News shorts: 16 teams for Critérium International, Horner shows off Airgas-Safeway wheels

Seven wildcards for Catalunya, South Africa hosts Continental championships

The ASO today announced 16 teams for the 2015 Critérium International. The two-day, three-stage race will return to the island of Corsica on March 29-30 for the sixth year in a row, hosting seven WorldTour teams, seven Pro Continental teams and two French Continental squads.

The AG2R La Mondiale team of defending champion Jean-Christophe Peraud heads up the WorldTour teams, with fellow French squad FDJ also in the race. Giant-Alepcin, Tinkoff-Saxo, IAM Cycling, Cannondale-Garmin and Trek Factory Racing round out the list.

The Pro Continental teams include French teams Bretagne-Séché Environnement, Cofidis and Europcar, and Bora-Argon 18, Cult Energy, Team Roompot and UnitedHealthcare. Auber 93 and Team Marseille 13 KTM complete the list of invitees.

Volta a Catalunya announce wildcards

The WorldTour stage race Volta a Catalunya announced seven teams which will receive wild card invitations to the race, in addition to the 18 WorldTour teams. Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, the only Pro Continental team in Spain, topped the list, which also includes three French squads, Europcar, Cofidis and Bretagne-Seche Environnement. The Colombia squad, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and CCC Sprandi Polkowice round out the selection.

“We are happy and proud of the trust Volta a Catalunya showed to us," Colombia manager Claudio Corti said. "It’s a race with a great tradition, and certainly suited to our climbers’ characteristics. To us, the Volta a Catalunya invitation is an acknowledgement of the team’s technical and organizational value, and of all the work we made through the past seasons: we are ready to stand up to this new challenge.”

CCC said it will use the race to tune up for the Giro d'Italia, to which it earned a wild card invitation. "It’s hard to determine which rider will participate in which race. Our decision will be based on the current form of the riders. The organizers of Catalan race insisted that Davide Rebellin shows up, so he is the only rider who is certain to make the roster," director Piotr Wadecki said.

Wanty has a focus on the Spring Classics, and will head to the race with the intention of backing Enrico Gasparotto, a former winner of the Amstel Gold Race. “A race of this level, with the depth of riders that takes the start and the length of the stages, is important as preparation for the Ardennes races Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège," sports director Hilaire Van Der Schueren said.

The Volta a Catalunya runs from March 23-29.

Horner's Airgas-Safeway team to run Knight Composites wheels

Knight Composites, a wheel maker from Bend, Oregon, announced today a two-year deal to sponsor the Airgas-Safeway team of 2013 Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner.

“When I heard Jim had started Knight Composites here in Bend, I knew we (Airgas-Safeway) had to meet with them and test their new wheels for the team,” said Horner. “I gotta say that they didn’t let me down. Knight wheels are stiff, they’re superfast with amazing braking power and built for everything the road and the weather here can throw at them. But then that’s pretty much exactly what I expected from the people Jim put together.”

South Africa gears up for first African Continental Championships

South Africa will host the African Continental Championships for the first time this year, in the town of Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg. The event, which will be held February 9-14, will follow the South African Road Championships in Mbombela.

As host country, South Africa will be represented by a full contingent of racers in all categories from junior to elites. Former U23 world championship silver medalist Louis Meintjes will be a rider to watch in the road race, time trial, and the team time trial, where he will compete with Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, which recent earned a wildcard entry into the Tour de France.

Last year Eritrea swept all three elite men's races, and won the women's team time trial. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio of South Africa doubled in the elite women's road race and time trial, and South Africa swept the junior women's events and won two of the three junior men's races.

South Africa for the African Continental Road Championships:

Elite and U23 Men
Louis Meintjes
Jacques Janse van Rensburg
Jay Thomson
Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg
Jayde Julius
Kevin Patten
Willie Smith
Clint Hendricks
Dylan Girdlestone
JC Nel

Elite Women
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
Lise Olivier
Heidi Dalton
Anriette Schoeman
An-Li Kachelhoffer

Junior Men
Jarrod Hatting
Waylin Young
Kyle de Wet
Enno Swanepoel
Gregory de Vink
John Vlok

Junior Women
Ame Venter
Frances du Toit
Amy Williams
Jessica Brown
Sabrina van Wyk
Lynette Benson

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