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Formolo signs with Bora-Hansgrohe to target Grand Tours

Bennett, Pfingsten, Schwarzmann and Selig extend with German WorldTour team

Bora-Hansgrohe has announced that Italy’s Davide Formolo will ride for the German WorldTour team for the 2018 and 2019 seasons as he continues to develop as a Grand Tour and stage race rider. The 24-year-old from Verona finished ninth in the 2016 Vuelta a Espana and tenth in this year’s Giro d’Italia while riding with the Cannondale-Drapac team. He won a stage in the 2015 Giro.

Bora-Hansgrohe also confirmed contract extensions for Irish sprinter Sam Bennett, Michael Schwarzmann, Christoph Pfingsten and lead-out rider Rudi Selig. Bora-Hansgrohe has already confirmed the signing of Britain’s Pete Kennaugh and Italy’s Daniel Oss, who will play a key role helping team leader Peter Sagan in the cobbled Classics.

Cannondale-Drapac is expected to secure Rigoberto Uran as its Tour de France leader for the next three years after securing new sponsorship for the 2018 season,but has lost other riders. Alberto Bettiol has agreed to ride for BMC in 2018, Kristijan Koren has agreed terms with Bahrain-Merida, and Davide Villella has signed for Astana.

“We are proud to welcome Davide in our Bora–Hansgrohe team. He is a talented rider, in Italy people talk of him being the next Ivan Basso. For us he will be an important rider for the Grand Tours but we also think he can play a big role in the Ardennes Classics,” team manager Ralph Denk said.

“Already when he was very young he did some impressive results, now it’s our turn to help him to take the next step in his career.

“It was also very important to me to extend our relationship with Sam Bennett. With his win in Paris-Nice he proved again to be one of the fastest riders in the peloton, and we think there is still room for improvements. With Rudi Selig we have an important helper in the lead-outs.”

Formolo is popular in Italy and showed his Grand Tour potential this year by fighting for a top ten placing in the mountains. He is expected to ride the Vuelta a Espana with Cannondale-Drapac.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to leave my old team, I had a great time there and we achieved a lot together. But it is impressive how fast Bora–Hansgrohe develops as a WorldTeam and that appealed to me. Now I am delighted to take on a new challenge with them,” Formolo said in a statement from the team.

Kung survives stressful first day as leader of the Binck Bank Tour

BMC rider retains race lead despite late crash

Stefan Kung’s second stint in a WorldTour leader’s jersey proved a stressful affair at the BinckBank Tour on Wednesday but the BMC rider retained the green and black jersey. Kung wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse but was unable to defend the lead for more than a day.

Having taken the leader’s jersey after his stage 2 time trial win, Kung successful navigated a challenging stage 3 and continues to lead Maciej Bodnar (Bora-Hansgrohe) by four seconds, and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) by five seconds. The 23-year-old finished 42nd in Ardooie in the peloton at the same time as stage winner Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). Sagan is now fourth overall, also at five seconds.

“It was a pretty stressful and nervous day. There was a little bit of wind but not that much. Everyone was nervous and you could also tell that everyone was in good shape because they started panicking early,” Kung reflected.

“I need to say a big thanks to my team. They did a really good job today. First pulling at the front and then protecting me and keeping me out of trouble when it was a little chaotic and overall today went quite well for us. Jempy Drucker tried something and Loïc Vliegen was up there in the sprint so it was a good day for the team and I am happy to still be in the leader’s jersey.”

Having taken a 10-second time bonus for his stage win, Sagan cut the deficit back to five seconds on the GC with Kung naming the world champion as a genuine threat to his overall lead.

“It is nice to keep the jersey, and we will try to continue to hold on to it but Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) looked in strong form, and now he is within five seconds of the overall lead,” he said. “You never know what will happen so we will keep fighting.”

It wasn’t just Kung who found the day a stressful affair with sports director Valerio Piva explaining he was pleased to have made it safely through after a tumultuous finale.

“Unfortunately the rain started around four kilometres from the finish and from then it was really dangerous and chaotic,” said Piva.

“We controlled the race from the beginning and then heading into the second half of the race the sprinters’ teams came up to help. The race was under control, but because of the shower, the race was chaos at the end and with the late crash, the time was neutralized.”

Piva added that having seen his team commit to defending Kung’s jersey, he is confident of success but wary of the challenge poised by Sagan.

“Jempy Drucker made a good move by attacking and was just caught in the closing meters. Loïc Vliegen was also good in the finish and took fifth. Our plan was to do the sprint with Jempy, and we saw him try to win the stage in the final,” said Piva.

“We also were able to defend the jersey, and although Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was able to take ten bonus seconds today, everyone is still motivated to work hard and fight for Stefan Küng’s position at the top of the GC. Tomorrow will be a similar day to today I think, but then the next few stages are very difficult, so we will see what happens.”

Ian Boswell signs for Katusha-Alpecin

American moves across from Team Sky on two-year deal

American Ian Boswell will leave Team Sky at the end of the season having penned a two-year deal with Katusha-Alpecin. The 26-year-old rode with Argos-Shimano in 2012 as a stagiaire before joining Sky in 2013.

