News shorts: Prudhomme says Dutch Tour de France bill is baseless

Astellas hiring GC rider, Caja Rural completes team, Twitter poll results are in!

Prudhomme says Dutch Tour de France bill is baseless

The director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, has disputed the validity of a €140,000 bill sent to him by the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) for the Tour start in Utrecht. Prudhomme told Raymond Kerckhoffs of de Telegraaf that the bill was "absurdly high and baseless".

Race promoters in the Netherlands normally pay a fee to the KNWU, but the local organising committee from Utrecht says its role in hosting the Tour de France was merely to facilitate the race, not to organise it. They felt the fee should be paid by Tour de France organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).

In the rich history of the Tour de France the organizers ASO has never, for a Grand Départ, had to pay a bill to a national cycling federation. "Out of nowhere, we received a bill of almost 140,000 euros from the Dutch Cycling Federation (National Federation). An absurdly high amount, baseless," notes Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

KNWU director Huib Kloosterhuis said, "ASO does not want to pay, but it must conform to the rules of the country that it visits."

Prudhomme disagreed. "We are lacking any explanation of how the union came to this amount and what it has done for this. Never before, not in London, Monaco, Yorkshire or Rotterdam, we have ever received such a bill from a federation. "

But Kloosterhuis says the rules are clear: a Grand Tour opening stage or prologue costs €106,009. Each additional stage of the Tour, Giro or Vuelta in the Netherlands would be €15,902. "The amount is linked to the size of a race," said Kloosterhuis. The Amstel Gold Race costs €7,951 and a women's classic €1,325.

Kloosterhuis maintains the fee is small compared to the Utrecht Tour de France overall budget of €15.4 million. "So the amount we ask is barely a percent. Dutch cycling should also be able to profit a little from such a huge event."

The dispute could impact future Grand Tour visits to the Netherlands, since the ASO is also a shareholder in the Vuelta a Espana. Prudhomme regrets the position of the KNWU, saying, "The Tour loves Netherlands. Consider the successes in Rotterdam and Utrecht. Limburg has now been nominated [for a 2017 Tour de France stage] but for now we await the outcome of the arbitration."

Kloosterhuis insists that the Giro d'Italia organisers have agreed to the €138.000 fee for the race's 2016 start in Gelderland, but Masja van de Wielen, the spokesperson for the local organising committee disputed that. "I can state that there is nothing arranged with the KNWU over this contribution." RCS Sport director Mauro Vegni said the fee is between the local organisers and the federation.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme would have been happy with today's stage

Astellas seeking three riders for 2016

The Astellas Professional Cycling Team is looking for a young, talented rider who can target the general classification for stage races in North America with an eye at earning an invitation to the Tour of Utah next August. They are also looking for one or two riders for their criterium squad.

The Midwestern team is entering its fifth season and will continue in the Continental ranks. It wants to focus on the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar (NCC) and National Road Calendar (NRC) for 2016.

Team owner Andrew Frey laid out the squad's lofty ambitions: “Our goals for 2016 are to be the number one team on the NCC and to reach our potential on the road. To that end, we are looking for a young GC guy and one or two more Criterium guys. We aren’t looking for a sprinter, but more so guys who are just really fast.

“In terms of potential on the road, we are looking for someone who can reach podium success at NRC and UCI 2.2 races, and we are looking to receive invitations into races such as the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah in August."

Astellas Pharma will continue as the team's sponsor next season, and Frey hopes to make a full roster and sponsor announcement in the next month.

The Astellas train

Caja Rural-RGA finalises 2016 roster, gathers in Navarra

The Caja Rural-RGA squad is gathering in Tudela, Navarra for their off-season meeting with a 20-rider squad for the 2016 season. Returning is sprinter Carlos Barbera, who handed the team five victories this year, and Pello Bilbao, winner of Tour de Beauce and stages of the Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey.

Although the team lost Amets Txurruka to Orica-GreenEdge, they retained all-rounders José Gonçalves, who had two top-three stage finishes during the Vuelta a Espana, and Lluís Mas, winner of a stage in the Tour of Turkey.

Directeur sportif José Miguel Fernández was satisfied with the team's performance this year, and hopes to build on the effort in the coming season. "After a difficult start to the season due to several riders being injured, we were able to turn things around with Pello Bilbao's victory at Vuelta a Castilla y León," Fernández said. "From there, we were able to achieve several important victories, like at the Philadelphia Classic with Carlos Barbero, and Lluís Mas was spectacular at the Tour of Turkey. Our big goal was a stage win at the Vuelta a España. But after coming close several times, we came up just short."

The team adds Spanish climber Alberto Gallego, 24, seventh overall at Route du Sud and third overall at Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid and GP Internacional Torres Vedras, and his compatriots Diego Rubio and Jaime Roson.

Rubio, 24, was second in the Vuelta Ciclista Comunidad de Madrid, while Roson, 22, is the reigning under-23 road race champion. He raced with the team as a stagiaire at the USA Pro Challenge, taking 12th overall.

Team Caja Rural-RGA for 2016: Javier Aramendia, David Arroyo, Carlos Barbero, Miguel Angel Benito, Pello Bilbao, Hugh Carthy, Fabricio Ferrari, José Gonçalves, Angel Madrazo, Lluís Mas, Antonio Molina, Sergio Pardilla, Eduard Prades, Hector Saez, Ricardo Vilela. Newcomers: Alberto Gallego, Domingo Gonçalves, Jonathan Lastra, Jaime Roson, Diego Rubio.

 Caja Rural - Seguros RGA

Twitter poll results - Should the Grand Tours be allowed to start in different continents?

Cyclingnews reached out to Twitter followers Tuesday asking them to cast their votes in a 24-hour poll on whether the Grand Tours should be allowed to start in a different continent, and the results are in:  45% said Yes! and 55% said No way.

The poll was relevant to recent reports this week that the 2017 Giro d'Italia might start in Japan, specifically Shizuoka, south of Tokyo, and even climb Mount Fuji. The riders would then travel back to Italy, take two rest days, and resume the three-week Grand Tour. The reports were dismissed by race director Mauro Vegni, but the head of RCS Sport confirmed he is open to exploring the possibility of the Giro d'Italia starting in a different continent in the years to come.

The 2016 Giro d'Italia route persentation

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