News shorts: Hesjedal returns to Tour of Alberta, Tinkoff-Saxo renews six for 2016

Two podiums in one day for Bora-Argon 18, Creed predicts USA Pro Challenge stages

Hesjedal set to return to the Tour of Alberta

Organizers of the Tour of Alberta announced on Thursday that Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin) will return to compete in the UCI 2.1 stage race held from Sept 2-7. The Canadian has not competed in the stage race since its inaugural season in 2013 when his then-teammate Rohan Dennis won the overall title.

"As always I'm really looking forward to racing in Canada, and especially the Tour of Alberta," Hesjedal said. "I have a lot of connections to Alberta through family and friends. I was proud to be at the inaugural edition in 2013 and I can't wait for this year's exciting route with the mountain finishes in Jasper, which suit my strengths."

Although the race has been held in communities along the base of the Canadian Rockies, the 2015 edition is the first time that the race will include climbs through the mountains. This year there will be two mountain finishes in Jasper National Park (Miette Hot Springs) on stage 3 and to Marmot Basin ski area on stage 4, and will certainly better favour a climber like Hesjedal.

“This is a great day for day Canadian sport,” said Duane Vienneau, the Tour of Alberta presented by ATB Financial’s President and CEO. “Ryder is a national hero and it will be great to welcome him back to the race. This year’s course certainly favors him.”

Hesjedal had a strong season placing fifth overall at the Giro d'Italia in May, with two second places in the mountains to Cervinia and Sestriere. He was also third on Alpe d'Huez at the Tour de France in July.

Ryder Hesjedal has been very active this week

Tinkoff-Saxo announces six contract extensions for 2016

Tinkoff-Saxo announced on Thursday that six riders; Jesper Hansen, Michael Kolar, Pawel Poljanski, Ivan Rovny, Nikolay Trusov and Jay McCarthy, have renewed contracts for the 2016 season.

“These riders have all contributed to the greater good of the team during the season and several of them are promising talents,” said head sports director, Steven de Jongh. “These six guys will all play an important part in meeting the next season’s goals, as supporting riders for Alberto [Contador], Rafal [Majka] and Peter [Sagan], and they will likely get their own chance at some stage.”

These six riders will join the 13 other riders who already had contracts for the 2016 season Ivan Basso, Daniele Bennati, Maciej Bodnar, Pavel Brutt, Alberto Contador, Robert Kiserlovski, Roman Kreuziger, Rafal Majka, Sergio Paulihno, Michael Rogers, Juraj Sagan, Peter Sagan and Michael Valgren. (Ivan Rovny was listed in both the six renewals and the 14 riders who had existing contracts for 2016, ed.).

“Our philosophy and approach are essential to our performance as a team,” de Jongh added. “The camaraderie is very important for us to keep. It requires a stable group of guys that know each other, and with these six extensions we ensure a well-founded base for 2016."

Jay McCarthy and Peter Sagan after the win for Tinkoff-Saxo

Bennett third in Norway, Bora-Argon 18 second in Czech Republic TTT

Professional Continental outfit, Bora Argon18, took two podium places in separate races on Thursday. Sam Bennett sprinted to third place at the Arctic Race of Norway and the team finished second in the team time trial at the Czech Cycling Tour.

Bennett’s third-place finish in the opening stage of the Arctic Race of Norway, behind winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka), proved yet again that he is one of the most promising up-and-coming sprinters in the world. It was his sixth sprint podium of the season.

Bora-Argon 18 also sent a team at the Czech Cycling Tour, where they placed second to Etixx-QuickStep in the opening team time trial. Zdenek Stybar currently leads the overall classification, while Bora Argon 18’s Jan Barta led the team across the line in the team time trial and sits in sixth place overall.

Points leader Sam Bennett (Bora Argon 18)

SmartStop director Mike Creed makes predictions on USA Pro Challenge stages

The USA Pro Challenge is set to begin on Monday with seven stages of high altitude racing for the peloton. Beginning in Steamboat Springs, the Colorado race wastes no time getting up to speed with a hilly 78km circuit. Stage 2 puts the control firmly in the hands of the climbers with two major climbs before the 7.9km ascent to Arapahoe Basin.

The next two days also favour the climbers, with Independence Pass featuring in both stage 3 and 4 before the time trial in Breckenridge on stage 5. The race then heads to the Front Range for two sprinter-friendly stages concluding on Sunday in Denver.

Cyclingnews recruited SmartStop director and retired pro Mike Creed to give his predictions on the stages. You can find his previews along with the stage maps and profiles here.

stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado Springs

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