Dempster will lead Cycling Academy in Pro Continental debut - News Shorts

ASO and German TV agree to daily live Tour broadcasts in 2017-18, New Axeon riders open season with wins, Sir Chris Hoy will open London Bike Show

Dempster will lead Cycling Academy in Pro Continental debut

Cycling Academy will make its Pro Continental debut this week in Spain at the Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana, the five-day UCI 2.1 race that starts Wednesday in Orihuela with a 38km team time trial.

"Are we ready? I think We are,” said head Sport Director Kjell Carlström, who previously worked with IAM Cycling and Team Sky.

"I know we have some riders that haven't been racing on this level yet, but I am not worried,” Carlström said. “They have trained well and are motivated…It will
be a tough race with a lot of great teams and riders, so our expectations are more of doing our very best and see were we stand. Of course, we are all hoping to win a stage … as long as we are racing the way we want to race, there is always a chance.”

Australian Zak Dempster, who signed with the team in the off-season from Bora-Argon18, will lead the Israeli-registered squad’s first 2017 effort. He’ll be joined in the race by Giullaume Boivin, Jose Manuel Diaz, Jason Lowndes, Benjamin Perry, Dennis van Winden, Tyler Williams and Israeli time trial champion Aviv Yechezkel.

"I am definitely feeling ready to race,” Dempster said. “It was a good, long build for all of us, the only thing missing is to actually get out there and do it. Myself and others [on Cycling Academy] might have a crack at a few of the punchy finishes in this tour.”

Fellow WorldTour veteran and 2017 Cycling Academy recruit Van Winden, who came to the team from LottoNL-Jumbo, agreed with his new teammate.

"We are a team that can go for the surprise,” Van Winden said.

Although Dempster, van Winden and Canadian Boivin have the most experience on the team, Cycling Academy will be anxious for Spanish climbing talent Diaz to test his legs, while Lowndes, a 22-year-old Australian who was sixth in the World Championship U23 road race in October, will be on hand to contest the sprint finishes.

Cycling Academy for Volta a La Comunitat Valenciana: Giullaume Boivin, Zak Dempster, Jose Manuel Diaz, Jason Lowndes, Benjamin Perry, Dennis van Winden, Tyler Williams, Aviv Yechezkel.

Zak Dempster enjoys the sunshine in Western Galilee.
Zak Dempster enjoys the sunshine during the Cycling Academy's first training camp in December.

ASO, German TV agree to daily live Tour de France broadcasts in 2017 and 2018

Tour de France owners Amaury Sport Organisation have reached an agreement with German public television ARD that aims for daily live broadcasts of the Tour de France in 2017 and 2018.

The Tour returned to German public television in 2015 after a three-year hiatus brought on by doping scandals and low ratings.

A statement released today by the ASO said that ARD plans to broadcast more than 90 minutes live during the week and more during the weekends. With the Tour beginning in Dusseldorf this year, ARD will provide significantly more air time for the two opening stages. In addition, each stage will be broadcast in full on the sportschau.de website. The race will also be broadcast on Eurosport Germany.

"We are thrilled that the Tour de France will continue to be aired on a major German general interest channel, as is the case in most of the European countries," said ASO Managing Director Yann Le Moenner. "With the Grand Départ in Dusseldorf and the broadcasting of the Tour de France by ARD as well as the take-over by ASO of the Frankfurt Grand Prix and the relaunch of the Tour of Germany scheduled for 2018, the goal is to ensure the development of cycling in Germany."

Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) celebrates his stage win on the Champs Elysees
Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) celebrates his stage win on the Champs Elysees

New Axeon Hagens Berman riders open season with wins

The new season is barely underway and already two new recruits for the Axeon Hagens Berman development team have scored wins.

Portuguese rider Ivo Oliveira earned the first wins of the team's 2017 season over the weekend when he took three of four national track titles. The 20-year-old won the omnium, the individual pursuit and the points race at the Sangalhos National Velodrome. The only race he did not win on the 250-meter indoor, laminated wooden track was the scratch race. In that event, João Matias took the victory while Ivo's twin brother, Rui, earned the silver medal to go along with a bronze he earned in the omnium.

"It was a great weekend of racing on a nice level with strong riders," Ivo Oliveira said. "I was so happy and proud to win my first races of the season with my new jersey. The team camp was a great motivation for nationals and for the next races that are coming." 

On Saturday, Jhonatan Narvaez scored the team's first road victory of 2017 when he soloed to win the second stage of the Clásica Huaca in his home country of Ecuador.

"It was nice to win because I made many attacks in the mountains," the 19-year-old said. "But my winning attack was actually made on the downhill."

Narvaez is the reigning U23 national time trial champion and is in his first season with Axeon Hagens Berman. 

The US-registered UCI Continental team run by Axel Merckx will formally open its season at the Volta ao Alentejo in Portugal. The five-day race begins February 22. In 2016, Axeon Hagens Berman placed three riders in the top 12 of the overall standings to win the team classification.

Brothers Ivo (left) and Rui Oliveria of Portugal are the first twins to be a part of the program in its nine-year history.
Brothers Ivo (left) and Rui Oliveria at the Axeon Hagens Berman training camp in California

Sir Chris Hoy will open London Bike Show

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Chris Hoy will open the London Bike Show, organisers announced today. Hoy will be joined at the show, which runs February 16-19, by legendary Classics and Vuelta hard-man Sean Kelly along with Vitus Bikes, double Grand Tour winner and former World Champion Stephen Roche with Stephen Roche Cycling Holidays, the Flying Scotsman Graham Obree and time trialing legend Chris Boardman of Boardman Bikes.

Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey will relive her extensive sporting experiences during the show as will multiple downhill mountain bike National Champion Tracy Moseley. The Drops professional women’s cycling team will also be presenting their 2017 line up and giving an overview of what it takes to be at the sharp end of women’s racing. Other cyclists on hand from the professional women's peloton include Hannah Barnes, Grace Garner and Amy Roberts. Seven times Paralympic gold medallist Jody Cundy will also be attending and answering questions about his impressive sporting career.

The London Bike Show returns to London’s ExCeL from February 16-19. 

hris Hoy celebrates on the podium at the end of the men's 1 km time trial final at the Athens velodrome
Six-time Olympic gold medalist Chris Hoy will open the London Bike Show

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