News shorts: Niemiec renews with Lampre-Merida; Wanty drops Leukemans, adds McNally

Torres to Androni, CPA seeks to expand

Przemyslaw Niemiec has reached an agreement with Lampre-Merida to extend his contract with the Italian squad through the end of the 2017 season. The veteran Polish rider made his WorldTour debut with the team in 2011 after nine years on Continental Italian squads. He won a stage in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana, but crashed out of this year's race on stage 2.

"There are not many cyclists who can sum up experience and climbing qualities as Niemiec," team manager Brent Copeland said. "Przemyslaw is a perfect professional, had has had a fantastic development path, and he is now ready to allow younger runners to take advantage of these qualities. In addition to having his own goals, Niemiec is a fundamental point of reference for young riders who will wear the colours blue-fuchsia-green in the coming seasons, he will be an example to follow and from which to draw inspiration."

Niemiec went winless in 2015, and was relieved to be retained with Lampre, saying it showed the team has faith in him. "I want to show my gratitude through good performances," he said. "I intend to achieve good results next season and I know I can fight for individual success. At the same time I won't forget about the support on the road I can provide to my teammates, especially to many young riders, on the road and off."

The team will set the schedule for the riders in December, and Niemiec hopes to target the Giro d'Italia next year. "I train hard every day to strengthen my legs. In about two weeks’ time I’m going to start training on the bike. I want to be fit and well prepared for the next season, my motivation to ride at a high level is very big. I’ve had a good rest after last season, I don't have to worry about my future and I can focus on riding the best I can next season."

Wanty drops Leukemans, adds McNally

Wanty-Groupe Gobert has decided not to renew the contract for Bjorn Leukemans, the team announced today. The team instead picked up British rider Mark McNally from the Madison-Genesis team.

"This was a difficult decision to take," general manager Jean-François Bourlart said. "Bjorn will be 39 years old in 2016 and his salary weighs heavy on the team budget. He has had an impressive career and two great seasons with Wanty-Groupe Gobert including four victories. He has helped us to bring the team to a higher level. We thank him for what he has brought to Wanty-Groupe Gobert."

Leukemans won the Grote Prijs Jef Scherens and Ronde van Limburg this season, but the team decided to focus on developing young riders, Bourlart added.

"After analyzing the current team situation with our partners, it became necessary to reflect on the future of the team and to make changes to rejuvenate the team and make it more even. That's the reason we have decided the use the available budget to sign young riders who had a very good 2015, in order to become more efficient as a team on all terrains."

McNally was recruited to the team through his manager Roger Hammond, who is well acquainted with Wanty manager Hilaire Van Der Schueren.

"I am very excited, naturally,” McNally said. “This is a step up. It was a long time coming and it’s a dream come true. This is my first pro contract and riding with a Pro-Continental team enables me to ride WorldTour-level races. Flanders and Roubaix have always been a dream."

Racing in Belgium shouldn't be a problem, as McNally already knows a little Flemish and has become familiar with the racing. "Belgian cycling suits me well. Fast races without long climbs where I hope to show my versatility: working for a sprinter, being in a breakaway or ride for a result myself. I like the life in Belgium, much more relaxed than the UK."

"I already showed that I am competitive in the Belgian races that Madison-Genesis did this August: one win, one podium and one top ten. Some riders on the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team I know already. Roy Jans and I were on An Post-Chain Reaction together. I expect I’ll adjust well and that we’ll have a great season together."

Mark McNally (Madison Genesis) was the most combative rider
Mark McNally was voted most combative rider of stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire

Androni-Giocattoli snaps up Torres

Since the demise of Team Colombia, many quality riders have been thrown into the market, and climber Rodolfo Torres was one of the first to be snapped up by the Androni Giocattoli team.

Torres won the mountains classifications in the Tour de San Luis, Giro del Trentino, and Vuelta Asturias, and was second overall in Tour de San Luis. He was second in stage 16 of the Vuelta a Espana behind Fränk Schleck.

Rodolfo Torres (Colombia)
Rodolfo Torres was the mountains classification winner at the Giro del Trentino

CPA to add new federations

The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) announced this week it will seek to expand its member base to include all of the riders in the professional peloton.

The organisation has currently as its members the WorldTour and Professional Continental riders, plus seven national associations - Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and the ANAPRC (Association of North American Professional Road Cyclists), but wants to ensure all riders are represented.

"Our bylaw states that the CPA automatically represents every professional rider, either individually or through a national association," said Gianni Bugno, President of the CPA, "so any rider that needs our help can always turn to us in all circumstances. However, our goal has always been to create national federations that could actively participate at our meetings and support the riders on their territory."

The ANAPRC was formed to give representation to US and Canadian riders, and later amended its bylaws to become a blanket organisation to represent riders from 44 countries. 

The CPA says that new national organisations will be created to fill the gaps, with Australians Michael Rogers, Mathew Hayman and Adam Hansen leading the charge. Bernhard Eisel supported the creation of an association of professional cyclists with German language.

The unions have helped to steer race organisers and the UCI to adopt procedures to make decisions when races are affected by bad weather, the Extreme Weather Protocol.

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