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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, September 25, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Biniam Girmay makes history

Girmay’s Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team posted this:

This Friday, Biniam Girmay Hailu represented Eritrea at the U23 World Championships. The rider who joined Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert in August was considered as one of the riders to watch during the race of 161.1 kilometers between thee historical cities of Antwerp and Leuven. And at the age of 21, Girmay rose to the challenge by showing an impressive and mature performance.

World Under 23 men podium

World's U23 podium, from left: Biniam Girmay (2nd), Filppo Baroncini (1st) & Olav Kooij (3rd)

He was omnipresent from the first to the last kilometer of the race and in this way, avoided problems on the Flandrien circuit in Overijse, despite the nervousness and numerous crashes in the beginning phase. Girmay left the final cobble section in a peloton of forty riders, who reeled in the early breakaway.

A very attractive race followed on the circuit in Leuven, so it was unclear until the finish whether the race would end in a group sprint or not. Girmay patiently positioned well and survived the uncountable rhythm changes in the city centre before starting the final five kilometers in a small peloton.

Italian rider Baroncini took advantage of a moment of silence in the approach to the final kilometer to attack and distance his competitors in no time. With a mind-blowing finish, Biniam Girmay passed his competitors one by one to win the bunch sprint, 2 seconds behind the new world champion.

By winning the silver medal, Biniam Girmay Hailu makes history as the first rider of black Africa to finish on the podium of the World Championships. It is an interesting fact, knowing that the 2025 Road World Championships were assigned to Rwanda one day ago.

Trek Segrafredo's riders riding the World Championships

Here's the team's guide to its riders racing in Flanders this weekend:

Friends always, but teammates only for 364 days of the year. For one day, the day of the World Championship road race, many of our Team will be opponents. They will remove the Trek-Segafredo kit to wear those of their respective National Teams.

However, for Trek-Segafredo and its fans and sponsors, borders matter only so much. If we see a Trek bike triumph this weekend, it doesn’t matter the country.  We’ll all celebrate because the rainbow stripes will be in our Team.

Eighteen Trek-Segafredo riders will race this Saturday and Sunday in Flanders: 10 women and 8 men representing 11 nations.

The Women’s race is Saturday (157.7 kilometers from Antwerp to Leuven) and the Men’s Sunday (268.3 kilometers with the same start and finish cities). The route? Well, the official presentation from the organizers is clear: “Riders will find the real Flandrien feeling.”

Translation: cobblestones, narrow roads and short, steep climbs. Bring it on!

Below is our completely biased list of Riders to Watch, a short guide to help fans understand our riders (and who we want to win), what jersey they will be wearing, and what role they likely will play.

Our Men

Let’s start with Belgian and local favorite (born in Leuven!) Jasper Stuyven. His national team is the team to beat with Remco Evenepoel and Wout Van Aert under the spotlight. But Jasper, winner of the 2021 Milano-Sanremo, has enough solidity and class to deserve more than a supporting actor.  Much, obviously, will depend on the evolution of the race and the choices of the Belgium team, but we’re confident that Jasper will, in all scenarios, play a big part in Sunday’s race.

Jasper Stuyven

Jasper Stuyven winning 2021 Milano-Sanremo. Sirotti photo

2019 World Champion Mads Pedersen is usually at his side in the cobbled spring races, but this time will be a foe of a powerful Denmark team. Mads has everything to dream of a historic encore after a very successful August, but with his withdrawal from Benelux Tour due to hip pain, his approach to Worlds is under the radar.  Just the way he likes it.

In the oranje jersey is Bauke Mollema. His national team, The Netherlands, will point to Mathieu Van der Poel as their leader, and cobbles are certainly not Bauke’s most desirable dish. In addition, he has just recovered from a terrible crash in the time trial at the Tour de Luxembourg that, fortunately, left him with only road rash and bruises. But our flying Dutchman is living one of the most prolific seasons of his career, so how can we not mention him among those capable of inventing something?

The 2019 Junior World Champion, American Quinn Simmons, prepared for his first Elite’s World Championship challenge with a long and demanding Vuelta a España. His 3rd place in Stage 19, a hyper-aggressive and Classics-style race at the end of three weeks, tells everything about his endurance and strength. His propensity and love for cobbles undoubtedly are advantages. Quinn owns the mark of a dark horse this Sunday.