He is the second official signing for Katusha-Alpecin after Nathan Haas.

“I am very excited about Team Katusha-Alpecin. After 5 years in the same team, it is a big but important step for my own development,” said Boswell, who becomes the first American to sign for Katusha.

“The talks with José Azevedo were very good from the beginning and I liked where he sees me as a rider. I hope to bring my experience into the team and look forward to race with strong riders like Ilnur Zakarin or Simon Špilak. And of course, also to be able to ride for the victory one time or another for myself.”

During his time with Sky, Boswell has twice ridden the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d’Italia in 2016. A talented climber capable of riding GC, Boswell’s personal opportunities have been limited as Sky. Although he has impressed when given the chance with fifth overall at the Tour of California and top three on stages at the Vuelta, Giro del Trentino and Tour of California.

For general manager José Azevedo, Boswell is a rider full of promise and potential as he explained.

“I am really happy to have Ian Boswell with us. He brings a lot of experience with him and I believe in him. The time has come that Ian can make the shift from his domestique role to one as a leader,” Azevedo said. “The reason why we’ve contracted him is because we trust him. In five years with Team Sky he shown to be reliable, and also in three Grand Tours. In this year’s Tour of California he showed no problem in assuming the role as a leader. We haven’t seen the best of Ian yet. Ian is not only loyal, but strong and promising as well.”

While the team has bade farewell to Angel Vicioso Arcos (Retires), Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Rein Taaramäe (Direct Energie), Katusha-Alpecin has re-signed Ilnur Zakarin, Simon Spilak, Tiago Machado, José Gonçalves, Reto Hollenstein, Jhonatan Restrepo, Pavel Kochetkov, and Maxim Belkov.

Vincenzo Nibali hitting form ahead of Vuelta a Espana

2010 champion wary of multiple rivals in bid for fifth Grand Tour win

A Vuelta a Espana winner on his debut at the Spanish Grand Tour in 2010, Vincenzo Nibali is aiming to banish his memories from 2015 and challenge for the victory in 2017.

Nibali was the first winner of the race following the leader’s jersey change from gold to red. He enjoyed a second stint in red in 2013 for 13 days, only to fade in the final days as American Chris Horner took the overall win by 37 seconds.

The Vuelta has a special place in Nibali’s palmares as the first of his four Grand Tour wins.

Nibali’s return to the Vuelta in 2015 was short lived as he was disqualified on stage 2 for holding onto his then Astana team car. While Nibali struggled with the decision, having finished fourth at the Tour de France in July of that year, teammate Fabio Aru took the overall win and relieved the pressure after Nibali’s expulsion.

In his first season with Bahrain-Merida, Nibali was third overall at the Giro d’Italia in May and is now focused on the Vuelta. It will be the fourth time that the Italian has done the Giro, Vuelta double.

“I’m happy with the answers I got about my state of form. I was returning from a period of altitude training so I knew that I couldn’t be super competitive in Poland. Bearing this in mind, this ninth-place inclines me to say that I’ve worked well and I’ll be in top shape for La Vuelta,” said Nibali after the Tour de Pologne where he was ninth overall.

“I’ve always liked La Vuelta. I have won it and the courses in Spain suit me. As always, I’ll start to give my best and everyone will see on September 10 what I mean now.”

While Nibali has twice finished on the Vuelta podium and worn the leader’s jersey for 20 days, he has just one stage win at the race from 2010. With numerous stages suited to his climbing characteristics, Nibali could well add to his haul but it yet to acquaint himself with the finer details of the road book.

I don’t know all the uphill finishes but some of them, I do! I know l’Alto de l’Angliru particularly well while for the other climbs, I’ll ask my friend ‘Purito’. On paper, it looks to me like a “standard” Vuelta: hard and demanding,” he said of the penultimate stage.

With a stacked start list of GC riders that includes the returning Alberto Contador, Tour de France champion Chris Froome, 2015 Vuelta winner Fabio Aru, Tour de France runner-up Romain Bardet, last year’s Vuelta podium finisher Esteban Chaves, Adam and Simon Yates and numerous more names, Nibali is wary of his rivals.

They’re all great riders and it guarantees a nice spectacle,” he said of the depth. “Some come from the Tour de France and others have done the Giro d’Italia with me but all can target the podium or the final victory. I don’t think there’s one clear favorite. Moreover, I believe the course can generate some surprises.

Bahrain-Merida’s long list for the Vuelta includes several of Nibali’s trusted Grand Tour domestiques in Valerio Agnoli, Franco Pellizotti and Giovanni Visconti. Also making the cut are Manuele Boaro, Ivan Cortina Garcia, Javier Moreno, Antonio Nibali, Domen Novak, and Tsgabu Grmay.

The 2017 Vuelta a Espana starts August 19 with a team time trial in Nimes and will conclude in Madrid on September 10. A winner of the team time trial with Astana in 2013, Nibali will be hoping Bahrain-Merida can replicate the success and start the Vuelta on the front foot in his bid for a fifth Grand Tour victory.

