Five at 5.45: Giro martyrdom

Thomas à Beckett to Lotto-Soudal?
Suffering. Brutality. Now martyrdom. Professional cycling’s lexicon of hurt has been expanded by Louis Vervaeke, Lotto Soudal’s 21-year-old climber, who has described his experience at this year’s Giro d’Italia, his debut Grand Tour, as “a long martyrdom”.
Vervaeke has escalated the ordeal of the salaried rider to new heights: Jean d’Arc, lest we forget, never faced the Mortirolo. With Jurgen Van den Broeck (pictured) leaving for Katusha on a one-year deal for 2016, Marc Sergeant might be seeking a replacement with Vervaeke’s tolerance for sacrifice. Thomas à Beckett might yet don the red and white jersey.
Rapha Wrap Up
After three years of supplying kit to Team Sky, Rapha have decided not to renew their sponsorship deal at the end of the next season. During this time, the partnership has generated two Tour de France wins and a World Champion’s jersey in 2014. Adidas supplied Team Sky for the first two years of the British team’s existence. Simon Mottram’s firm will continue to supply Team Wiggins, perhaps offering a window on the comparative marketability, in British territories at least, of Team Sky and its former leader.
Return of the Vos
After missing almost the entirety of the 2015 season due to injury, Marianne Vos is finally back training with her focus on the 2016 Olympic Road Race. Vos is a seven-time cyclo-cross World Champion but she will miss the whole ‘cross season this year to ensure she’s fit for the 2016 road season. To find other riders who have returned from serious injury visit our cycling shortlist here.
Ciao Ciolek
Gerald Ciolek has confirmed he is moving to the CULT Energy-Stölting Group team from next year. The German has had a difficult final two years with MTN-Qhubeka, especially after his 2013 success. That year he won Milan-Sanremo and four other races. CULT Energy will be Ciolek’s seventh team of his career and he is now running out of time to reach the levels his talent suggested in 2006. The German will join back up with another unfulfilled talent, Linus Gerdemann. The pair have followed a similarly downward career trajectory since leaving Columbia-High Road in 2008.
Koppenbergcross remains a stronghold for British women
Nikki Harris extended the presence of British women on the podium at the Koppenbergcross last weekend with third place behind Jolien Verschueren and Femke Van Den Driessche. Harris’ closest rival, Helen Wyman, was champion of the Koppenbergcross three times in four years between 2010 and 2013. She finished fourth at this year’s race, continuing a fascinating season-by-season duel with Wyman. The pair have shared the British title in the last six years, with Wyman, the reigning champion, winng five titles to Harris’ one. 

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