The return of Jungels and bidding farewell to Gastauer
Spotlight on Luxembourgish riders If Bob Jungels will mark his return to the peloton on September 14, the 81st edition of the Škoda Tour de Luxembourg will also mark the end of Ben Gastauer's career. 93 days after a 19th place at the Tour de Suisse and after recovering from an iliac artery endofibrosis operation Bob Jungels is about to rediscover the scent of competition. Winner of a stage in 2013 and two top 10 stage positions (9th in 2012 and 5th in 2013), the former national champion is about to compete in the Tour de Luxembourg for the third time in his career. Although he has enjoyed the race in the past, it is in a supporting role for Ben O’Connor and Benoît Cosnefroy that he will take the start. “The goal is to regain confidence and have some fun in the race before showing what I’m really able to do next year,” he said. Still within the AG2R-Citroën formation, it will reign like a scent of nostalgia during the week. As he turns 34 in November, Ben Gastauer will compete in his final race for Vincent Lavenu's team. He has been struggling with an injury for months and as a result has not been able to train properly. This has consequently led him to the decision to end his career after 12 years with the French team. This Tuesday, September 14, he will take the start of the Tour de Luxembourg for the fourth time. “It's a great way to end my career at home in front of my family and friends. " Alex Kirsch is another regular at the Grand Ducal event. The Luxembourger of the Trek-Segafredo tea, will line up for the 8th time at the Škoda Tour. In addition to his 3rd place in the final classification in 2016, he notably collected the places of honor on the stages with two 2nd places and three 3rd places. Alongside Vincenzo Nibali, Mads Pedersen and Bauke Mollema, the 29-year-old is hoping to take the lead after competing in the Tour of Spain in recent weeks (120th in the final standings). Following on from the Schleck family a few years ago, two other brothers proudly wear the Luxembourg colours: Tom and Luc Wirtgen. The eldest (25 years old) remains on a successful performance in the Tour of Portugal with a podium and two 8th places. For his 5th participation in this event, morale and confidence are in order. The same applies for Luc (23) who is also approaching his home race in good condition. During the month of August, he distinguished himself with a 15th place in the Artic Race of Norway, 14th in the Tour du Limousin and 9th in the Tour du Jura. For his only participation in the Škoda Tour in 2018, the Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces WB rider unfortunately had to leave the race after the 2nd stage. A second appearance is also the case for Arthur Kluckers. A year ago, the young Leopard Pro Cycling rider discovered the Tour de Luxembourg by securing a 75th place in the final standings. At 21, the national U23 champion hopes to confirm his excellent dispositions and forget his crash during the 4th stage of the Tour de l'Avenir which forced him to abandon. Still within the only Luxembourgish squad, we will find Cédric Pries. In 2019, in the jersey of the national team, he left the race on the 1st stage. At almost 21 years, the former VC Schengen rider intends to set the record straight. Ben Gastauer's jubilee Loyalty and discretion are among the qualities that best suit Ben Gastauer. In 12 years of professional cycling, he has remained committed to the same colours. After fine-tuning his development within the Chambéry Cyclisme Formation structure until 2009, he joined the professional peloton in 2010. "His loyalty and kindness will leave a lasting impression of his time in the team", comments team manager Vincent Lavenu. A model teammate, Gastauer has achieved 3 successes in the professional peloton. In 2012, he won the tricolore jersey of national time trial champion and three years later, in 2015, he won a stage and the final classification of the Tour du Haut Var. In addition to his distinctions, the Luxembourger has also taken part in many classics and 13 grand tours: 6 Giro (1 retirement), 4 Tour de France (1 retirement) and 2 Vuelta. The 2014 edition of the Grande Boucle will remain as one of his greatest moments with a 20th place in the final classification but above all a first place in the team classification and the podium of the Champs-Elysées with his partners from the time. "He was an essential element in our team victory in the Tour", remembers the manager of the AG2R structure. Gastauer added: "We have accomplished great things together, notably the podiums of Jean-Christophe Péraud and Romain Bardet at the Tour de France, which will remain some of my fondest memories". As a farewell gift, Gastauer will be able to perform one last time at home, "a great way for me to end my career. It’s rare to have a whole career at the same team and I’m very happy to have had this opportunity ”.