Ramūnas Navardauskas will return to his roots in 2019, signing with French Pro Continental team Delko Marseille Provence. The 30-year-old Lithuanian rode for the team's precursor, Vélo Club La Pomme Marseille, as an amateur in 2010 when he took 10 victories, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs.
Navardauskas, who has won stages in the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, rode for Bahrain-Merida the past two seasons. After his stint with Vélo Club La Pomme Marseille in 2010, he signed with Jonathan Vaughters' Garmin and Connadonale teams, where he rode for eight seasons through 2016.
"I am very happy to join the Team Delko Marseille Provence, which is the natural continuation to the Vélo Club La Pomme Marseille that I started eight years ago, just before going professional," Navardauskas said in a statement released by the team. "The team led by Frédéric Rostaing has now evolved well since I left it. I have seen them grow and I am looking forward to taking part in this great project.”
Despite his impressive palmares, the former 'Pommier' often assumed the role of domestique, something that that will change in 2019, when he will be given the opportunity to rode for his own results.
"I am very glad that Ramunas has chosen our project," said Frédéric Rostaing, Delko Marseille Provence team manager. "This is a real pride, double with the satisfaction of finding a rider who has gone through our training course. He represents the archetype of the rider we were looking for: his experience, his multi-skilling, his ability to express himself on all fields but mainly all his fierce desire to succeed in this challenge with us, must bring this little extra that make the difference at the highest level and raise the degree of performance of the Team Delko Marseille Provence on the major races of our calendar."
Pellaud moves to Swiss Continental squad IAM-Excelsior
After two seasons traversing the globe with Team Illuminate, Swiss rider Simon Pellaud will once again race under the IAM banner, signing for the Swiss Continental team IAM-Excelsior for 2019, according to DirectVelo.
Pellaud turned professional under the name of the investment management company with IAM Cycling in 2014 and raced with the squad until it folded after the 2016 season.
Last year Pellaud scored his first major victory at the Tour of Rwanda, winning the second stage with a solo breakaway. He finished second overall in the Tour of Almaty this season before winning the final stage of the Tour of Hainan.
Novo Nordisk signs former Hungarian champion
US Pro Continental team Novo Nordisk is adding a new rider to its professional roster from outside of its development pipeline, the first such new additions since 2012, as Hungarian Péter Kusztor will join the team's 2019 roster. The Olympian was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and will bring depth and experience to the world’s first all-diabetes professional cycling team.
"For everyone, a diabetes diagnosis is a terrifying moment that comes with a lot of uncertainty," said Team Novo Nordisk CEO and Co-Founder Phil Southerland. "Life changes in an instant and it is a condition that immediately affects the entire family. I'm proud that our organization could give Peter hope through those first days when he struggled and his entire family was fearful of his future. While we never wish anyone to be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we are eager to welcome Peter into our family."
Kusztor was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while receiving medical attention for injuries suffered in a crash during stage 3 of the 2018 Czech Cycling Tour, where he broke his collarbone in a crash. Before going in for surgery, doctors checked his fasting blood glucose levels, which were elevated. Doctors initially believed he had type 2 diabetes and hospitalised him to bring down his blood glucose. He did not respond to medication, and eventually endocrinologists ran a series of new tests that lead to his type 1 diagnosis.
The diagnosis and lifestyle changes were difficult for Kusztor, and he couldn’t imagine racing professionally while managing the condition, according to the team. Yet the Hungarian had raced against Team Novo Nordisk over the years and knew that all riders on the team competed with type 1 diabetes.
"Over the years, I’ve always admired the riders at Team Novo Nordisk and the way they raced while managing such a serious condition," Kusztor said. "I knew about their unique mission, which has become my own personal mission. In Hungary, people still don’t believe that you can race at the top level with diabetes and I’m motivated to overcome these judgments and prove that it is still possible to race with diabetes.”
The 33-year-old is a two-time road champion of Hungary (2010 and 2012) and the time trial champion in 2010. he signs his first pro contract in 2010 with P-Nivo-Betonexpressz 2000, then moved to Atlas Personal-BMC, Amplatz-BMC, My Bike-Stevens and now Novo Nordisk.
British Cycling introduces pre-participation cardiac screening
As part of the Great Britain Cycling Team's proactive approach to the duty of care towards athletes, British Cycling has joined forces with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to provide Pre-Participation Cardiac Screening (PPCS) for every rider on the programme.
The PPCS commenced in May 2018 with every programme rider aged 14 and above encouraged to undergo the process every two years. The screenings are undertaken by a specialist team from LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, led by Professors John Somauroo and Keith George and Doctor David Oxborough. The aim of the collaboration is two-fold with the intention to provide cardiac screening whilst establishing a research programme aimed at further developing our understanding of the cyclists' heart.
Doctor Nigel Jones, Head of Medical Services for British Cycling, explained: “Recent research reports that, although sudden cardiac death amongst the athletic population is rare, there is data to prove that cardiac screening can identify underlying cardiac disease and ultimately reduce the risk.
"The health and well-being of our riders is our primary concern and by introducing this new policy we are ensuring that the riders’ hearts are being checked and monitored and riders are informed of any risk they may be carrying.
"The riders are screened by LJMU using the 'European Model', which involves a physical examination, a screening questionnaire and a 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). We have also included an echocardiogram in the process which forms part of the research."