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Belgian adventure continues for Team Novo Nordisk at the Baloise Tour

The world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team stay in Belgium this week for the five-day Baloise Belgium Tour looking for breakaway opportunities after a tough weekend of racing at Hageland and Elfstedenronde.

Australian Declan Irvine produced what could be considered a breakthrough performance in races he idolized as a junior rider, overcoming the challenge of being dropped on the cobbles in Elfstedenronde on Sunday to battle his way back in and finish just behind the sprinters in the peloton.

“Ah, I’m feeling pretty good after Sunday actually,” said Irvine. “I was happy to finish where I did, but straight after the race I was only thinking that we could have done better and that’s the main I thing I want to take into the Belgium Tour this week, that we can do better and keep improving every day and every race.”

French puncheur Charles Planet has struggled for some from recently and will be looking to change that situation this week and lead from the front alongside former Hungarian road champion Peter Kusztor and Brit Sam Brand with Irishman Stephen Clancy stepping in for the injured Andrea Peron.

“I think we learned some good lessons from the weekend’s racing,” said sport director Gennady Mikhaylov. “It was very hard for our guys, but no-one has ever said racing in Belgium is easy and we need these experiences to move forward and get this kind of racing rhythm in our legs.”

“We have five more hard days ahead of us now, with four road stages and four opportunities to get in the breakaway and show what we can do when we’re up the road. There’s been a couple of changes to the team due to Andrea still having a problem with his knee after Estonia, but we have the balance and versatility to achieve our goals.”

Swiss all-rounder Oliver Behringer returns after the recent Tour de la Mirabelle alongside American Logan Phippen who enjoyed his first outing on the Belgian cobbles and is looking forward to more action in the week.

“These first races in Belgium over the weekend were a great experience,” concluded Phippen. “It was an eye-opening experience for sure and surreal to be here in the bunch with the ‘Greats’ I have watched growing up, but a great experience nonetheless and I am happy to have these races under my belt and in my legs now that the Belgium Tour is upon us.”

“This week the priority for me is, for one, to deliver the job that is required of me for the team and the results we’re after and after that it will be continuing to gain the experience in the technical Belgian racing style and getting into the speed and flow of the Pro peloton. There is so much to learn and integrate into my own style and personality as a rider and I am looking forward to soaking those lessons up this week.”

The five-day race is made up of four classic road stages and one 11.2 kilometer individual time trial on the second day for a total of 693 kilometers. The race criss-crosses Belgium from the northern coast back inland to the finish in Beringen near the border with the Netherlands.

Team Novo Nordisk at the Baloise Belgium Tour 9th – 13th June:

Sam Brand (GBR, 30)

Oliver Behringer (SUI, 25)

Stephen Clancy (IRL, 28)

Declan Irvine (AUS, 22)

Peter Kusztor (HUN, 36)

Logan Phippen (USA, 29)

Charles Planet (FR, 27)

Stages:

Wednesday 9th June, Stage1: Beveren – Maarkedal, 175.3km

Thursday 10th June, Stage 2: Knokke-Heist, 11.2km (ITT)

Friday 11th June, Stage 3: Gingelom – Scherpenheuvel-Zichem, 174.4km

Saturday 12th June, Stage 4: Hamoir – Hamoir, 152.7km

Sunday 13th June, Stage 5: Turnhout – Beringen, 178.7km

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com

One day double header opens Belgian adventure for Team Novo Nordisk

Team Novo Nordisk hit the North next week with back-to-back one day races in Belgium at Dwars door het Hageland followed by Elfstedenronde.

The world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team return to the hard and unforgiving cobbles for the first time since last year’s Brabantse Pijl prepared for some tough racing to lead them into the fast-approaching Baloise Belgium Tour.

These two races open up a solid ten-day block of racing in Belgium for us,” said Sports Director Gennady Mikhaylov. “With the Baloise Belgium Tour coming up a couple of days later, we are hoping that Hageland and Elfstedenronde will get us back into the hard northern European style of racing and ready to hit the cobblestones once again.”

“We’ll be ready to go on Saturday, it’s going to be an intense weekend of racing, but it will be a great experience for some of our guys who haven’t raced in Belgium before and that will be invaluable for them and the team.’

American first year pro Logan Phippen returns for his first races since Belgrade Banjaluka with French puncheur Charles Planet and experienced teammate Joonas Henttala all coming straight from the recent Tour de la Mirabelle.

“I was a little bit disappointed with missing out on a top ten stage result at Mirabelle,” said Planet. “It’s my home race and I desperately wanted to do well there, but I struggled with some sickness after the Tour de Hongrie and that affected my preparation.”

“I’m over that now, recovered and fully focused on Belgium and these next races. We have a good team lining up and we’re motivated to make the most of the opportunities we will have throughout the three races.”

An untimely crash at last week’s Tour of Estonia makes sprinter Andrea Peron a doubt whilst 22-year-old Australian Declan Irvine put in a strong performance in Estonia last week and will be joined by Irishman Stephen Clancy and Italian all-rounder Umberto Poli.

First up is the 18th edition of Dwars door het Hageland on Saturday and a 180 kilometer parcours peppered with short, sharp bergs and closing with what are set to be very fast finishing circuits.

Rounding out the weekend is the 38th edition of the one-day semi classic Elfstedenronde, first held way back in 1943 and formerly known as the Bruges Cycling Classic. The race covers 193 kilometers and traditionally favours the sprinters.

Team Novo Nordisk at Dwars door het Hageland and Elfstedenronde, 5th & 6th June:

Stephen Clancy (IRL, 28)

Joonas Henttala (FIN, 29)

Declan Irvine (AUS, 22)

Andrea Peron (IT, 32)

Logan Phippen (USA, 29)

Charles Planet (FR, 27)

Umberto Poli (IT, 24)

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com