Gent-Wevelgem names final wildcards - News shorts

Moroccan champ to make UAE Abu Dhabi debut in Oman, another eye-catching KBK poster, Contador development teams presented

Cofidis, Israel Cycling Academy and Veranda's Willems-Crelan have added another Belgian classic to their calendar after being awarded the final three spots in the 2017 edition of Gent-Wevelgem.

The trio of Pro Continental teams joins previously announced wild card invitees Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij, Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise, Wanty - Groupe Gobert and WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect to make up the 25-team peloton.

It's the third Belgian race to include the Cofidis team of Nacer Bouhanni, which has also been invited to Dwars door Vlaanderen, and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

The Israel Cycling Academy and Veranda's Willems-Crelan have earned invitations all three of those events plus Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, joining Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise as the only Pro Continental teams to make all four races that have announced their invited teams.

E3 Harelbeke has yet to announce which teams will compete in the race.

The Gent-Wevelgem finish line

Moroccan champion to debut with UAE Abu Dhabi in Tour of Oman

Anass Ait el Abdia, the Moroccan national champion, is the latest recruit to join the UAE Abu Dhabi team at the Tour of Oman tomorrow. The 23-year-old neo-pro is a graduate of the UCI World Cycling Centre.

"I always dreamt of racing in a professional team, in a few days this will become real. It will be even better, since I'll wear the jersey of a WorldTour team, the best for a cyclist," Ait ed Abdia said.

"It's such a honor to be a member of the Team UAE's roster, this feeling will help me to give the best for realizing top performances."

He is joined in Oman by UAE rider Yousif Mirza, who made his debut in the Dubai Tour to a respectable 13th place overall.

"I know Yousif Mirza for a long time and I'm happy to be with him in taking this important step in our cycling careers: we'll share the same feelings in our first year in the WorldTour."

Ait el Abdia was recruited for the World Cycling Center after performing well in the 2014 Tour of Morocco.

"In that oasis on the Atlas mountains, I won a stage which had started from Ouarzazate and I drew the attention of the persons in Aigle, who proposed me to join the Center. This is how an impressive experience began: it gave me the opportunity to participate in many professional races and to know better many subjects which are very important for a cyclists, as an example the nutritional matters and the public relations."

Tour of Oman is not the first major race for Ait el Abdia, however: he raced in the Olympic Games and World Championships in Doha last year.

"The best moment was at the World Championship, when I joined the main breakaway of the race and when I succeeded in resisting in the front group until the arrival, pedaling with the world champion [Peter] Sagan, [Mark] Cavendish and [Tom] Boonen and obtaining the 22nd place."

Anass Aït El Abdia (Morocco)

Another memorable Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne poster

Flemish semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne has provided the cycling world with a few memorable race posters in recent years, with a minotaur featuring prominently in 2015 promotional materials and a 2016 poster evoking the style of a military monument.

2017 proves to be no exception.

With the tagline "Where legends are born," this year's race poster depicts the ultrasound of an unborn baby aboard an umbilical cord bike – complete with cycling-oriented biometric data.

It's certainly eye-catching, if a bit unusual.

Contador's Polartec junior and under-23 teams presented in Madrid

The official 2017 presentation for the Alberto Contador Foundation's Polartec junior and under-23 teams was held Monday in the Madrid suburb of Mósteles.

Spain's Secretary of State for Sport and the President of the Spanish Cycling Federation both attended the event, celebrating the beginning of the project's fifth season, as well as the work of the Foundation. In addition to promoting cycling in Spain, the non-profit is involved with social work and has donated hundreds of bicycles to communities in need.

Contador concluded the ceremony by thanking the organisation's sponsors as well as discussing his upcoming season.

"The signs are very good and we will see what happens in Andalucía, although it is a bit peculiar this year, with the first three decisive stages. We will see what can be done," he said.

Alberto Contador

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