and something a lot of riders dream of doing once in their career and not many are able to do as well.”

Fast forward in time, but staying in the beautiful Basque Country, and Mikkel took his first top 3 in a World Tour one-day race, at the always-entertaining Clasica San Sebastian: “It was a pity that I crashed in the final kilometers of the race. I was feeling very good and had a great block of training before. I was motivated to race again. I was on the wheel of Mohoric, but he made a mistake in the corner so I couldn’t do much to avoid it. In the end it was an instinct and a quick decision I made to try to get the least damage possible and to get back on the bike as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, you are also a bit disappointed in the end, as I was so close to winning my first big World Tour one-day race. It’s part of racing, the ups and the downs. Then I went to Poland, where I was very motivated and had a great week with the team, enjoying our results, but also the beautiful roads, the big cycling fans and the fantastic organisation that made everything so nice.”

“Now after a strong Tour of Britain I hope to have a good end of the season. Then the focus goes onto the future, to next year. I dream of being at the start of next year’s of the Tour de France in Denmark. I don’t know how many times you can say the Tour de France will pass in front of your home town, where you grew up, maybe even never. I’m very lucky to be able to be a professional cyclist at this time where the Tour has its Grand Depart in Copenhagen. And then of course winning a big one-day race is one of my absolute dreams”, Mikkel smiles.

To make these dreams come true, Mikkel knows that he can rely on his fantastic teammates, staff, but also on Patrick Lefevere, the man guiding the Wolfpack: “I have incredible respect for Patrick, for always believing in me and taking me into the team and for all his work. We have a great relationship together and how I saw from close hands in the last years how he works and how he manages the team, it’s impressive. How he keeps his riders motivated by making them happy. He knows that in the end happy riders are great performing riders. His kind of mentality and the team’s mentality are also one of the things that didn’t make me doubt for a single second about continuing with the Wolfpack.”

Vincenzo Nibali returns to Team Astana

Here’s Astana’s announcement:

Vincenzo Nibali will return to Astana, the team he rode for from 2013 to 2016 and where he achieved most of his career highlights, including two triumphs at the Giro d’Italia (in 2013 and 2016) and the Tour de France (in 2014).

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali after winning the 2016 Giro d'Italia. Sirotti photo

The 36-year-old Italian rider is set to reunite with Team Astana in 2022 in what will be a homecoming for the decorated Grand Tour winner.

“I am very happy to come back to Team Astana, because for me it is a real family that has given me a lot and together with which I have achieved my greatest successes. I know most of the management and staff of the team, so I will return to the team I know really well. Also I have some very nice memories from visiting Kazakhstan and its capital and it was an unforgettable experience”, – said Vincenzo Nibali.

“It is difficult to talk right now about any specific expectations for my return to the team, as well as about the plans for next season. But first of all, for me it will be an enjoyable reunion with the team, and I would like to enjoy the new season to the fullest. Of course, I would like to prove myself, to achieve certain results, but at the same time I am interested in providing my experience to young riders. In any case, together with the team management we will still discuss various aspects of the new season, we will determine the goals, both team and my personal ones, and after that we will start moving in the chosen direction”, – added Nibali.

Nibali spent four seasons in Team Astana and accumulated 22 wins, including his three Grand Tour titles, as well as victories at Il Lombardia, the Italian National Championships, Tirreno-Adriatico, Giro del Trentino and Tour of Oman. In the blue colours of the Kazakh team, Nibali won an impressive nine Grand Tour stages.

“We are happy that this return is coming true. Vincenzo Nibali doesn’t need any introduction – he is a true champion and leader. Probably, he spent the best years of his career in our team, and I think it is symbolic that he will finish such a great cycling career in Team Astana. For us, the arrival of Nibali is an opportunity to get and to use all the rich experience a rider of his calibre can offer, to transform and improve the team, which will undergo some great changes in the new season. We would like to pay more attention to young riders and the presence of a champion like Nibali could play a very important role in their growth and development. However, I believe that Vincenzo has not said yet his last word in cycling, so in some races we can still rely on him as the leader of the team to achieve new successes together again”, – said Alexandr Vinokurov, General Manager of Team Astana in 2022.

Óscar Rodríguez joins Team Movistar

Here’s the team’s announcement:

The Movistar Team announced Thursday that Óscar Rodríguez (Burlada, Navarra, ESP; 1995), a current member of the Astana – Premier Tech squad, has signed a contract for the next two years (2022 and 2023) with the organisation managed by Eusebio Unzué.

Having cut his teeth at his home Club Ciclista Villavés and earned a place in the pro scene at the strong development outfit Equipo Lizarte, Óscar soon showed his WorldTour climbing caliber, other than good abilities for all kinds of terrains, including TTs. A member of the Murias team in 2017-19, he claimed a great victory in his maiden La Vuelta appearance, 2018, with a solo effort up the steep slopes of La Camperona.

Oscar Rodriguez

Oscar Rodriguez leaving everyone else behind in stage 13 of the 2018 Vuelta. Sirotti photo.

A solid 2019 season -runner-up in the Vuelta a Burgos; close to a top-20 overall result in La Vuelta- opened him the doors of the WT with Astana, who gave him the chance to debut in the Giro -and other top-ranked events, such as Dauphiné, Tirreno or UAE- and saw him reaching consistent, brilliant results all over the 2021 season: he was 2nd atop the Mont Ventoux, 3rd in the Route d’Occitanie, 6th -while supporting the race winner- in Ordizia and and 10th in the Vuelta a Andalucía.

Rodríguez’s signing with the Movistar Team is a reason for joy and pride for the Blues, his Navarra origins reinforcing the local presence into a team always supporting its route during its (with 2022) 43 years in cycling’s top tier.

REACTION / Óscar Rodríguez:
“I’m so happy to be able to race with the Movistar Team for the next two years. At every place I’ve been part of since I took up cycling, both as a kid at the Club Ciclista Villavés and as an amateur at the Equipo Lizarte, everyone there would have loved to have this chance. My home team, with such an illustrious history – it makes me really happy. Currently I’m recovering from a crash I sustained at La Vuelta – I’m doing some exercise to strengthen the muscles in my left knee; hopefully I can get it fully healed soon, so I can resume training.

“My main wish for the next few years is performing strong so I can try and help my team-mates out as much as possible, other than – when I’ve got the chance – try and contest some victories. Above all, this is about feeling appreciated by them and feeling them happy about what I do. I’ll offer all of my commitment and professionalism to make this gamble by the team a huge success.”

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