Adam Yates and Romain Bardet looking forward to the 2017 Saitama Critérium
Fourth place finisher and best young rider from the 2016 Tour de France, Adam Yates, will make his Saitama Critérium debut this Saturday in Japan with the 24-year old looking forward to the experience. Yates will be joining the likes of three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, Tour KOM winner Rafal Majka and world champion Peter Sagan on the start line.
"It's rather cool, I have never been to Asia and more specifically Japan! I am very excited to go, to meet the Japanese people and to see just how much they appreciate cycling," Yates said.
Yates will race in the white jersey he won in July rather than his Orica-BikeExchange team kit and added that he will look to show off his prize.
"I am not an ambassador just yet. I am far too young for that! But I do accept this invitation as an honour all the same," added Yates. "It is not very often that the top riders come together in this context, in travelling a long way from where our sport is based. As this will be my first time, I do not know what to expect, but I will proudly wear the white jersey at Saitama."
Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) will be returning to the event which is becoming an end of season fixture for the Frenchman who finished second at this year's Tour.
"It is a pleasure to go back, and it has become a very nice yearly tradition," said Bardet, adding "We have a mission over there, which is to allow the Japanese to have their own mini Tour de France. We are exporting some of our savoir-faire in this race. And it is quite impressive to see how receptive the public will be to the show we put on. This was already the case in the first year, there is genuine enthusiasm and we have seen it get bigger."
The Saitama Criterium peloton in action. (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
Lampre-Merida extend Manuele Mori's contract into 2017
Italian Manuele Mori will continue with Lampre-Merida for the 2017 and 2018 seasons which will see him spend at last ten years with the team. The 36-year-old joined the team in 2009 having started his career with Saunier Duval.
"I'm very happy for having received the appreciation from the team and for having signed a new contract and, even if the 2016 season has just ended, I can't stand to start the new one," Mori said from Japan. "It was great to make this announcement in Japan and it was even greater to be in Shukoh's factory with Sakuma family, owner of the company.
"The team for the next year will be characterized by big enthusiasm and in the roster there will be many young talented riders: my experience and my work will be for them."
Mori finished his season with fourth at the Japan Cup, and third in the Japan Cup criterium. The Japan Cup remains the sole victory in the Italian's career from when he took the win back in 2007.
The license for the Lampre-Merida team has been taken over by TJ Sport Consultation with a Chinese naming rights sponsor to be announced for the coming seasons. For the continually updated Cyclingnews guide to 2016-2017 rider transfers, click here.
Bianchi extend with LottoNL-Jumbo
Dutch WorldTour team LottoNL-Jumbo will continue to ride Bianchi bikes in the 2017 season, extending a deal that started back in 2014. The team will have access to the Oltre XR4, Specialissima, Infinito CV and Aquila CV Time Trial bike. The 2016 season saw a special moment for the team and Bianchi as Steven Kruijswijk led the Giro d'Italia and was provided with a custom celeste and pink Bianchi Oltre XR2 in recognition of his feats.
"The extension of our relationship with Team LottoNL-Jumbo is the result of our positive experience with their riders and performance staff over the past years: the feedback from the team has greatly contributed to the consistent improvement in our CV models' performance," Bianchi CEO Bob Ippolito said. "We are proud and happy to continue collaborating with them, and to test and further develop our current and new racing products."
LottoNL-Jumbo's general manager Richard Plugge added that the development of Bianchi's time trial bikes have been a boost to the squad and he is looking to further improvements against the clock in 2017.
"In recent years, we've had a strategic cooperation with Bianchi and the team, especially in the time trials," said Plugge. "This resulted in two national titles in the time trial, a victory in the Giro and a fifth place in the team time trial at the world championship. We can now structurally compete for top positions in the time trials. They gave attention to every discipline and developed other models, as well."
Back-to-back Tour of Hainan wins for Max Walscheid
Giant-Alpecin fastman Max Walscheid didn't take long to add a second professional victory to his palmares as he won consecutive stages at the Tour of Hainan ahead of Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) and Adrian Kirek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) to remain in the overall race lead. The 23-year-old won the stage by several lengths to claim the team's 12 victory of the season.
"I'm really happy to have won today and to keep the positive momentum going. The guys rode another fantastic race and we were always in control at the front of the peloton," explained.the 1.99 metre tall Walscheid. "The bunch sprint was a bit more hectic compared to yesterday with a slightly uphill finish, and a fight for position with other teams. I managed to find a gap with 500 meters to go and then I went full speed to the finish line. I am delighted with my second victory in two days and am really grateful to the team."
Five stages remain of the 2.1 race with stage 5 taking the peloton from Danzhou to Changjiang with an expected sprint finale after 184.9km.