Neri Sottoli to divert sponsorship to junior team
Following Luca Scinto's decision to take a step back from his role as directeur sportif of the YellowFluo team, Neri Sottoli has announced that it will no longer be the title sponsor of the squad in 2015.
While Neri Sottoli will remain a minor backer and its name will still feature on the team's jerseys, its primary focus will now be on the affiliated junior outfit, which is named in honour of the late Franco Ballerini. Scinto has intimated that he will help out with the junior team on an ad hoc basis in 2015.
"We absolutely don’t want to abandon the professionals and our name will remain on the team jersey," said Giuliano Baronti of Neri Sottoli. "We would simply like to invest more in the team that bears the name of our friend Franco Ballerini."
Neri Sottoli's scaled back partnership is yet another blow for Angelo Citracca's team following Matteo Rabottini’s positive test for EPO and Scinto's decision to take a sabbatical. Despite the setbacks, the squad remains hopeful of landing one of the five wildcard berths for the Giro d'Italia, which Mauro Vegni has suggested will again give priority to Italian teams. The invitations will be announced in mid-January.
Uphill finish on second day of Challenge Mallorca
The second leg of the 2015 Challenge Mallorca, the Trofeo Andratx, will feature a summit finish atop the Mirador d'Es Colomer, according to Biciciclismo.com.
The 3.5km climb has an average gradient of 6.5% and was previously part of the race for three successive seasons in the middle of the last decade. Alejandro Valverde won there in 2005, David Bernabeu in 2006 and Thomas Dekker took the win in 2007.
The Challenge Mallorca takes place from January 29 to February 1, kicking off with the Trofeo Santanyi, followed by the Trofeo Andratx, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and the Trofeo Playa de Palma.
Le Mével to become rider agent
After retiring at the end of the 2014 season, Christophe Le Mével had revealed that he plans to remain in cycling as a rider agent. The Frenchman finished 10th overall at the 2009 Tour de France and won a stage of the 2005 Giro d'Italia during a 14-year professional career.
"To become an agent, you need to complete a diploma that's approved by the French Cycling Federation and the UCI and that won't be done before the end of 2015," Le Mével told Télégramme. "At the same time, I want to go to management school for two years to get some extra qualifications. That wouldn't stop me from working for ASO or a television consultant if the opportunity presented itself."
Le Mével, who spent the last two years of his career at Cofidis, said that he hopes to approach the role of agent in a novel way. "Today your agent takes care of you when you're at the end of your contract and need a new team. I want to offer a wider service," he said. "I'm talking about helping with training, medical and even financial advice, because a career is short."
Forest rangers defend Nibali action
The State Forestry Corps in Sicily has responded to the very minor polemic that has grown up around Vincenzo Nibali's abortive training ride last week. Forestry rangers stopped Nibali during a training ride on a climb near Villafranca, pointing out that the road was closed to traffic due to the icy conditions.
"If Nibali had fallen, the blame would have been placed on the Forestry Corps and who knows how many polemics that would have caused, given that we're talking about a world-famous champion," a spokesperson for the Forestry Corps told Il Giornale di Sicilia.
The statement also stressed that Nibali had not been asked to present identity documents and added that he would be welcome on the climb in future – provided the conditions allow. "We could even provide him with an escort during his climbs, for us it would be an honour. But when it's a matter of public safety, we can't provide a dispensation."