Groves & Yates headline Team BikeExchange at the Tour of Croatia hunting late season wins – Team BikeExchange

Team BikeExchange are in Croatia ready for the six-day CRO race starting on Tuesday, 28th September with Giro d’Italia podium finisher Simon Yates back in action and looking for a high overall showing in the last phase of the 2021 season.

The mixed seven-rider team includes recent Tour of Slovakia prologue winner Kaden Groves, who will give the squad a strong option for the flatter, fast stages and will be supported by Ethiopian rider Tsgabu Grmay, Australian powerhouses Callum Scotson and Michael Hepburn, plus Kazakh climber Andrey Zeits.

Olympic team pursuit bronze medalist, Australian rider Kelland O’Brien, will join Team BikeExchange at the CRO race as as stagiaire rider for the remainder of the 2021 season.

With a varied parcours, the team head into the six-day race with a two-pronged approach, as Yates leads the team’s overall classification ambitions, while fast finisher Groves looks to throw his arms in the air in some of the potential sprint finishes.

Team BikeExchange at the Tour of Croatia:
Kaden Groves (AUS)
Michael Hepburn (AUS)
Kelland O’Brien (AUS) Stagiaire*
Callum Scotson
Grmay Tsgabu (ETH)
Simon Yates (GBR)
Andrey Zeits (KAZ)

Kaden Groves

“I am really looking forward to the Tour of Croatia, we have a good team which can target both of our goals, the overall and stage wins. My condition is really good and I’m expecting it to be even better now having some race exposure after a long time off racing due to injury. 

Having Kell O’Brian with us in the team is also a big plus, he brings a lot of horsepower and it’ll be a good experience for him to ride with us in this final part of the season as a stagiaire.

It will be my first time racing in Croatia but having looked at the stages I am confident in our team and I am keen to get on the start line.”

Matt White – Head Sport Director
“We are all excited about heading back to CRO Tour. Our last trip resulted in a win for former rider Adam Yates, back in 2019 and this year we head back with similar ambitions.

We have a well-rounded team with Kaden Groves as our fast man and Simon Yates for the tougher, hillier stages. The tour has a bit for everyone, and we are looking to finish off the 2021 season strong.”

2021 Tour of Croatia Race Details:
Tuesday, 28th September: Stage 1, Osijek to Varazdin, 237km
Wednesday, 29th September: Stage 2, Slujn to Otocac, 187km
Thursday, 30th September: Stage 3, Rimosten to Makarska, 167km
Friday, 1st October: Stage 4, Zadar to Crikvenica, 197km
Saturday, 2nd October: Stage 5, Rabac/Labin to Opatija, 137.5km
Sunday, 3rd October: Stage 6, Samobor to Zagreb, 156.5km 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

— Team BikeExchange to www.greenedgecycling.com

TNN back to favoured hunting ground at Okolo Slovenska

Team Novo Nordisk are set for a swift return to stage racing action this week at the five-day Okolo Slovenska/Tour de Slovaquie as the world’s first all diabetes professional cycling team looks to repeat some of their positive performances on Slovakian roads from previous years.

Last year’s edition saw Italian sprinter Andrea Peron consistently around the top ten and the versatile Paduan will line up again this time alongside in form Spanish climber David Lozano and fellow Italian Umberto Poli after a solid top 20 result at Sunday’s GP de Fourmies.

Okolo Slovenska is a race that has been good to us and not in terms of results,” said General Manager Vassili Davidekno. “We have always received great support from the Slovakian affiliates of our sponsors Novo Nordisk and that has allowed us to spread our message of inspiration to the Diabetes community in Slovakia. And we are very thankful for that.”

Irishman Stephen Clancy returns with Brit Sam Brand travelling straight from GP de Fourmies and Finnish champion Joonas Henttala and French sprinter Mehdi Benhamouda rounding out the squad.

“I like this race a lot,” said Peron. “There’s a good amount of diversity across the five stages and historically we have performed well in Slovakia, so we will definitely be aiming for more of the same.”

Totalling close to 700km of cross nation racing over all terrain, the 2021 edition mirrors previous years by starting with a short, fast prologue before getting down to business with four punchy road stages. The hardest of which comes on Saturday with 193.2km and four second category climbs to contend with.

“We know how challenging this race is,” continued Davidenko. “It’s not our first time, but every year can be different, and we need to be prepared for every outcome. 2021 continues to be a special year for us with the 100th anniversary of insulin and we return to this year’s race with our Finnish national road champion Joonas Henttala and a strong team ready to race. Stages like these can be great opportunities to get up the road in the breakaway and we have options for the climbs also the finals.”

Certainly, the two riders showing late season form are Lozano and Peron with each finishing at the front of reduced groups in recent races and the aim being to carry the form and confidence into these last objectives.

“Considering the crash, I was involved in at Besançon and how hard I went down,” explained Peron. “I am really happy with how it went at GP de Fourmies yesterday. I had a bit of a hard time training during the week and had some muscle pain in my inner thigh, but I felt really good in Fourmies and that’s the sensation that I’ll be looking to take with us to Slovakia.”

Team Novo Nordisk at Okolo Slovenska, 15th – 19th September:

Sam Brand (GBR, 30)

Mehdi Benhamouda (FR, 26)

Stephen Clancy (IRL, 29)

Joonas Henttala (FIN, 30)

David Lozano (ESP, 32)

Andrea Peron (IT, 32)

Umberto Poli (IT, 25)


Wednesday 15th September, Prologue: Kosice – Kosice, 1.6km

Thursday 16th September, Stage 1: Kosice – Kosice, 158.4km

Friday 17th September, Stage 2: Spisske Podhradie – Dolny Kubin, 179.7km

Saturday 18th September, Stage 3: Dolny Kubin – Povazska Bystrica, 193.2km

Sunday 19th September, Stage 4: Trencianske Teplice – Trnava, 159.2km

— Tim Lindley to www.teamnovonordisk.com