News Shorts: Quintana to start season in San Luis with eye toward France

Team SmartStop owners launch new women's UCI team, Bianchi unveils team bikes for LottoNL-Jumbo

Quintana's path to France after San Luis is yet to be determined

Giro d'Italia champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will start his 2015 season with a title defense at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina as part of his buildup for the Tour de France in July.

The UCI 2.1 race takes place January 18-25. World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski, Mark Cavendish, Carlos Betancur, Thomas Voeckler, Filippo Pozatto, Dani Moreno and Jani Brajkovic have previously confirmed they will ride in San Luis.

“I like San Luis,” Quintana said. “It is really important for Argentinian and American supporters because they identify themselves with me. They are proud of me and I feel happy and flattered.”

The 24-year-old Colombian has made it clear that he will target the French Grand Tour this year. During Quintana's one-and-only appearance at the Tour in 2013, he finished second behind Chris Froome. Quintana skipped the Tour this year in favour of the Giro.

Quintan's program after San Luis has not yet been confirmed. “After having won the Giro, he only rode the Vuelta a Burgos and some stages of La Vuelta, and we think that he must start to ride soon, but with caution because the goal is in July," said Movistar Team Manager Eusebio Unzúe.

Bianchi unveils team bikes for LottoNL-Jumbo, new women's team

Italian bicycle manufacturer Bianchi will support several professional teams in 2015, and this week unveiled images of the framesets to be used by the LottoNL-Jumbo squad, the new moniker for this year's Belkin squad, and a new professional women's team headed up by Rosella Ratto, Team Inpa Bianchi Giusfredi.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo will be aboard the Oltre XR2 carbon frame, sporting the company's 130th anniversary logo, with its signature celeste colour, aerodynamic shape and Ultra Thin Seat Stays. The frame has an integrated aero fork and internal cable routing to accommodate either Shimano Di2 electronic or mechanical groups,

Bianchi puts the frame's weight at 895g for a 55cm sized frame.

The LottoNL-Jumbo Bianchi Oltre XR2

LottoNL-Jumbo grew out of the Belkin squad after the American company decided not to continue its sponsorship. Richard Plugge's team will be clad in a yellow and black kit, with a special uniform design for the Tour de France that won't conflict with the race's leader's jersey.

Rossella Ratto, third at the UCI Road World Championships in 2013, will head up Team Inpa Bianchi Giusfredi aboard the Oltre XR2 Dama Bianca with Campagnolo Record and Campagnolo Bora wheels.

Bob Ippolito, the CEO of Bianchi, was pleased to support the new project. "An historic and famous brand like Bianchi adds credibility to women’s cycling, confirming the growth and maturity of the whole movement," he said.

The team will take on the UCI World Cup and put a focus on the top Italian race, the Giro d'Italia Femminile. The team also includes former Junior World champion Anna Trevisi, Anna Zita Maria Stricker, Valentina Bastianelli, Alice Maria Arzuffi, Tetiana Riabchenko, Ane Gonzales Santesteban, Daiva Tuslaite, Liisi Rist, Claudia Cretti and Angela Maffeis.

Team SmartStop owners launch women's UCI team

Team SmartStop owner Premier Sports Group this week announced it will launch a new UCI-registered women’s team for 2015. The team will have different title and presenting sponsors from the current men's team, according to General Manager Omer Kem, but the name and roster details have not yet been released.

Following discussions with several of the men's team sponsors, Premiere co-owners James Bennett and Patrick Raines saw gaps in the American women’s circuit and the opportunity to fill that gap with a new team, according to a statement Premiere released Monday.

“At first, the women’s program seemed to be supported by sponsor requests for another product from Premier Sports Group at a different price point than the men’s program,” Bennett said. “So my motivations were originally business related. I learned very quickly the momentum in women’s sports and how this was just the right thing to do.”

The team, whose name is to be announced in the coming weeks, will have a focus on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar, UCI women’s races in the United States and some international racing.

With a number of major American races introducing women’s racing to their programs, there is even more opportunity in the United States to showcase the pool of talent in women’s cycling and the sponsors on the world stage.

“Cycling needs more women’s UCI teams and the UCI races are stepping up with more inclusion for women across the globe, so Premier Sports Group stepping up is the natural progression,” Bennett said.

Premiere Sports will announce more information about the women’s team, including the 2015 roster and racing calendar, in the coming weeks.

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