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Caja Rural rider in familiar situation to end of 2012
David de la Fuente finds himself in almost the identical position as this time last year – the Spaniard is once again without a team for the coming season. His current Caja Rural squad did not renew his contract after reportedly promising him a spot on the team for 2013.
"I was saying all year, since I signed in January, I would do another year [with Caja Rural]," de la Fuente told El Pedal de Frodo. I was thinking I was going to do well this year so I chose to wait till later before signing.
"Then we left for the Vuelta and I was told they had me one hundred percent, until we specify the quantities and all ... On the last day of the Vuelta I was told the contract would come in two days and never came," he said.
De la Fuente’s finished second overall in the Vuelta a España’s climbing classification – won by Australia’s Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) however, it’s been a while since the trusted domestique took a victory.
The 2009 GP Miguel Indurain was de la Fuente’s most recent victory and despite being part of Alberto Contador’s winning Astana team at the 2010 Tour de France and a right-hand man to the 2011 Vuelta champion Juan José Cobo, the 31-year-old is facing possible retirement.
"Although this time and getting used to the idea that life has its phases for a rider and perhaps because of how bad this cycling, mine is running out," said de la Fuente.
The rider who has finished in the top-three...
Young Dutchman to debut at the Tour Down Under
Vacansoleil-DCM has announced the signing of Boy van Poppel, confirming that the young Dutchman will make his debut for the WorldTour team at the Tour Down Under in Australia.
Van Poppel rode in the USA with the UnitedHealthCare team in 2011 and 2012 but will now be united with his father Jean Paul, who is a directeur sportif with Vacansoleil-DCM, as well as his brother Danny, who is a neo-pro with the team.
24 year-old Van Poppel has a fast finish and had five top ten finishes in the Tour of Britain, going on to finish eighth overall.
Directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren said: "Despite a limited number of race days, the relative number of top-10 places is very high. This is an indication that Boy is often in the finale of races and often has a go in the sprints. That's enough to earn him a place with Vacansoleil-DCM. He's young and is not an expensive rider and so fits perfectly with the vision of the team."
Boy van Poppel will make his debut in the dark blue Vacansoleil-DCM colours at the Tour Down Under, which starts on Sunday January 20, with the warm-up People's Choice Classic criterium.
Also in the Vacansoleil-DCM squad are Thomas De Gendt, Kenny Van Hummel, Willem Wauters, Tomasz Marczynski, Barry Markus and Rafael Valls.
BMC rider celebrates his wedding anniversary in hospital and tweets from his bed
Alessandro Ballan celebrated his wedding anniversary with his wife Daniela in the intensive care unit of Denia hospital in Spain but is expected to return to Italy in the next few days after recovering well from surgery.
Ballan crashed at high speed on December 20 during a training camp, fracturing his left femur and three ribs. Doctors decided to remove his spleen and operated on his femur on Friday but opted not to remove a kidney that was also damaged when Ballan crashed into to a wall.
"We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Alessandro's condition is getting better and better, so much so that he is expected to be taken out of intensive care and moved to a normal hospital ward," BMC team doctor Max Testa told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I spoke to Ballan and his morale seems good. I told him that the team is organising his flight to Italy with a special company so that he avoids any risks. The best thing is if he waits a few more days. He told me that the hospital in Denia has treated him really well and agree with his plans of when to return to Italy."
Ballan's wife Daniela traveled to Spain as soon as she was informed of the accident. The two spent Christmas together and celebrated their eighth wedding anniversary together in hospital.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Ballan's BMC teammates Steve Morabito and Ivan Santaromita will visit him in hospital after traveling to Denia for warm-weather training. The BMC training camp will begin in the Spanish town on January 12.
Ballan has already tweeted from hospital, describing his cardiac monitor as his Christmas tree and posting a photo of himself with a thumbs up. Ballan's Twitter name account is @aleballan79.
Team Sky leader's possible race calendar revealed
Bradley Wiggins is expected to ride Tirreno-Adriatico for the first time in his career as part of his early-season race calendar and preparation for the Giro d'Italia in May.
According to the Spanish Biciciclismo website, which has been reported by L'Equipe and Gazzetta dello Sport, Wiggins will make his 2013 season debut at the Volta ao Algarve in February. He will then forgo defending his victory at Paris-Nice to ride Tirreno-Adriatico (March 6-12) and head to Spain for the Volta a Catalunya (March 18-24).
Depending on his form Wiggins will ride the Giro del Trentino (April 16-19) or the Tour de Romandie (April 23-28) before traveling to Italy for the start of the Giro d'Italia on May 4.
With the Tour de France starting on June 29, Wiggins would have 34 days to rest up and recover after the Giro d'Italia ends in Brescia on May 26.
Wiggins is again expected to mix stage races with sessions at altitude on El Teide on the island of Tenerife.
The 2012 Tour de France winner has hinted he will target the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France double in 2013 in the hope of becoming the first rider to win the sport's two toughest stage races in the same season since Marco Pantani in 1998.
Only seven riders have done the Giro-Tour double: Fausto Coppi: 1949, 1952; Jacques Anquetil: 1964; Eddy Merckx: 1970, 1972, 1974; Bernard Hinault: 1982, 1985; Stephen Roche: 1987; Miguel Indurain: 1992, 1993; and Marco Pantani: 1998.