News Shorts: Kristoff to ride 2015 Giro d'Italia

Stybar in doubt for cyclo-cross Worlds, Pro Conti licence for Drapac

Giro and Vuelta for Kristoff in 2015?

Alexander Kristoff looks set to ride the Giro d'Italia in 2015 and will also line up at the Vuelta a España as preparation for the World Championships in Richmond, according to his Katusha teammate Luca Paolini.

Speaking to Tuttobiciweb.it about his 2015 racing programme, Paolini said: "The team would like to have me ride the Giro as I'm Italian and to help [Yuri] Trofimov, who is our Russian for the general classification, and Kristoff, who will look to win some stages. Alexander will then ride the Vuelta with a view to the Worlds, given that the course looks very suited to an athlete of his characteristics."

Kristoff won two stages of this year's Tour de France but it remains to be seen if he will be part of Katusha's selection for 2015. Paolini explained that Joaquim Rodriguez is likely to lead the line at the Tour on a mountainous parcours well-suited to his characteristics.

Kristoff and Rodriguez will discuss their 2015 programmes in greater detail on Friday when they appear before the press at the Katusha training camp in Calpe.

Cyclo-cross Worlds in doubt for Stybar

Zdenek Stybar might miss out on the remainder of the cyclo-cross season and the possibility of defending his world title in front of home crowds in Tabor, according to Omega Pharma-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere.

Stybar had originally aimed to race in a scattering of cyclo-cross events over the winter but his plans were forcibly altered when he ruptured ligaments in his right shoulder in a crash at a cyclo-cross event in Ardooie in October.

"On Thursday, Stybar will have some tests in Louvain and we’ll see what state he's in," Lefevere told the Belga news agency. "On Sunday, he'll go with the team to the training camp [in Spain – ed.] and we'll decide on his programme down there. So it's possible that he mightn't be able to participate any further in the cyclo-cross season but it's not yet 100 percent sure.

"We have to wait for the results of these tests. Once we know where he's at, we'll be able take a decision about his participation at the Bredene Superprestige [in late December] and the Worlds in Tabor."

Winner of the cyclo-cross Worlds in 2010 and 2011, Stybar switched his focus to the road in 2012 and has been an important part of QuickStep's cobbled classics unit in the past two seasons. Last year, the Czech raced a truncated cyclo-cross season of just six races but emerged to upset Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels at the Worlds in Hoogerheide.

Pro-Continental licence assurance for Drapac

Drapac has received confirmation it will be racing under a Pro-Continental license in 2015 after the Australian team was confirmed to have fulfilled the ethical, financial and administrative demands set out by the UCI and Ernst & Young. It will be the second consecutive year at Pro-Continental level for Drapac with team manager Jonathan Breekveldt happy to have received the news.

"Of course I was confident we'd get the license, but I still consider it really important that the UCI and Ernst & Young have a close look at budgets, insurances and other aspects," Breekveldt said. "This gives organisers, teams, partners and riders some guarantees. For our part we are grateful that the UCI also helped the team – given that we are based on the other side of the world."

The team has added former WorldTour riders Martin Kohler (BMC) and Graeme Brown (Belkin) to its roster in the last week in a sign of intent to build in its successes of 2014 as performance director director Keith Flory said.

"We have been together with the 2015 team throughout this week working towards the new season, which obviously will start with a great Australian summer of cycling," Flory said. "2014 was our best season to date and one of our key goals 2015 is to extend the program so our riders will be challenged even more, and we believe that our selection is ready for it."

Three days for BeNe Ladies Tour

The organisers of the BeNe Ladies Tour were so happy with the first edition of the race that they have decided to extend it to three days for 2015. Next year's edition will begin on July 17 with the opening stage starting and finishing in Philippine, according to Het Nieuwsblad. Day two will take place in St. Laureins, and will feature a time trial in the morning and an open road stage in the evening. The race will close with a stage to Zelzate.

The report also states that each of the three host towns have signed an agreement that will ensure the race has a home until 2017. The opening edition of the BeNe Ladies Tour was won by Emma Johansson, who beat Belgian rider Jolien d'Hoore by two seconds after claiming victory in the time trial.

Five WorldTour teams named for Volta ao Algarve

The Volta ao Algarve today named five of the WorldTour teams that will make up the 20-team peloton for the UCI 2.1 race that is scheduled to take place February 18-22. Belgian teams Lotto Soudal and Ettix-QuickStep will join Team Sky of Britain, Cannondale-Garmin of the US and Katusha of Russia when the race begins in southern Portugal.

In addition to these teams, the peloton for the 41st edition of the race will include six or seven Portuguese Continental teams and more squads from the WorldTour and Pro Continental ranks. The remaining teams will be announced in the coming weeks. The race, organized by the Portuguese Cycling Federation, will have one summit finish, an individual time trial of about 20 km, a medium mountain stage without a summit finish and two stages for the sprinters.

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