Quintana targets Tour de France in 2015
Nairo Quintana has confirmed that he will return to the Tour de France next season. Second overall on his debut in 2013, the Colombian missed this year’s race after Movistar opted to send him to the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España instead.
“After winning the Giro this year and crashing out of the Vuelta while race leader, my big objective for 2015 will be the Tour de France,” Quintana told ESPN, adding that his recovery from the broken shoulder that ended his Vuelta is ongoing. “At the moment I’ve reached 75% mobility in my arm, but I think that things will improve further in the next couple of weeks.”
Quintana has also outlined his full race programme for the first half of 2015. According to Tuttobici, he will resume action at the Tour de San Luis (January 19-25) before travelling to Europe for Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya, Tour of the Basque Country and Ardennes classics. After a spell of altitude training in Colombia, Quintana has pencilled in the Tour de Suisse (June 13-21) as his final race before the Tour de France.
Berhane signs with MTN-Qhubeka
MTN-Qhubeka has confirmed the arrival of Natnael Berhane for 2015. The Eritrean arrives after two years at Europcar, where he claimed the Tour of Turkey in 2013 and won the Tropicale Amissa Bongo in January of this year.
Still only 23 years of age, Berhane completed his first grand tour at the recent Vuelta a España, and will seek to develop still further at the ambitious MTN-Qhubeka team, where his compatriot Daniel Teklehaimanot is already on the roster.
“My main objective is to help the team to achieve good results in the important races that we will take part in. I would love to be part of the first African team taking the start in Le Tour de France as well,” Berhane said. “Personally, I want to achieve results that will bring much prestige to the team and at the same time, I want to give everybody in Eritrea a reason to be proud.”
MTN-Qhubeka has been very active in the transfer market thus far, with signings including Edvald Boasson Hagen, Matt Goss, Tyler Farrar and Steve Cummings, and is pushing for a berth at the Tour de France in 2015.
Becker joins Hitec roster
Charlotte Becker has signed a two-year deal with Team Hitec Products. The 30-year-old German has spent the last two seasons at Wiggle Honda.
Becker was part of the Specialized-Lululemon team that won the World TTT in 2012 but has a palmares that has extended to stage race victories and track racing.
“Her experience will be an invaluable asset to the education of the young riders in the team,” her future team said in a press release.
Breschel wants to make use of special form
Already a medallist in 2008 and 2010, Matti Breschel continued his fine World Championships record with a surprising fourth place finish in Ponferrada on Sunday. Although the season is drawing to an end, the Tinkoff-Saxo man is loath to let his autumn form go to waste and has three more races pencilled in before ending his campaign.
“It’s obvious that I have to use my current shape to bring home some good results now that I've got it,” Breschel said. “My plan is to do l’Eurométrople, Paris-Bourges and finally Paris-Tour on the 12th of October. It’s very late in the season, so there’re a lot of guys with empty legs and I have to use that to my advantage, as I’m still in a strong shape after the Worlds.”
Tour to Thailand? Lost in translation
ASO has moved promptly to correct a report circulating on Thursday morning which speculated that the Tour de France could start in Thailand in 2016, clarifying that it is in talks to hold a criterium in South-East Asia rather than the Grand Départ itself.
“We’re not sure yet how many stages we will hold whether it is one or two stages or the whole competition. This is something that still needs to be discussed,” Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Thawatchai Arunyik had optimistically told Reuters in the initial report.
An ASO spokesman later explained to Reuters that there had been some confusion and that the Tour organiser was not planning to bring the race itself to Thailand. “There are talks, but not to bring the Tour to Thailand,” he said. “There are discussions to settle in Thailand via a criterium, just like we did in Japan with the ‘Saitama Criterium by Le Tour de France.’”
Indeed, the Saitama Criterium – the first race outside the Grande Boucle itself to bear the “Tour de France” moniker – will return for its second running on October 25, with Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali and Chris Froome among those pencilled in for the trip to Japan.