Janez Brajkovič has signed with the Slovenian Continental team Adria Mobil Cycling for the 2018 season. Brajkovič, 34 years old and from Slovenia, joins the team after spending one season as a domestique for Bahrain Merida.
"I'm happy with my return to a cycling team from Novo Mesto," said Brajkovič, who started his racing career with the team in 2001. “I know I didn’t say the last word in cycling and I'm full of optimism for the future. I had some offers from the other teams, but I choose to sign for Adria Mobil Cycling.
"It's as organized as other teams, has good riders and good racing program that will enable me to progress and prove myself. I want to pay back for everything that the team did in the start of my racing career. There are a lot of young cyclists in the team and I’m sure they can gain from my experiences."
Brajkovič joined Adria Mobil, then called Krka Telekom, 17 years ago. After his success in 2004, with a victory in the under-23 time trial at the World Championships, Brajkovič moved on to a professional contract with Discovery Channel.
He spent three seasons with the American team followed by two years with Astana, two with RadioShack and another three seasons with Astana. A decade spent racing with WorldTour teams came to an end in 2015 when Brajkovič signed a two-year deal with the American Professional Continental team UnitedHealthcare but he wound up back on the WorldTour with Bahrain-Merida last year.
His standout results include victories on Critérium du Dauphiné (2010), Tour of Slovenia (2012), Tour de Georgia (2007), and he was ninth overall at the 2012 Tour de France.
"We're excited that Jani Brajkovič decided to continue his career in our team, he's a world-class cyclist,” said Bogdan Fink, Adria Mobil director.
"Team Adria Mobil Cycling became even stronger with his arrival. He's extremely professional and responsible cyclist, and has plenty of motivation – despite the results in the last seasons. Young cyclists will also learn a lot from him. We're sure that this cooperation will be fruitful and will bring great sports results and other achievements."
Adria Mobil Cycling team are currently participating in a winter training camp in Turkey. They will begin their racing season in Cyprus.
Naesen starts season with AG2R La Mondiale in Valencia
Oliver Naesen said in a team press release that the five-day race was a good way for all the riders to prepare for more important races held during the early season.
"Just like last year, I have decided to return to the competition at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana," Naesen said. "I'm happy to pin on a bib. It's a difficult race, but that won't be a problem for me. My winter has been good, I have not been slowed down by health problems, and I feel like I'm a little stronger than last year.
"In the off season, I spent six weeks in Spain to train under ideal conditions. And then during the training camps with the team, I saw that the group has melded together, with everyone motivated and ready to fight.
"After Valenciana, I will move onto the Ruta Del Sol (February 14-18), then it will be time to think of the Classics with the opening of the Belgian calendar at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (February 24).”
In Spain, Naesen will be joined by a strong team that includes Clément Venturini, Cyril Gautier, Axel Domont, Alexis Vuillermoz, Clément Chevrier and François Bidard.
AG2R La Mondiale have already had success with Alexander Geniez racing to victory at the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise on Sunday.
AG2R La Mondiale roster for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: Oliver Naesen, Clément Venturini, Cyril Gautier, Axel Domont, Alexis Vuillermoz, Clément Chevrier and François Bidard.
Porsev focused on flat stages in Valencia
Gazprom-RusVelo will send a seven-man roster to Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. It will be the opening stage race for the Russian cycling team of the 2018 season.
There is a strong start list set to compete at this year’s five-day race that will begin on Wednesday. In total, 25 teams will be on the start line in Oropesa el Mar.
Russian national champion Alexander Porsev will lead Gazprom-Rusvelo in their opening stage race of the year. The race is expected to offer varying terrain and Porsev will focus on the flatter days stage 1 from Oropesa El Mar to Peñiscola and stage 5 from Paterna to Valencia.
The team recently completed a training camp in Santa Severa, which gave the riders an opportunity to put in base miles ahead of the season.
"I have competed in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, so it's not a new race for me and I want to improve the result," Porsev said. "I am mostly focused on the first and fifth stages, which are expected to finish with bunch sprints.
"We will see in which conditions are our competitors and how they prepared for the start of the season, but I can confidently say that we are set up for a fierce competition and ready to fight for victories."
Gazprom- RusVelo roster for Volta a la Communitat Valenciana: Sergey Firsanov, Igor Boev, Alexander Vlasov, Artem Nych, Alexander Porsev, Nikolay Trusov, Stepan Kurianov.
Canola leads Nippo-Vini Fantini at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana
Nippo-Vini Fantini will make their debut to the 2018 season at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The team hopes that Marco Canola will pick up where he left off in 2017 and bring the team early-season success.
Canola won the final race of the season for Nippo-Vini Fantini at Japan Cup Cycle Road Race in October. He will lead the team, backed up with a well-balanced roster that includes Simone Ponzi, Hideto Nakane and Ivan Santaromita, who are climbers and excepted to do well on the fourth stage, Marco Tizza, Nicola Bagioli and Joan Bou, who is making his official debut in the pro ranks.
The Italian Professional Continental team just finished a training camp in Calpe. Director Mario Manzoni said he is hoping the team’s preparations will pay off in Spain.
"After many weeks of training it's good to have now the possibility to have a comparison on our condition against other competitors. We will battle with high-level teams, with big names cycling so it will be a very good test for us.
"The Valenciana has every kind of road, from mixed stages, to climbs up and a time trial. For sure our leader in the first and last stages will be Marco Canola, with Marco Tizza and Nicola Bagioli that could also have their chance.
"For the climbing stage Hideto Nakane and Ivan Santaromita will be our leaders, while Joan Bou will debut among pros, he his very young so he must follow the most experienced riders in the race, such as Simone Ponzi that could be helpful both for him and for leaders."
Nippo-Vini Fantini roster for Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: Marco Canola, Simone Ponzi, Hideto Nakane, Ivan Santaromita, Marco Tizza, Nicola Bagioli, Joan Bou.