The riders of Milan-San Remo may be arriving in Italy a little later than normal due to an air traffic controllers strike set to take place on Friday. The strike will mean no planes can land between 10:00 and 18:00 on Friday, and while some airlines are making arrangements to push flights onto an earlier schedule to beat the stoppage, most will arrive late.
Lotto Soudal's departure from Belgium's Zaventem airport was scheduled to land at 14:00, but will now land at 21:00, according to director Arne Houtekier. "Most riders would do some warming up," after arriving, Houtekier said to Sportwereld, "but now we arrive at 21:00, so it is much too late. In itself this is not a problem because we now won't leave until the late afternoon. The riders still have time in the morning to ride their bikes."
A second strike by Lufthansa pilots will also disrupt travel - the airline has cancelled half of its short and medium-haul flights for Friday.
Novo Nordisk makes WorldTour debut
The American Team Novo Nordisk will attempt its first WorldTour level event, one that will break down barriers of what the all-Type 1 diabetic team can physically withstand.
"Competing in our first World Tour race is the result of a tenacious and inspirational group of athletes, who are proving every day that they can race alongside the world’s best," said Team Novo Nordisk CEO Phil Southerland.
The team will be led by Javier Megias, who was seventh in the GP Lugano earlier this month. “We will give all of our support to Javier, who has been riding with incredible form, to keep him up front and protected," director Vasili Davidenko said. "Martijn has raced here before, and Andrea was on the podium at the junior version of the race, so we will look to them as leaders to support Javier or for a result."
"It’s going to be a long day, but our riders’ training program was redesigned and tailored to Milan-San Remo in order to prepare," Davidenko said. "I believe the first hour of the race will be one of the most important. We’ll see lots of breakaway attempts, which will reveal what teams will control the race and ride at the front.”
"Position is key at Milan-San Remo," Megias said. "If we want a chance, we need to be in the top 20 riders at the start of the final climbs. I’ve been training with a lot of motor pacing and longer sessions, so I feel ready for the 300km race."
Novo Nordisk for Milan-San Remo: Javier Megias, Joonas Henttala, Nicolas Lefrançois, David Lozano, Kevin De Mesmaeker, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet and Martijn Verschoor.
Rain predicted for Milan-San Remo
Milan-San Remo is likely to be raced on wet roads and under rain clouds with inclement weather forecasted for Northern Italy on Sunday. The forecasted weather in Milan is rain clearing and temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees with rain predicted in Genoa where the race meets the sea and makes the turn down the coast to San Remo. Rain is forecasted for the length of the coastline to the finishline in Via Roma.
The 2014 edition of the race was also a wet affair while the 2013 edition saw the peloton cover 60km of the race in team buses due to freezing weather conditions.
Tour Down Under a boost for South Australian government
Australia's sole WorldTour event, the Tour Down Under, has once again boosted the South Australian state economy with the announcement that close to AUS $50 million in revenue was raised from the 2015 edition of the race.
"The Tour Down Under is a fully-fledged sporting and tourism success story for the people of South Australia," said Tourism Minister Leon Bignell. "More than 37,000 visitors travelled from interstate and overseas for the Tour, which generated $47.9m in revenue for the state's economy, up $2m on last year, and 614 full time equivalent jobs."
This year was also the first that a women's event was held, the Santos Women's Tour, further enhancing crowd figures, economic impact and showcasing the race's ability to continually grow,
"We work hard each year to grow the event and add to the festival we have created around the race to ensure it remains appealing and attracts more spectators," Bignall added.
The 2016 edition of the Tour Down Under will be held between 16-24 January.