Welcome back to another edition of Pro Log. The road season is well and truly heating up, with a solo breakaway from Team DSM’s Pfeiffer Georgi at Brugge-De Panne resulting in her first WorldTour victory and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) winning the men’s Brugge-De Panne.
If that wasn’t enough, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) broke clear at the E3 Saxo Classic. After some chain lube controversy, Van Aert beat his rivals in a three-man sprint. He distanced the peloton once more at Gent-Wevelgem, albeit with teammate and eventual winner Christophe Laporte, in another show of Jumbo-Visma dominance this season. It’s March.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) won the women’s Gent-Wevelgem, becoming the first Swiss victor of the race, but it was perhaps not as straightforward as she would’ve liked after she took a wrong turn in the final kilometres while leading solo. Fortunately, she still had a large gap over the chasers and ended up winning by over two and a half minutes. We haven’t even begun to talk about Volta a Catalunya, where Primož Roglič secured the general classification…
1. Primož Roglič vs Remco Evenepoel
David Ramos via Getty Images
It’s been quite a week for Jumbo-Visma. Van Aert’s mastery aside, Roglič held off a strong challenge from Soudal-QuickStep’s Remco Evenepoel over the seven-stage Volta a Catalunya. Their positions on GC since Roglič’s victory on the first day – when Evenepoel placed second in the rainbow jersey – never changed. Both riders went on to win two stages each, with Roglič topping the field in both the overall and points classifications and Evenepoel securing both the climber and youth jerseys.
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Roglič and Evenepoel will both compete in the Giro d’Italia this year. Initial markers have been laid, and we could be in for some great action across three weeks in May, with a route that includes a Stage 20 mountain time-trial. Where have we seen one of those before?
2. Eddy Merckx, Tom Boonen react to men’s Gent-Wevelgem result
Eddy Merckx and Tom Boonen, both previous winners of Gent-Wevelgem (among a couple of other races), spoke to Sporza after Van Aert ‘gifted’ Laporte the race victory. Merckx claimed he ‘would not have done it’ and Boonen said Van Aert ‘is going to regret it’.
Van Aert and Laporte broke away from the field in the last 50km of Sunday’s race. Laporte told media afterwards that Van Aert had asked if he wanted to win with 10km to go, so the duo celebrated together before the Frenchman crossed the line first.
I personally believe there are ‘no gifts in cycling’ and understand people wanting the winner of Gent-Wevelgem to be decided through a sprint finish. I also realise the significance of Van Aert, who won Gent-Wevelgem in 2021, allowing Laporte to take the day’s honours as a loyal teammate.
3. Riders on Zaaf Cycling not paid in 2023
In an interview with Ouest-France, Audrey Cordon-Ragot confirmed that riders on the Zaaf Cycling Team, a Continental outfit registered in Spain, have not been paid or reimbursed for expenses for the 2023 season so far.
‘The option that has been put forward, if we are not paid before the end of March,’ she said, ‘is to operate the financial [bank] guarantee that had been paid to the Spanish Federation… which would at least allow us to be compensated, but only three months’ salary. We can’t wait much longer… I can’t work for free for another three months.’
Founded in 2022, ZAAF Cycling stepped up to UCI Continental level for the 2023 season and signed riders left without a contract after the B&B Hotels-KTM collapse last December, including French road race and time-trial champion Cordon-Ragot and Canadian road race and crit champion Maggie Coles-Lyster, who finished 13th at Gent-Wevelgem.
4. Scicon question ethics of Astana Qazaqstan
Immediately after I submit the week’s Pro Log, important news drops. Last week, it was the news that eyewear supplier Scicon has prematurely ended its sponsorship of the Astana Qazaqstan team. Since his move to the team for the 2023 season, Mark Cavendish has continued to sport his signature Oakley sunglasses due to his personal deal with the brand, and some teammates followed suit. Naturally, it hasn’t gone down well with Scicon, who pulled its entire sponsorship deal including luggage and bike bags.
Scicon CEO Heinrich Dannhauser said, ‘It is unfortunate that individual riders can compromise sponsorship agreements in this way,’ and went on to question Astana’s ethics.
The Tour of Flanders is this weekend, and you can prepare for the action with our handy guide to the races. Which Jumbo-Visma rider will win? We’ll have to wait to find out.
See you next week for another edition of Pro Log.
Tags: Pro Log