Marcel Kittel will be taking the start in the German one-day Vattenfall Cyclassics Sunday. The 221.3km race begins in Kiel and finishes in the town of Hamburg. Sprinters have dominated the event for the past several years, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) winning in 2014 and teammate John Degenkolb the year before.
Giant-Alpecin will be riding with hopes of delivering Kittel for a victory and the team's second win in three years, but will face fierce competition from Etixx-Quickstep's powerful duo of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw.
The German sprinter was left out of the Tour de France and Vuelta a España by his team because of an illness he suffered this past spring. Kittel returned with his first win of the season last week at the Tour de Pologne, with the German WorldTour race a big end-of-season goal for the 26-year-old.
"Our goal at the Vattenfall Cyclassics is to go for a sprint win with Marcel," said director sportif Rudi Kemna. "We have a strong team to help ensure a bunch sprint and to aim for the victory. The course is a little bit different than in recent years, and with a strong Simon Geschke we also have the opportunity to counter a late breakaway, as our goal is to sprint in Hamburg."
Other fastmen supporting Kittel will be Nikias Arndt and Ramon Sinkeldam. Arndt is arriving in good form following his participation at the Eneco Tour, while Sinkeldam recently finished the Artic Race of Norway. Other riders supporting Kittel will be Bert De Backer, Chad Haga, Tobias Ludvigsson and road captain Roy Curvers.
Pryzemyslaw Niemiec and Plaza lead Lampre-Merida at the Vuelta a España
The Lampre-Merida team has named its nine riders for the Vuelta a España, with Pryzemyslaw Niemiec team leader despite a recent crash in training. Ruben Plaza Molina, Kristijan Durasek and sprinter Maximilano Richeze will target stage victories. Plaza Molina won stage 16 of the Tour de France to Gap, while Pryzemyslaw won a stage at the 2014 Vuelta.
Also in the squad are Mattia Cattaneo, Valerio Conti, Ethiopia's Tsgabu Grmay Gebremaryam, Ilia Koshevoy and Nelson Oliveira.
"It will be fundamental for us to have a good attitude in approaching each stage of the Vuelta: our task is to battle each day," said sport director Maini Conti. "Grmay and Koshevoy are young and so they'll be good performers in the attacks, while Durasek and Cattaneo will be good on the more demanding stages. We had to give up on Valls for the classification due to some health problems, and we'll evaluate the condition of Niemiec, who got involved in the past week in a crash while training. The first mountains stages will be an important test. Oliveira and Plaza are important values for the team, since they demonstrated their qualities in the great tours."
FDJ announce young Vuelta a España roster
FDJ has released its nine-rider selection for the Vuelta a España starting later this week. The French squad is sending a dominantly young team with a few veterans in the mix to compete in the last grand tour of the season. Although there is no set GC leader, several riders will be looking for opportunities for stage wins, including Kévin Reza and Kenny Elissonde, who won a stage in 2013.
"Kévin Reza really wants to do great things at this race," said team manager Frank Pineau. "Reza will be racing in his first Vuelta, though he has competed in several grand tours. When the road rises, we can count on Kenny Elissonde, who won a stage in 2013."
Lorrenzo Manzin and Olivier Le Gac, two neo-pros, will also line up, with Manzin a hopeful for the sprints on his grand tour debut. Laurent Pichon is another Vuelta debutant, while Arnaud Courteille, Mickaël Delage and Murilo Fischer offer experience for their younger teammates at the three-week race.
Nys reveals new jersey for final cross season
Sven Nys and his Crelan Team AA Drink teammate Sven Vanthourenhout unveiled their new jersey for the 2015-2016 cyclo-cross season, the last of Nys' long and successful career. The multiple world champion, World Cup and Superprestige series winner plans to end his career at the world championships in Zolder at the end of January 2016.
Nys and Vanthourenhout will race in the new black-and-green colours for the first time at the opening round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup series in Las Vegas on September 16.
"We wanted a better design, and this one suits us and the sponsors really well," Nys said. "I’m happy to end my career in style in such a beautiful jersey."
Lewis to ride for Cannondale-Garmin in 2016
Craig Lewis will return to the top level of the sport next season in the green and black of Cannondale-Garmin having retired from the sport in February 2014. Lewis rode with the HTC squad between 2009 and 2011 before going onto ride with the Pro-Continental Champion System team for two seasons. The 29-year-old rode the 2010 and 2011 editions of the Giro d'Italia during his career. Lewis announced the news via Twitter, writing "2016, comeback! Thx @Vaughters for believing in me!" along with a photo of the team jersey.