News shorts: López shines in the Tour de Suisse mountains, Astana defends Solovey sacking

Veelers and de Kort extend with Giant-Alpecin, Ulissi in Slovenia, UCI 1.2 White Spot-Delta returns to BC Superweek

On the queen stage of the Tour de Suisse, 21-year-old Miguel Ángel López confirmed he is another Colombian climbing talent. The Astana rider was fourth on the high-mountain stage to Rettenbachgletscher to slot into fifth overall, 20 seconds ahead of teammate Jakob Fuglsang. López, the 2014 Tour de l'Avenir champion, showed his colours at the Tour of Turkey last month as he finished second in Selcuk before returning home for a block of training.

"It was a very complicated and hard stage at altitude. It may be a surprise, but I have worked for this. The team has given me the confidence to train good at altitude in Colombia. It is not a surprise for me because I can climb well and every day I gained confidence," López told Biciciclismo.

López started the stage with the task of looking after Fuglsang but found the 2,669-metre elevation of the climb better suited his characteristics.

"I was very concerned with keeping my strength and looking after Jakob. When the attacks began, I could follow them but it was important not to go too deep," he added.

López hasn't ridden a time trial in 2015 with his last race against the clock being the U23 World Championships time trial, where he finished 36th.

"I'm not so bad in a time trial, although this is very long," he said, referring to the 38km chrono on the final stage. "And I've trained very little because in Colombia it is not that easy. But I think it's important to have good legs." 

Miguel Lopez (Astana) climbing

Astana-Acca Due O deny Solovey's sacking due to nationality

The Astana-Acca Due O team today issued a vehement denial that Ukrainian Anna Solovey was let go from the team because she refused to switch her nationality to Kazakhstan, as alleged by the president of the Ukrainian federation.

The team stated, "this is a decision taken independently by team Astana-Acca Due O and its president Maurizio Fabretto. A rider that can win medals to big events like the World Championships or the European Games gives great visibility to team's sponsor whether she is Ukrainian, Kazakh or Italian, and it's not easy for us to part with such a rider, but the situation was no longer bearable."

They stated that Solovey refused to hold to a previously agreed upon race schedule, and no-showed for the Philadelphia World Cup, costing the entire team its participation because they failed to meet the minimum number of riders.

"After weeks of difficulties, at the start of May Astana-Acca Due O sent to the rider and to Ukrainian Cycling Federation a formal notice to fulfill the contract signed on November 2014, asking Anna how she intended to honor her commitments until the end of the season. Once again we received no answer and we knew something about her activity only indirectly through the social networks, where we also saw that she went at races using different material than that of the team.

"How can we trust in a rider that disappears and refuses to talk with us? For us this is not a professional behaviour and to protect the team and its sponsors the termination of the contract was inevitable, we notified first to her and her Federation, then we made it public. To be as most correct as possible we also leave her free before the transfers deadline in case she wants to sign with another team."

Solovey won a silver medal racing for her national team at the European Games in Baku today.

Anna Solovey (Ukraine), Ellen van Dijk and Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)
Anna Solovey, left, on the podium at the European Games (Photo: Bettini)

Dutch duo extend with Giant-Alpecin

Dutch duo Tom Veelers and Koen de Kort, two of Giant-Alpecin’s longest serving riders, have extended their contracts with the German team.

Thirty-year-old Veelers, who joined in 2008, has signed up for another two years that will take him through to the end of 2017, while 32-year-old de Kort, with the team since 2009, is extending for one year.

Veelers has made a name for himself as one of the top lead-out men in the business and has had a big part to play in the rise to prominence of Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb.

“I am very happy with my contract renewal,” said the Dutchman in a statement from the team. “The team feels like home to me, and I completely support the team’s vision and way of working.

“My personal goals include educating the younger guys and preparing them to one day take over my position. I also want to keep challenging myself to contribute to the victories of the team and distinguish myself in my role.”

Rudi Kemna, the team’s directeur sportif, emphasised the importance of the experience that the two men will bring to the team.

“Koen is an important support rider both in the classics and in the sprint preparation. He is part of the core of the team, and his experience is very important to a lot of our younger riders,” he said. “Tom has gained a great deal of experience over the years as well, which he conveys to the team. As the last man in the lead-out train, he makes a significant contribution to the victories of our sprinters.”

Tom Veelers (Giant-Alpecin)

Lampre-Merida pleased with Ulissi's opening time trial in Slovenia

Diego Ulissi rode into a third-place performance during the opening stage of the Tour de Slovénie on Thursday in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The Italian, fresh off of a stage win at the Giro d'Italia (his first win since returning from suspension), covered the 8.8km course in 10:24 minutes. He was two seconds slower than both stage winner Artem Ovechkin (Katusha) and runner-up Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky).

Lampre-Merida placed three in the top 15 with Max Richeze in 14th and Jan Polanc in 15th. "Ulissi performance is very good, but it's also important to note that the whole group of Lampre-Merida riders realzied good performances at their best," said director Mario Scirea.

"We only regret the fact that Ulissi did not cover, in a perfect way, two bends in the final part of the course, after that, he had been impressive in the straight which charazterized the early kilometers."

Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida)

BC Superweek showcases UCI 1.2 White Spot-Delta Road Race

BC Superweek will once again offer a UCI 1.2 event for both men and women along with $120,000 in prize money during the eight races held from July 10-18 in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

The series kicks off with the Tour de Delta (July 10-12), UBC Grand Prix p/b Mahony & Sons (July 14), Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix (July 15), Giro di Burnaby p/b Appia Development (July 16) and Beverley by Cressey presents the Tour de White Rock (July 17 and18).

The final stage of the Tour de Delta will once again host the UCI 1.2 White Spot-Delta Road Race for both the men’s and women’s field, last year won by Optum teammates Jesse Anthony and Leah Kirchmann.

“The UCI sanctioning allows countries to accumulate valuable points towards international rankings, which increases the number of athletes who can compete at World Championships and the Olympic Games. Racing on Canadian soil also allows more Canadian riders to participate. That, combined with home field advantage, allows us the opportunity to hopefully maximize the amount of points our riders can achieve,” said Cycling Canada President John Tolkamp.

Organizers of the UCI event have altered the course to include two loops totalling 13.15km.

Jesse Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies) wins the Tour de Delta Men's UCI Race

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