News shorts: Meares aiming high for record-breaking Rio Olympics

Cam Meyer joins Dimension Data, Astana sign Capecchi and Smukulis, Southeast secure 2016 Giro wildcard

Meares aiming high for record-breaking Rio Olympics

An appearance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games would already be a record-breaking achievement by Anna Meares, who would become the first Australian female cyclist to contest four Olympics. The 32-year-old, however, is aiming for her third Olympic gold medal to add her to her 2004 500-metre time trial and 2012 sprint successes.

"No one's done four before, so I'm hugely proud," Meares told AAP. "And I'm hugely proud of even attempting to do something like that. I think sometimes that can be lost with people who don't know or perhaps don't appreciate that - not just the longevity but still delivering.

"I'm not in my twilight years. I'm still well and truly young at heart. Things are actually in a really good place for me now."

Meares made her first appearance since the Track Worlds at the Oceania Championships last week, winning the team sprint with Kaarle McCulloch and claiming bronze in the keirin. With McCulloch, Stephanie Morton and Caitlin Ward all vying for a spot in Rio, Meares explained she that knows full well she will need to earn her selection for the Brazil Games. 

"There's nothing that says Anna Meares has a start at the Olympic Games," she said. "There's competition. Nothing's guaranteed. If I want to go to Rio, I need to perform by putting my hand up. I don't have a pass, I don't have an easy run. I need to earn my position."

Dimension Data adds third Australian to 2016 roster in Cam Meyer

Cameron Meyer will race in the colours of Dimension Data in 2016 with the South African team announcing the signing of the 27-year-old Australian. Meyer has spent the last four seasons with Orica GreenEdge where he won the Herald Sun Tour, two stages of the Tour de Suisse and finished top-ten overall at Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of California and Tour of Turkey.

"I am very excited to be racing with Team Dimension Data next season. They have had unbelievable results at the biggest races and are moving ahead quickly. I am really looking forward to being a part of their future success," Meyer said in a release from the team.

"My main motivation for joining this professional racing team was not only the pride I would feel being an ambassador on the bike but also the pride of involvement in the successful work for the Qhubeka Charity."

Meyer will join compatriots Nathan Haas and Mark Renshaw at the team.

Astana sign Capecchi and Smukulis

The Astana team has made two further additions to its 2016 roster, signing Eros Capecchi and Gatis Smukulis on one-year deals.

Capecchi was out of contract at Movistar, where he has spent the past three seasons. The 29-year-old Italian has been a professional rider since 2006, his best result being a stage win at the Giro d'Italia in 2011, when riding for Liquigas-Cannondale.

Smukulis, 28, has won the Latvian national time trial title five years in a row and has ridden at Katusha for four years, after turning pro with AG2R La Mondiale and spending a year at HTC-Highroad. 

“Capecchi has great experience and will have the role to support Vincenzo Nibali in the Grand Tours, while Smukulis will be very important in the north great classics with the task of helping our captain Lars Boom," said Astana General Manager Alexandr Vinokourov.

Southeast earn Giro d'Italia ticket with Coppa Italia win

The Southeast team have received the first wildcard invitation to the 2016 Giro d'Italia after they won the teams classification at the Coppa Italia. The season-long competition, made up of 18 races, offers a spot in the Giro to the winning team and Southeast have now claimed that prize two years in a row, their 2014 win coming when they were named Neri-Sottoli.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) emerged victorious on Sunday in the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli, the final race in the series, and in doing so wrapped up his second individual victory in as many years. 

Teams classification
1 Southeast (565 points)
2 MTN-Qhubeka (491)
3 Androni Giocattoli (474)

Individual classification:
1 Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) 194
2 Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) 194
3 Simone Ponzi (Southeast) 192

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