Lotto Soudal set out on early recon of cobbled Classics - News Shorts

Giro Valle D'Aosta down to five days in 2017, San Dimas Stage Race set for March 24-26, Listen to the Cyclingnews Podcast

Classics recon for Lotto Soudal

Lotto Soudal made the most of the recent good weather to conduct a recon of the 'Flemish Ardennes', rediscovering the roads of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and E3 Harelbeke. Tiesj Benoot, Frederik Frison, Moreno Hofland, Nikolas Maes and Jürgen Roelandts set out on a weekend of cobbled rides as they reacquainted themselves with courses they'll come across in the coming months.

Directeur sportif Herman Frison explained that, while the majority of the squad are familiar with the roads, it provided an opportunity to "test tubes and tyre pressure". And, with bad weather predicted prior to the Classics, it was an earlier-than-anticipated recon.

"Some guys already know the area very well of course, but others much less. And it’s useful to see the hills and cobbles again - also for me. It has been ten months since we raced on these roads and during such a training [ride] you see things that could be important in the race," Frison said. "We have chosen to do the recon this weekend because there’s a risk that the weather will be bad a few days before the Omloop and then you can’t move the date anymore. Now we were able to do these recons without stress and without much rain."

The WorldTour one-day Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is held February 25, with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the following day, while E3 Harelbeke takes place March 24.

San Dimas Stage Race set for March 24-26

Organisers of the San Dimas Stage Race have announced the dates for the three-day race that has become a staple of the early season for the US domestic peloton. The 2017 race will take place March 24-26 with three stages over three days.

The race will open on Friday, March 24, with a 6.8km individual time trial up Glendora Mountain Road. Stage 2 on Saturday features a circuit race on an 11.25km course through Bonelli Park. The race ends on Sunday, March 26, with a criterium on a six-corner, two-kilometre course in downtown San Dimas. In 2016, Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis) won the men's overall, while Kristin Armstrong (Twenty16-RideBiker) started her run toward the Rio Olympics time trial gold medal with an overall win at San Dimas.

As part of USA Cycling's new American Road Calendar, the race will offer equal prize money to both men's and women's pro fields. The race will finish just three days before Arkansas' Joe Martin Stage Race, the opening event of the reshuffled 2017 USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.

Winding and steep roads for the hillclimb TT today at the San Dimas Stage Race.

Five days for Giro Valle D'Aosta in 2017

Italian U23 stage race Giro della Valle D'Aosta has been cut down from six to five days in 2017 due to economic pressures. The race is one of the key indicators for determining the top young riders in the high mountains, with a list of former winners that includes current WorldTour pros Thibaut Pinot, Fabio Aru and Davide Villella.

The race is held in July around the Valle d'Aosta region.

"We worked around the clock to achieve what was our main dream: to get back to the traditional six-stage race. However, the economic situation isn't yet positive, so we'll have to stand by until next year," said president Riccardo Moret. "Then the Giro will take place on five stages, from July 12 to 16, across the borders of France, Switzerland and Piedmont: an important sports relationship with Communities that border our region."

Moret explained the decision regarding the teams for the 54th edition of the race will be made later in the month, with other squads expressing interest.

Fabio Aru in the press conference

Sprint Special Podcast: Who is ruling the sprint battle so far, and Kittel on that punch

Listen to the latest Cyclingnews Podcast as the team discusses the early sprint performances at the Tour Down Under, the Mallorca Challenge and the Dubai Tour. Who is ruling the roost and who is yet to find their form?

We hear from Dubai Tour winner Marcel Kittel on his fracas with Astana's Andrey Grivko, and Kittel's Quick-Step Floors boss Patrick Lefevere on the team's performances so far. There are also interviews with Team Sky performance manager Rod Ellingworth and Dimension Data lead-out man Mark Renshaw.  

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