No Bay Cycling Classic in 2018

Calendar clash forces post-ponement of Australian season opener

Facing the possibility of a reduced two-day Bay Cycling Classic for 2018, race director John Trevorrow has announced the event will not be held next year. Traditionally held from January 1 as a lead into the Australian national championships, the Geelong ‘Bay Crits’ has attracted the fastest men and women from Australia and the world.

JLT Condor’s Ian Bibby won the men’s title this year while the women’s title was won by Valentina Scandolara.

“I can assure you that the event will be back bigger and better than ever in 2019,” Trevorrow explained. “With the Australian Road championships starting on January 3rd, it meant the Bay Crits either ran as a two-day series starting on Jan 1 or changed dates to late December or after the Jayco Herald Sun Tour in February. I don’t believe these dates suit the event and I do not want to impact on the Christmas track carnivals any more than we have had to in the past.”

Trevorrow, who is also the race director of the Herald Sun Tour, added that he believes the race will be back in 2019. However, the Australian nationals would need to move back one week. The nationals in recent years have started on a Wednesday with evening criteriums. January 1, 2019 is a Tuesday and the ‘bay crits’ would face the same dilemma if there is no change to the racing calendar.

“We plan to bring the Bay Crits back to start the year in 2019. The racing has always been great, but we plan to bring in more razzamataz and entertainment plus more public involvement,” added  Trevorrow. “Events such as the Bay Cycling Classic just don’t happen. It takes a strong team and some quality partners to make a truly great event. The Bay Classic has had that in spades.

“I would like to congratulate the team at GTR Events for helping elevate the race in recent years and to sincerely thank our commercial partners, local council partners and State Government, most who have been with us for many years, and look forward to working with you all again in the coming years.”

Robbie McEwen holds the record for the most men’s overall wins with six while Anna Wilson is the most successful women with four wins.

Team Rwanda set for biggest race to date in Colorado

African team returns to US after 10-year hiatus

Team Rwanda will compete in a 2.HC race for the first time this week when the Colorado Classic rolls out of Colorado Springs for stage 1 on Thursday.

The start in Colorado Springs will be the culmination of several years of work to bring the African team back to the States after it competed here in two national calendar events in its inaugural year, 2007, at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico and the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in Oregon.

The Continental team was made famous in the 2012 movie ‘Rising from the Ashes,’ which depicted the Rwandan national team’s determination to rise out of the 1994 genocide and compete in the 2012 Olympics road race.

Five years on from that effort, the team and its 35 riders have grown to the point that they can compete internationally, Adrien Niyonshutiriding in the 2012 London Olympic Games in mountain biking, and, most recently, Joseph Areruya (Dimension Data for Qhubeka) winning a stage this year in the U23 Baby Giro.

The six-man squad in Colorado includes Jean Claude Uwizeye, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Gasore Hategeka and Didier Munyaneza.

“We’ve been working for the last four years with Colorado,” team manager Kimberly Coats told Cyclingnews last month at the Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon, where the team raced as a warm up for Colorado.

“We have a sports marketing group in Colorado that really helps us,” she said. “The timing was just never right. The money was never there, etc., etc. And then this year it all came together. They found a sponsor for us, Thorne Research, and here we are.”

The team wanted to compete in the Cascade Classic, the 38-year-old national calendar event that was on the UCI America Tour this year as a 2.2 race, to get a the riders’ feet wet in American racing, including bigger fields and US-style criteriums.

“In Africa, we race in fields of like 80, max,” Coats said. “And here it’s 200, so day one was frightening. We had a really bad crash on the first stage. Jean Claude Uwizeye actually ended up on a spare bike and rode 90 miles. He ended up having stitches in his hand and road rash everywhere. He started the TT but he was just too sore.

“He’s the only one who didn’t finish,” Coats added. “Everyone else has made the cut and done well. We made it through the crit, which for us, we don’t do crits in Africa. There’s just nothing. But they actually looked like they were having fun out there.”

Ukiniwabo was the team’s best-placed finisher in 55th, more than 13 minutes behind winner Robin Carpenter (Holowesko-Citadel). Nsengimana scored the team’s best stage results with 30th in the time trial.

Coats said the team’s best chances for success in Colorado will likely come during the climbing stage in Brecknridge, where the peloton will climb Moonstone Road at altitude multiple times during the circuit race there.

Results in Colorado will be appreciably harder to come by, but Coats and the team are happy knowing the program has grown to the point where riders are able to race at the highest level.

“I was just talking with Peter Stetina after he won on stage 3 and congratulated him; he had sent us some things to Rwanda,” Coats said last month at the Cascade Classic. “He said, ‘You know what, your guys are the real deal.’ Coming from somebody like Peter, that was huge. He goes, ‘They were throwing attacks. They were there. They were in the mix.’

“So I think for us, we like the publicity and everything to our program, but more importantly, I want the world to see that they are the real deal. The only things we lack are just opportunity and equipment to races to travel, etc.,” Coats said.

“That’s exactly what we’re hoping, and, you know, just Bend has been huge for us. We’ve gotten a lot of publicity. And Colorado has been really good, and we’re hoping for even bigger things, too.”


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