Last but certainly not least, the World Championships could be opportunities for Toms Skujins, Emilis Liepins (Latvia), Alex Kirsch (Luxembourg), and Ryan Mullen (Ireland) to shed their regular domestique duty and enjoy a day on the attack.

Our Women

Although wearing diverse jerseys, Trek-Segafredo will have an enviable hand of aces in the race Saturday. The first ace sports the Union Jack: Lizzie Deignan won the rainbow jersey in 2015, and her affinity with Belgian racing puts her among the favorites.

After the Tokyo Olympics, Lizzie enjoyed a month of well-deserved rest, returning to the Tour de l’Ardèche where she came close to winning a stage. There is no doubt that ‘Queen Elizabeth’ will play her card shrewdly.

The second ace already claimed a rainbow jersey, won last Monday in the Elite Women’s individual time trial and was recently crowned European Road Champion. Dutch powerhouse Ellen van Dijk has more than met her goals this year, and with no pressure Saturday could pull off a historic double. The cobbles are her ideal race terrain, but much will depend on the strategies of the oranje battleship.

Ellen van Dijk

Ellen van Dijk winning the 2021 European Championship.

The third ace will also sport the oranje jersey and already owns a rainbow jersey too, in cyclocross. Lucinda Brand is motivated for a Worlds parcours that suits her style. Before she makes the move from Madone to Boone for the start of the cyclocross season, expect a super race from Lucinda Saturday.

And the fourth ace is Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini, a guarantee to be in the thick of things on Saturday. Her consistency in performance has few equals in the women’s peloton. She arrives at the event after a long, challenging and successful season. Elisa has never won the rainbow stripes and is certainly due after a 3rd in 2012 and again last year in Imola.  In the Azzurra jersey, and with the support of our new signing for 2022 Elisa Balsamo, she’ll be challenging the other three aces, Lizzie, Ellen and Lucinda, on equal terms.  May the best ace win!

Cycling is often unpredictable, so the rainbow jersey could well land on one of six Trek-Segafredo outsiders: the wily Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Australians Chloe Hosking (if it comes to a sprint, watch for her!) and Lauretta Hanson (who loves racing in Belgium and is having one of her best years yet), 2016 World Champion Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark), and Americans Ruth Winder and Tayler Wiles.

Ruth will draw motivation from the World Championships being one of her last races before saying farewell to road racing, and Tayler is on some darn good form. She finished 2nd in the two-day race, Tropheè des Grimpeuses, one week ago. Not to miss in the American mix is our 2022 new signing Leah Thomas – she recently won the overall at the week-long Tour de l’Ardèche – giving the USA a strong team to strive for a second Trek-Segafredo rainbow jersey this week.

Team Jumbo-Visma signs Milan Vader for three years

The team sent me this announcement:

Milan Vader will ride for Team Jumbo-Visma for the next three seasons. The 25-year-old Dutchman will combine his love of mountain biking with races on the road with the World Tour team.

Vader is looking forward to the time ahead. "It’s cool to ride for Team Jumbo-Visma. In my opinion it is the leading team of this moment. It is nice that it is a Dutch team. Therefore it feels a bit like coming home. We have talked about the path for the coming years. Racing on the road is relatively new for me. I used to race on the road, but not very much. I am very much looking forward to it. The team has a lot of knowledge and experience, so it will be good. I like that everything is focused on performance at Team Jumbo-Visma. I expect to learn a lot and to develop myself as an athlete. A big goal will be the Olympic Games in Paris. I hope to win a medal on the mountain bike. Team Jumbo-Visma is the perfect option to help me with that."

Merijn Zeeman, sportive director of Team Jumbo-Visma, is happy with the arrival of Vader. "It is an interesting project and it has already been a great journey. For years, Milan has been coached by Tim Heemskerk, one of our performance coaches. That is why we have been in touch more intensively. He has been on a training camp with us and he has done a number of physical and personality tests. We got to know him really well. We see a lot of potential in him. He is physically extremely talented. He is technically very good on the bike. Also, his personality appeals to us very much. Milan is someone who is very willing to invest in himself and can work well together."

"We think his qualities lie in up to and including the middle mountains", Zeeman continued. "He is explosive uphill. In such a race program we want to teach him things. How quickly does he pick it up, riding in a peloton, a World Tour peloton? That is something that we still have to see. We are also going to look at the World Cup calendar in mountain biking and the championships that go with it. And how we are going to find a good variation in it."

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