Olympic omnium gold medallist Elia Viviani will make his first appearance at the Tour Down Under since 2014 according to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. Viviani first rode the Australian WorldTour event in 2011 and returned in 2014 where third place on stage 4 was his best result.
The 2017 Tour Down Under will be Viviani's first race of the new season which will also be his third with Team Sky. Along with his Olympic gold medal, Viviani enjoyed stage wins at the Dubai Tour and Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde as he balanced his road and track ambitions. Viviani rode the Gent Six Day last month with Iljo Keisse but will now focus on the road for the next two seasons with the 2017 Milan-San Remo a major goal for the new year.
Team Sky's Geraint Thomas recently told Cyclingnews that he will also be starting his season at the Tour Down Under with the full team to be announced in the coming weeks.
Cannondale-Drapac's Tom-Jelte Slagter is also starting his season down under with the Dutchman making his first return to the race since his overall 2013 victory.
"Nothing but great memories of my 1st & only presence in @tourdownunder. Excited to go back: #TourDownUnder 2017, I’ll be there!" he wrote on Twitter.
The 27-year-old was fourth on stage 2 of the 2013 Tour Down Under, won stage 3 to Stirling, and then placed second on the queen stage up Willunga Hill to seal the overall and young rider classifications.
Slagter is likely to lead the team alongside Michael Woods after the Canadian confirmed he will again start his season in Australia in his Cyclingnews blog. Woods was fourth overall in 2016.
The Tour Down Under takes place January 17-22 in Adelaide, South Australia. Orica-BikeExchange's Simon Gerrans is the defending champion and is also a confirmed starter for the race.
Elia Viviani will be waving to the crowds next month at the Tour Down Under
African cyclist of the year 2016 nominees announced
The Tropicale Amissa Bongo race organisers have announced the 20-riders shortlisted for the African cyclist of the year award. Created in 2012, the award features a jury chaired by Bernard Hinault with sports directors, coaches, African and European journalists voting for the overall winner. The winner will be announced on 21 December.
The winners of the award since 2012 have been Natnael Berhane (2012), Louis Meintjes (2013), Mekseb Debesay (2014) and Daniel Teklehaimanot (2015). Debesay is the only rider from the quartet not to be nominated for the 2016 edition of the award.
There are several riders from the WorldTour to also be nominated for the award with Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida), Daryl Impey (Orica BikeExchange), and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data). Recent Tour of Rwanda winner Valens Ndayisenga has also made the list of nominees.
Essaid Abelouache (Nasr Dubai), Joseph Areruya (Rwanda), Adil Nsengimana (Nasr Dubai), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Isiaka Cisse (Sc Nice Jollywear), Metkel Eyob (Dimension Data For Qhubeka), Tsgabu Grmay (Lampre-Merida), Daryl Impey (Orica BikeExchange), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Adil Jelloul (Skydive Dubaï), Clovis Kamzong (Cameroon), Azzedine Lagab (Algeria), Mouhssine Lahsaini (Morocco), Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria), Louis Meintjes (Lampre Merida), Valens Ndayisenga (Dimension Data For Qhubeka), Jean-Bosco Nsengimana (Team Stradalli-Bike Aid), Tesfom Okubamariam (Sharjah Team, Mathias Sorgho (Burkina Faso) And Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data).
Astana Women's team add Olena Pavlukhina for 2017
Olena Pavlukhina has been confirmed as the fourth signing for the new year by Astana Women's Team. The 27-year-old spent the 2016 season with BTC City Ljubljana, winning the Gracia Orlova overall and the road and time trial tiles of Azerbaijan.
"I am honored to be a part of such a group like Astana Women's Team," Pavlukhina said in a statement. "I am glad to develop with the specialists who work with us in the team. For me it has always been a dream to work in a team of such a high level, I am confident that together we can become one of the best team in the world! My goals are team's goals: I'll be happy if we manage to win World Tour races or to reach a good results in the Team Time Trial at World Championships."
Having taken a maternity break from cycling, Pavlukhina returned to the sport last season with BTC City Ljubljana.
Astana Women's Team have already announced the signings of Svetlana Vasilieve, Lisa Morzenti, Agnieszka Skalniak, and Lara Vieceli.
Olympians headline Tasmanian Christmas Sports Carnivals
Olympic medallists Sam Welsford, Annette Edmondson and Kaarle McCulloch will all head to Tasmania over the festive period for the Tasmanian Christmas Sports Carnival. Italian pro with Cylance, Valentina Scandalora, and Tasmania duo Georgia Baker and Macey Stewart are also confirmed starters.
The riders will take part in select criterium and track events from December 17 through to January 21 in the new year.
"My philosophy is there is no better training than racing and the Tassie carnivals certainly provide plenty of fun racing," said McCulloch. "I had a happy time in Tasmania after the London Olympics and I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there."
Tasmanian Christmas Sports Carnivals
Rosebery Carnival – 17th December
Westbury Criterium – 26th December
Latrobe – 27th December
Launceston – 28th December
Ulverstone Criterium – 29th December (lunch-time)
Devonport – 29th and 30th December
Burnie Criterium – 31st December
Burnie 1st January 2017
Hobart – 8th January
St Helens – 21st January