News shorts: Boonen tax trial delayed, Fontana switches to the road for Strade Bianche

Roelandts confident despite illness, Italian riders promote road safety

Boonen and Lefevere handed reprieve in tax case

The tax evasion case involving Tom Boonen and his Etixx-QuickStep team boss Patrick Lefevere has been postponed. The pair were due to appear in front of the council chambers in Kortrijk this Tuesday along with Trek Factory Racing racing Stijn Devolder and six other members of the Etixx team.

According to a report in the Dutch newspaper de Telegraaf, the lawyers have requested a delay in the proceedings so that they may be able to reach a settlement. The trial is the result of an investigation that began in 2009. Boonen and his fellow defendants are believed to have used various financial schemes to avoid paying tax. In 2013, the three-time Tour of Flanders victor reportedly paid €2 million to pay off a tax bill that was discovered during the investigation.

A new date is yet to be fixed but it is likely to be sometime in June.

Etixx-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere and Tom Boonen meet the press.

Roelandts confident illness hasn't harmed form

Jürgen Roelandts didn't have a good start to his classics season after an illness sidelined him from the opening weekend. He was raring to go mid-week after he had been out training with his Lotto-Soudal team but the following day the Belgian complained of a high fever and muscle pain. It wasn't ideal, as he looks to shake the bad luck that has plagued him in the past two years, and he's still on medication but he's confident that he can still be strong this spring.

"I'm still on antibiotics until next weekend,” he told Sporza. “I have trained very well for five months. My condition cannot just be gone. Fortunately I do not need a lot of races to feel good. In this respect it is not a tragedy. But the timing can't be much work. Now I want to start my peak.

"I want to be good at Milan-San Remo but I should be back at the top in the coming weeks. From E3 Harelbeke to Paris-Roubaix, in the Flemish classics, I must be there."

Fontana switches from MTB to road for Strade Bianche

Mountain bike rider Marco Aurelio Fontana will ride Saturday's Strade Bianche race as part of an Italian national team.

He will switch his mountain bike for a road bike and take on the likes of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep). Fontana rides for the Cannondale Factory Racing mountain bike team and won a bronze medal in the London 2012 Olympics despite losing his saddle in the finale of the race.

"The idea is a bit crazy but the location is spectacular. The competition is pretty tough and the route has steep climbs that will remain in the legs. The last 70 km will be decisive. I'm not used to riding such long distances, so I will try to spend as little as possible in the first half of the race,” Fontana said.

The Italian national team will field a squad in several major Italian road races during the 2015 season as new national coach Davide Cassani works to strengthen the team and inspire riders to try different disciplines. Several endurance track riders have already competed in road races and under-23 riders will also be given a chance to race with elite professional riders.

Also in the Italian team for Strade Bianche is Marco Canola of the UnitedHealthcare team.

Marco Aurelio Fontana has a special road bike for the Strade Bianche race

Italian riders launch road safety campaign

The Italian Association of Professional Cyclists (ACCPI) has launched a road safety campaign aimed at convincing vehicles to give cyclists more room during overtaking.

The ACCPI has announced it will distribute 10,000 yellow and black stickers during the season that highlight the need to give cyclists 1.5m of space during overtaking.

ACCPI president Cristian Salvato also confirmed that he will attend the meeting of the CPA –the global riders’ association before Paris-Nice. The newly created Association of North American Professional Road Cyclists (ANAPRC) will also take part, with riders expected to call on the UCI to quickly establish an Extreme Weather Protocol to safeguard riders’ health during races.

The CPA is pushing to ensure that a representative of the association attends ever WorldTour race to ensure rider safety is considered.

Three riders lead Bardiani-CSF at Strade Bianche

Enrico Battaglin, Enrico Barbin and Sonny Colbrelli will lead the Bardiani-CSF at the upcoming Strade Bianche on March 7 in Italy. The 200km, partially gravel, race will start in San Gimignano and finish in the Piazza del Campo, Siena, where the Italian Professional Continental team is aiming to be in the mix for a top results.

"The Strade Bianche is a race with a lot of visibility where we have to try to shine," said team director Roberto Reverberi. “Our riders are focused to redeem the last Sunday performance at GP Lugano and the same time show signs of growth before two important events like Tirreno – Adriatico and Milano – Sanremo. Some of the strongest puncheurs of pro cycling will be there. So it will be a really good test bench for our shape and future goals."

The team also includes Manuel Bongiorno, Andrea Piechele, Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Ruffoni and Edoardo Zardini.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF).

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