News Round-up: Wout van Aert expands autumn schedule, Sam Oomen signs for Lidl-Trek

We also bring you news on Lachlan Morton's Great Divide FKT attempt, a possible foreign start for the 2024 Vuelta a España, and all the thoughts emerging from this Vuelta's final rest day

Clock19:20, Monday 11th September 2023
Wout van Aert winning the recent Tour of Britain

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Wout van Aert winning the recent Tour of Britain

Wout van Aert adds more races to his 2023 calendar

Wout van Aert's original racing calendar for Jumbo-Visma over the closing months of the road season was relatively sparse, with the Tour of Britain only preceding the Super 8 Classic and the European Championship road race. However, in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, he has revealed that he will also do a short spell of racing in Italy before the Gravel World Championships in October.

Van Aert's final appearance in Belgium remains the Super 8 Classic, where he will go up against Mathieu van der Poel for the last time before the cyclo-cross season, but he will also add the European Championship time trial to his schedule, alongside Coppa Bernocchi and Gran Piemonte in early October.

Read more:

"The coming weeks are busy," admits Van Aert. “I will still ride the Super 8 Classic, the time trial and road race at the European Championships, Coppa Bernocchi, Gran Piemonte and the Gravel World Championships. I still want to end the season well.”

The two Italian races will fit in well with Van Aert's plans, with the Gran Piemonte taking place on October 5 and the Gravel World Championships being held just three days later in the Veneto region of Italy.

Lidl-Trek make their ninth signing of the transfer window with Sam Oomen from Jumbo-Visma

Sam Oomen has joined the likes of Tao Geoghegan Hart, Carlos Verona and Jonathan Milan in putting pen to paper on a deal with Lidl-Trek for 2024 and beyond. The Dutch climber will bolster the American team's ranks to support Geoghegan Hart, alongside the recent additions of Andrea Bagioli and Patrick Konrad.

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"I’ve always had a good connection with Tao Geoghegan Hart, who I’ve already known since we raced as juniors," revealed Oomen. "Being teammates with him after all these years racing together and against each other is really exciting.

“I hope to be a bit more consistent again. After my injury and some rough crashes I for sure had some good moments but lacked the consistency required to step up another level. For sure my strength lies in the hilly stage races and I have a big love for the long hilly classics."

Lidl-Trek have had an influx of money since Lidl came onboard as the new title sponsor ahead of the Tour de France, and this budget has been flexed since the cycling transfer window opened on August 1.

Read more: Pro cycling transfers – every move for the 2024 season

Oomen made his breakthrough on the WorldTour with Giant-Alpecin - now dsm-firmenich - in 2016, winning the Tour de l'Ain and finishing ninth at the 2018 Giro d'Italia with the team.

The Dutchman helped teammate Tom Dumoulin to finish second in that race, before making the move to Jumbo-Visma in 2021. Since then, Oomen has struggled for consistency at times but has still helped Primož Roglič to two Grand Tour wins - the Vuelta a España in 2021 and the Giro d'Italia earlier this season.

“I met with Sam several years ago as a young rider on the start of his journey as a professional cyclist. Whilst he raced for a different team, meeting him left a positive impression and of course I have followed his progression over the years," said Lidl-Trek general manager Luca Guercilena.

"We’ve seen Sam ride as an important helper for his leaders in Grand Tours, including being on the winning team twice. It’s our hope that he can help us to do the same in the future.”

Lisbon may host Vuelta a España start for first time since 1997

As reported by AS in Spain, Lisbon is a strong candidate to host the Gran Partida (otherwise known as the Grand Départ) of the 2024 Vuelta a España. The Portuguese capital is likely to be named the fifth foreign start in the race's 88-year history, with the Vuelta's organisers Unipublic currently in talks with a number of locations before making the final decision.

Speaking to AS back in March, Vuelta race director Javier Guillén spoke of the success of the Gran Partidas to date.

"What was experienced in Utrecht [2022] was a success. We have many requests to start abroad. In the next four years, we will see at least one from outside Spain."

