Alexander Kolobnev has come out of retirement and will race for the Gazprom-Rusvelo team in 2016.
The 34-year-old announced in the middle of last year that he was taking an extended break from cycling after struggling to recover from a fractured foot sustained at the Vuelta al País Vasco. He didn't re-sign with Katusha for 2016, which indicated that he had chosen to go down the retirement path, but on Wednesday, Gazprom-Rusvelo, which is a feeder team to the Russian WorldTour squad, announced that Kolobnev had been added to their roster.
Kolobnev is a two-time silver medallist in the road race at the world championships, and twice the Russian national champion.
Kolobnev expressed his satisfaction at being hired onto the team in its press release. "It was certainly a nice surprise," he said. "Thanks to the fans I found a great charge and the right motivation to remain in group. Renat has seen in me the qualities to be shared with the team, which is very young but composed of guys with absolute value. I'm excited and I feel like I had signed my first professional contract. I’d like to thank Renat for his confidence and I hope to be able to repay him and all the sponsors of the trust they have placed in me."
Kolobnev tested positive at the 2011 Tour de France for the masking agent hydrochlorothiazide but was acquitted of systematic doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which found it was the result of medication used for a vascular disease that he had suffered from for many years.
He was dropped by Katusha at the end of 2011 but rejoined following his acquittal. In that same turbulent year, allegations surfaced that he had sold victory in the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège to Alexandre Vinokourov and he is due to stand trial on corruption charges.
Ulissi to lead Lampre-Merida in GP Costa degli Etruschi
Italian Diego Ulissi will lead the Lampre-Merida team at the GP Costa degli Etruschi this weekend, hoping to overturn his near miss at Tour Down Under and get his first win of the season.
The 190.6km race on Sunday takes place on Ulissi's home roads, starting in San Vincenzo and finishing in Donoratico, with two trips up the 2.9km Torre Segalari in the final 40km. The last time Ulissi took part in the race he was second to teammate Michele Scarponi.
He will be supported by Przemyslaw Niemiec, Manuele Mori, Mattia Cattaneo, Ilia Koshevoy and Kristijan Durasek.
Küng out of Track World Championships
Swiss rider Stefan Küng (BMC) is still recovering from mononucleosis and will not be able to defend his individual pursuit title at the UCI Track World Championships in London next month. Küng told SRF Sport that he is recovering from the viral infection that he picked up at the BMC team camp in December, but it would be too soon to race in March. "I have been resting well, but at the moment I can only do base training," he said.
While Switzerland missed out on qualifying for the team pursuit at the 2012 Olympic Games, Küng helped the team to second in the Cali World Cup and seventh in London, ensuring the Swiss team would make it to Rio. While the Olympics remain his major season goal, Küng admits the setback is not good for his preparation for August.
Dieteren out with testicular cancer
German Jan Dieteren will not be able to make his season start with the Leopard team in the near future. The 22-year-old was diagnosed with testicular cancer last month and had to undergo surgery.
Dieteren, twice a stage winner of the Thüringen-Rundfahrt and a member of the German national team at Worlds, faces 10 weeks of chemotherapy, but doctors at the Heidelberg University Hospital say his chances of a full recovery are good.
“I am in the best hands and confident to win this fight," Dieteren said. "The whole team supports me and encourages me.”
Team Manager Markus Zingen confirmed they will give Dieteren time to recover. “We as a team are fully behind Jan. We will give him all the time he needs to recover well and we will try to help him where we can.”