News shorts: Pro riders cleared for Cape Town Cycle Tour

Etixx-QuikStep skip Het Nieuwsblad recon, Synergy Baku presentation, MTN-Qhubeka to Amstel Gold

UCI allows pro riders in Cape Town Cycle Tour

The UCI has struck a deal with Cycling South Africa that will allow licensed riders to participate in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, which is not sanctioned by the national governing body, according to a report today on IOL Sport.

The participation of top pros such as Etixx-QuickStep's Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw was cast into doubt when the international governing body said it would be enforcing its "forbidden races rule" for the 2015 cycling season. The rule prohibits UCI-licensed riders from participating in an event that is "not on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI."

The Cape Town Cycle Tour, which combines a road race and mass-participation ride for 35,000 people, is not sanctioned by the national governing body. The UCI initially stated that licensed riders taking part in the event would be subject to a fine and a 30-day ban from future sanctioned events.

The cycle tour's organisers won the right in court last year to host its events without Cycling South Africa sanctioning, because the extra fees and licensing amounted to an "unfair and unnecessary tax," according to the IOL Sport report.

Cycling South Africa, the UCI and event organisers reached an agreement on Monday, however, that will allow the event to move forward with the proper sanctioning to allow participation by UCI-licensed riders.

"It is with great pleasure that Cycling South Africa, Pedal Power Association and the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust announce that an agreement has been reached between the three organisations in respect of the 2015 Cape Town Cycle Tour," Cycling South Africa said in a statement. "The outcome of recent discussions between the parties is that the events of the Cape Town Lifecycle Week have been placed on the National Cycling Calendar of Cycling SA."

Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish have a long-running partnership.

Etixx-QuickStep see no need to recon Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Etixx-QuickStep are banking on local knowledge being enough for a strong showing at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.

The Belgian team will not be joining others over the next few days in familiarising themselves with some of the cobbles that line the 200.2km route of the 70th edition of the season-opening Classic.

Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin will ride the last 70km together on Friday, but apart from that, the team will rely on their riders’ experience of the Flandrian roads.

"Most of the guys know the region all too well," directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters told the Gazet van Antwerpen. "The climbs are still the same as in previous years. Some riders are just back from Oman and it is not ideal to then hastily arrange to explore Omloop.

"Besides, that region is pretty much the training ground of Iljo Keisse, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Stijn Vandenbergh."

Stijn Vandenbergh muscles up the Taaienberg

Synergy Baku presented in Ljubljana

The Synergy Baku Cycling Project presented their 2015 squad to the public and media Tuesday morning in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The young Azerbaijan team is going into the new season with the dual goals of further developing the young riders and qualifying the land for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The team has their new base in Slovenia and features two Slovenian sport directors, Tomaz Poljanec and former pro Andre Hauptman, as well as national champion Matej Mugerli.

Another new addition to the team is Alexandr Pliuschin, who has ridden for various WorldTour team. "I am Looking forward to helping the young Azeri riders develop – the development of a new cycling nation – and qualifying them for the 2016 Olympics," he told Cyclingnews. "I also think that I can bring in wins for the team and by doing that, share my experience with the youngsters."

2015 Synergy Baku Cycling Project team

MTN-Qhubeka pleased with Amstel Gold Race invitation

Organizers of the Amstel Gold Race announced that MTN-Qhubeka was one of the wildcard teams selected to compete in this year’s edition held on April 19 in the Netherlands. Rider Jay Thomson was pleased with the team’s first-ever invitation to the race and said they will be taking their chances on the win.

"It is a really great invite to get to take part in the Ardennes classic, Amstel Gold Race," Thomson said. "It is the true start to the hard climbing classics to the south of Belgium and it is another outstanding monumental race MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung is invited to. It is going to be great to watch one of our climbers or one of us opportunists take our chance at a big race."

The other wildcard invitations went to CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Culte Energy, Bardiani-CSF, Team Roompot, Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise.

Cremers Injured in Crash in Dominican Republic

Team Novo Nordisk’s Ruud Cremers sustained a head injury during Monday’s Stage 2 of the Vuelta Independencia Nacional in the Dominican Republic.

Cremers, from Gulpen, the Netherlands, crashed during Stage 2 of the Vuelta Independencia Nacional and was unable to continue the race. The 23-year-old was transferred to the hospital where he is currently in stable condition and showing improvement.

"Everyone at Team Novo Nordisk is pulling for Ruud’s recovery and doing everything in our power to support him and his family throughout the entire process," Team Novo Nordisk CEO and co-founder Phil Southerland said. "We are using all resources at our disposal to ensure Ruud receives the best possible care. For now, please keep Ruud in your prayers."

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