Indeed, the Gran Partida from the Netherlands last year was the Vuelta's most recent foreign depart, preceded by Nîmes (France) in 2017, Assen (the Netherlands) in 2009 and funnily enough, Libson in 1997.

Read more: Nine more surprising facts about the Vuelta a España

This year's race began in Barcelona and whilst the departure city for the following edition is usually known by the start of this year's race, no such revelation has yet been made by the Vuelta.

Unlike the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, which have long begun on foreign soil upon occasion, the Vuelta did not begin outside of Spain for the first time until Lisbon was given the honour in 1997. The event proved a success and, just four years later, the Portuguese city held the UCI Road World Championships, with the elite men's race won by Spain's Óscar Freire.

Portugal had their first road race world champion 12 years on, when Rui Costa emerged victorious in Florence, Italy. The Intermarché-Circus-Wanty veteran recently won stage 15 of the Vuelta and would surely love to be at the start next season if Lisbon gets the nod as the host city, as too would UAE Team Emirates' João Almeida, a fellow Portuguese.

Read more: Rui Costa produces wily racecraft to win stage 15 of the Vuelta a España

Sepp Kuss: 'I’m feeling really good and I’m looking forward to this week'

By Patrick Fletcher

Sepp Kuss has stated he expects “no gifts” as he heads into the final week of the Vuelta a España in the overall lead but trailed by his two teammates, Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard.

“In cycling, there are no gifts, or letting off; when you feel good you can’t just hold off,” said in a rest day interview with Belgian broadcaster, Sporza. In what seemed like a key phrase, he added: “It’s fair that way.”

Kuss is usually found sacrificing himself for the ambitions of his more decorated teammates, and has helped them each win a Grand Tour this season alone, Roglič taking the Giro d’Italia and Vingegaard the Tour de France.

At the Vuelta, however, he finds himself in an unusual position, gaining time in an opening-week breakaway and passing critical tests in the form of the stage 10 time trial and two days in the Pyrenees to take the red jersey into the final week.

“The past weeks have been the ones with the most new experiences and also beautiful experiences, and the next week is one that, even without being in this position, I’d be looking forward to. I love the climbs in Cantabria and Asturias, they’re my kind of climbs, the steep climbs you see in the Vuelta. I’m feeling really good and I’m looking forward to this week."

Read more: Sepp Kuss expects 'no gifts' from Roglic and Vingegaard at Vuelta a España

Lachlan Morton breaks the Great Divide record after 12 days of riding

By James Howell-Jones

At 9:24pm on Sunday, September 10, Lachlan Morton arrived at the US border with Mexico, marking the end of his record-breaking attempt of the Great Divide mountain bike route.

He completed the 4296km mountain bike route in 12 days, 12 hours and 21 minutes, unofficially breaking the long-held record of 13 days, 22 hours and 51 minutes set in 2016 by ultra-distance legend, the late Mike Hall.

This fastest known time (FKT) attempt may remain unofficial for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Morton was accompanied by a film crew, which could discount the validity of this record as an 'unsupported' ride, even though Morton was self-sufficient en route.

Secondly, the route itself has undergone various changes in the seven years since Hall claimed the FKT, making it difficult to compare attempts. Hall's ride was 4366km – almost 70km further than Morton's recent attempt.

The ride wasn't without its hiccups. On day 11, his derailleur stopped working. Morton did everything he could to resolve it, telling his film crew that evening: "I kicked it as hard as I could and then it started working again."

Alas, within five minutes it was off again, and for the rest of the day, it was temperamental. To make it to the finish, Morton bodged the derailleur with a spare spoke, shoving it into the mech so he could manually shift between the gears.

Morton has used the ride to raise funds for Adventure for All, with the total so far at over $20,000, and donations still coming in.

Read more: Lachlan Morton, with a spoke in his derailleur, breaks Great Divide record

From an octopus’ garden in the shade, it is time to bid adieu. Until the next time.

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