News shorts: Chaos collapses Kiwi chances for a result in Richmond

Kump joins Lampre-Merida, Battaglin signs for LottoNL-Jumbo

New Zealand's trio of U23 riders came to Richmond Worlds with high hopes for a top result, with Dion Smith, James Oram and Hayden McCormick aiming to put one of their own on the podium.

But a difficult race in tough conditions, with rain picking up for the final lap and turning the pair of cobbled climbs into a slip-and-slide, side-tracked those plans.

Oram, 22, said the race started out poorly for the team and then got worse from there.

"I think we were kind of on the back foot to start," he said. "It was really, really hard to hold position on that course. None of us are really cobbled specialists on that climb, so we kind of really suffered there."

Despite the adversity, the trio attempted to get Smith up to the front on the final lap, but carnage on the cobbles put an end to the effort.

"We had him in good position on the second-to-last lap," Oram said. "But on the last lap someone just slid out and it was our day done really."

Oram said the New Zealand trio will likely have plenty more chances to compete together in the US, however, as all three have signed with One Pro Cycling for next season. The British Continental team is hoping to move to the Pro Continental level next year.

"So hopefully we'll be back doing California, maybe Colorado and Utah," Oram said. 

Marko Kump joins Lampre-Merida

Marko Kump will return to the top level of the sport having signed a two-year deal with Lampre-Merida. The 27-year-old Slovenian previously rode with Tinkoff - Saxo but has spent this season with the Continental Adria Mobil squad picking up 18 victories in 2015.

"It was great to receive an offer for a transfer in a top team as Lampre-Merida: as soon as I got offer from them, I didn’t hesitate for a second, because working and racing on such a high level has always been my goal," Kump said of the deal. "In the past, I spent two years in Saxo-Tinkoff, learning a lot about racing in the World Tour, so I think I'm ready to help the team in achieving ambitious goals.

"I thank Lampre-Merida and their sponsors and I also say thanks to my current team, which gave me the opportunities to demonstrate my skills".

Kump is currently in Richmond where he will be a protected rider for Slovenia in Sunday's road race before heading back to Europe and finalising the transfers.

Lampre-Merida team manager Brent Copeland explained Kump's victories across the season meant he quickly became a transfer target. Copeland added he is aiming to see Kump win at WorldTour level from next season.

"For us as Team Lampre-Merida it's a honour to welcome the second most winning cyclists in 2015," Copeland said. "Thanks to 18 successes, Kump is just behind Kristoff: we're sure he'll be able to confirm all his qualities in our team too, also because he had already lived a past experience in the World Tour.

Copeland explained Kump will be part of the fast man group, joining the likes of Sacha Modolo. 

"He will complete the group of the sprinters and he won't have problem to get settled into the team, also because he had already worked with the sport director Philippe Mauduit, who had explained us all his good skill," Copeland said.

LottoNL-Jumbo's adds Enrico Battaglin to 2016 roster

Italian Enrico Battaglin has signed for the Dutch LottoNL-Jumbo team for 2016. The 25-year-old has ridden with the Bardiani CSF team since turning professional in 2011 winning stags at the Giro d'Italia in 2013 and 2014

"After four years with Bardiani-CSF Pro Team, it's a good moment to move to a WorldTour team," Battaglin said. "I didn't ride a superb season, so I'm very glad for this chance. I spoke with several teams, but Richard Plugge quite easily convinced me to join Team LottoNL-Jumbo."

Battaglin's focus in 2016 will be on the Ardennes Classics with fourth place at the Volta Limburg Classic earlier this season a sign of his potential.

"I'm an explosive rider and that’s why I think that the Amstel Gold Race, the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège suit me," Battaglin said. "I participated in the Italian WorldTour races in the last years and now, I’m able to explore the other high-level races, as well. Besides the Ardennes Classics, I want to ride a grand tour next year."

With LottoNL-Jumbo racing on Bianchi bicycles, sports director Nico Verhoeven explained the team has been looking for an Italian addition and in Battaglin have found the right rider.

"We have a big Italian sponsor with Bianchi," Verhoeven explained. "We were looking for a Italian rider who fits with the structure of our team and who gives our team a boost, as well. Enrico has won two stages in the Giro d'Italia in the last three years. There are not many riders who did that, especially when you notice that he isn't a bunch sprinter or a superb climber. Besides that, he was never part of a WorldTour team, so when he performs in a better structure from the beginning of the season, he will probably be able to improve. We will enjoy this collaboration."

As the sole Italian on the team's 2016 roster, Battaglin added there will be cultural adjustments with the Dutch squad but is looking to grab his opportunities with both hands.

"My transfer to Team LottoNL-Jumbo is a big challenge," Battaglin said. "I'm the only Italian in the team. I don’t know my new team-mates personally, but I know who they are and what they're capable of. Wilco Kelderman is a big talent and Sep Vanmarcke is a world-class rider in the spring classics. I want to adjust to my new team as quick as possible. The team’s giving me a great chance and I want to grab it."

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