News shorts: Lance Armstrong's doping ban should be reduced, say slim majority of readers

E3 Harelbeke to be shorter in 2016, Bigla annoyed by Tour of Qatar snub, Full team line-up for San Luis confirmed

Slim majority of Cyclingnews readers think Armstrong's ban should be reduced

In was an extremely close-fought affair, but many Cyclingnews readers have expressed sympathy with Lance Armstrong over the length of his ban from sport.

We asked readers via a Twitter poll whether or not the Texan’s lifetime ban, handed down in the wake of the Usada report in 2012, should be reduced. It was neck and neck for much of the 24 hours of polling but in the end a very small majority voiced their belief that the ban should indeed be reduced. Out of the 3,548 people that voted, 52 per cent were in favour, while 48 per cent were against. 

Armstrong has been trying to get his ban reduced for some time now, and he hoped his cooperation with the CIRC report, published in March, would help his cause, but to no avail. He has always felt that he has been something of a scapegoat for the widespread doping that occurred in the peloton during his era, insisting that many others committed indiscretions of a similar scale yet have largely gone unpunished.

Armstrong returned to the headlines on Monday after giving an interview with The Times, in which he once again railed against hypocrisy in cycling. He went as far as to say that if there was an equivalent substance to EPO today, then “everyone would be on it”.

A shorter E3 Harelbeke for 2016

The 2016 edition of E3 Harelbeke will be shorter and will contain less climbing than this season’s race. It will begin and end in Harelbeke as usual but around 10 kilometres will be cut out of the parcours. Organisers have not confirmed the exact route but say that riders hoping for an easier time will be disappointed.

“The idea is to let the stress build a little more,” Guy Dedeyne, one of the race organisers, told Sporza. “The race will be more compact and we have also decided to ride up to the first hill on wider roads. This is to guarantee the safety of the riders.

“The race will flow, and we should be able to start with a compact peloton on the first hill of the day. There are also a few new cobblestones included in the course, so the competition will certainly not be easier. We can already say that a real bear will win this race.”

Geraint Thomas won in 2015 after a late charge in the final four kilometres to beat Zdenek Stybar and a chasing peloton. The 2016 race is due to take place on March 25.

Geraint Thomas celebrates his E3 win.

Bigla annoyed at Ladies Tour of Qatar snub

Bigla Pro Cycling (to be known as Cervelo-Bigla in 2016) have made their displeasure known after missing out on a place at the Tour of Qatar. Race organisers announced the full line-up last week with the Swiss team, who finished fifth in the UCI rankings in 2015, not among them. In a statement on the team’s website, team Manager Thomas Campana said that changes need to be made to the UCI rules.

“As a top 5 UCI team to not be invited it shows clearly that the UCI rules need to be re-evaluated. It’s a major impact for all our sponsors and partners and our race program,” said Campana. “This is a 2.1 ranked race and as a top five team in the world they let us know they we won’t be invited. We have a sprinter in Lotta Lepistö who could win a stage here but the bigger picture is the race program affects our sponsor contracts. Programs are set and training camps are set and it affects everything and we now have to adapt.”

Lizzie Armitstead won last year’s edition. The teams confirmed for the 2016 Ladies Tour of Qatar are: Ale Cipollini, Australia - AIS Cycling, Boels-Dolmans, Canyon SRAM, China Chongming-Liv-Champion-System, Cylance Pro Cycling Team, Equipe de France, Hitec Products, Italian Cycling Federation, Lares-Waowdeals UCI Women Team, Orica-AIS, Rabo Liv Womens Cycling Team, Team Liv Plantur, Unitedhealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Wiggle-Honda.

Lotta Lepistö celebrates with her Bigla teammates

Full team line-up for San Luis named

The final two teams for the Tour de San Luis have been named, bringing the total number to 27. The Dominican Cycling Poject Inteja Cycling and the Brazilian team were added to the list that includes six WorldTour teams and six Pro Continental.

Daniel Diaz of the Funvic Brasilinvest-São José dos Campos team won last year’s edition ahead of Rodolfo Torres and Nairo Quintana. Among the previous winners are Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali. The 2016 race will take place from January 17-24.

Tour de San Luis teams

WorldTour: Movistar, Tinkoff, Astana, Lampre-Merida, AG2R-La Mondiale, Etixx-QuickStep, Cannondale-Garmin.

Pro Continental: Androni Giocattoli, UnitedHealthcare, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, Drapac, Nippo-Vini Fantini.

Continental: San Luis Somos Todos, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Holowesko Hincapie, Sep San Juan, Buenos Aires Provencia, Team Vivo, Inteja-MMR

National: Argentina, Cuba, Colombia, Italy, Maxico, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil.

Nario Quintana climbs alongside Daniel Diaz and Roldofo Torres.

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