Felline extends with Trek-Segafredo, Euskadi-Murias to Pro Conti in 2018 - News shorts

ASO bolsters German drive, Ullrich becomes Rund Um Koln director

Fabio Felline has put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension with the Trek-Segafredo team after a strong first half of the 2017 season.

The Italian has been with the American-registered team since 2014 and, after winning the Trofeo Laigueglia (for the Italian national team) and impressing throughout the spring classics, he extends his stay through to the end of 2018.

"I am really, really happy to continue my career with Trek-Segafredo, because I love the environment they have created, I genuinely enjoy racing and training with the other riders and working with the staff. This team has given me every possibility to chase my dreams and set new goals because they believe in me. And for me, this is crucial because when I feel the team gives me confidence and strongly believes in my qualities, this makes me perform better," said Felline.

"I am convinced that Trek-Segafredo is for me the very best option to keep growing as a rider and to obtain higher levels of performance in the future. I sense that my teammates, the team management, the trainers, they all give me complete confidence and they all really believe in me, and that's really all I can wish for."

General Manager Luca Guercilena added: "Fabio has always been a hard-working professional, but after his nearly career-ending crash in last year's Amstel Gold Race, I saw him turning into one of the most focused riders I have ever worked with. He is determined to be successful and able to go extremely deep during the race. This year's spring classics campaign has shown us once again that Fabio is a purebred all-rounder. I am obviously thrilled to have Fabio on board also for the next season, and I am curious to see how far his continuous growth and hard work will take him."

ASO bolsters German drive

The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which runs the Tour de France, has teamed up with the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) to enhance its drive into the German market and help re-launch the Deutschland Tour in 2018.

Last year, ASO announced what it described as a 'groundbreaking' partnership with the German Cycling Federation, which included a planned return for the country's premier stage race, first held in 1911 but discontinued in 2008 as doping scandals battered cycling's image and popularity in Germany.

The deal with AEG is described as a 'strategic partnership around the common goal to develop cycling in Germany' that will see the company lead the sponsorship sales process for the Deutschalnd Tour and the Eschborn-Frankfurt classic, which enjoyed its first editions as a WorldTour race a fortnight ago.

"Our strategic partnership with AEG underlines how committed we are to the German market," said ASO's managing director, Yann Le Moënner. "The Grand Départ 2017 in Düsseldorf, the just-renewed partnership with ARD on broadcasting the Tour de France, the addition of the Eschborn-Frankfurt classic to the family of ASO races and the new Deutschland Tour are all for themselves significant milestones to support the growth of cycling in Germany. We are excited to join forces with AEG, who will be a strong partner to achieve this vision."

The revival of the Deutschland Tour is set for August 2018 and is described as "an innovative concept which is designed as a bike festival that bridges the gap between professional and everyday cycling."

Basque team to go Pro Continental in 2018 with Vuelta invite

Four years after the disappearance of Euskaltel-Euskadi, there will be another fully professional Basque team in 2018, with the Euskadi Basque Country-Murias Taldea team announcing on Tuesday that it will step up to Pro Continental level next year.

The team, which has operated at Continental level since its inception in 2015, has already come to an agreement with race director Javier Guillén for an invite to the 2018 Vuelta a España, and has also lined up WorldTour outings in the Basque region at the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Cláisca San Sebastián.

"Basque cycling has to have a professional team," said team manager Jon Ordriozola in a press conference in Bilbao on Tuesday. "There comes a moment in life when you either go forward or go back – there is no middle ground – and we are going forward."

The Murias Group has bolstered its backing but further backing from local institutions will be sought. "We are talking about a project that can last 20, 30, 40, or 50 years if we do things well," added Odriozola.

"For three years now we have decided to strongly back Basque cycling, a sport that has always been part of the DNA of our citizens," said a representative from Murias Group. "During those years we’ve worked on a small but solid and sustainable project. After the experience of those three years, and without counting on increased support, we have decided to take the step of moving up to the Professional Continental category."

It was not revealed how much the team's budget will increase by. They will need to pass a full audit later this year before being officially granted Professional Continental status by the UCI.

Ullrich becomes Rund Um Koln director

Jan Ullrich will return to professional cycling in an official capacity after being hired as sporting director of the Rund Um Köln.

The German, who won the Tour de France in 1997, retired as a rider in 2007 after becoming embroiled in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal and has since kept his distance from the sport, popping up mainly to ride sportive events.

Ullrich will take over the role of sporting director of the Rund Um Köln from compatriot Rudi Altig, who died last year shortly before the 100th edition.

"I've been thinking about it for a long time," Ullrich told the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. "But at some point I realized I would do it for [race director] Artur [Tabat], who is not only my friend but also a good person."

Ullrich said he wouldn't be getting involved in the organisation of other races. "Only Cologne and nowhere else," he said, explaining that the race he won in 2003 is his "absolute favourite race."

Tabat added: "It's sensational that Jan does this. This is a great thing for us. It was always in my mind to bring Jan back a little. I want to give him this chance."

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