News shorts: Two mountaintop finishes on tap for Tour de San Luis

Craven signs with Cycling Academy, Bos on the track, Olympia's Tour goes U23

Tour de San Luis organizers highlighted details of the parcours for their UCI 2.1 race held from January 18-24 in Argentina. The main attractions for the 10th annual event will be an opening team time trial and two summit finishes to Cerro El Amago and Filo Sierras Comechingones.

Organisers released the host cities in September, and released the roster of 27 teams Friday that included big-name climbers like Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) and defending champion Dani Diaz (Delko Marseille), who will all be looking forward to testing their form on the climbs.

The first mountaintop finish will cap off stage 4 from San Luis to Cerro El Amago, a 140-kilometre relatively flat stage until it reaches the final 20 kilometres. The climb to Alto del Amago will include two KOMs for points; the first a category 3 ascent at the 128km to go, with the climb getting steeper toward the category 1 summit finish.

The second mountaintop finish will be held two days later on stage 6, a 159.5km race from La Toma, through Merlo to the summit of Filo Sierras Comechingones. The terrain is undulating until the final ascent, which will feature three KOMs. The first is a category 3 near the base of the climb at 146.4km, the second is a category 1 half way up at 152km and the third in a category 1 at the summit finish line.

Despite the two summit finishes, however, Giovanni Lombardi, who is responsible for hiring the riders and teams for the race, noted that the quality field will face a thrilling route, but less difficult than the previous years.

The seven-day race will kick off with a newly introduced 20km team time trial during stage 1 in El Durazno. A stomping ground for teams like Etixx-QuickStep and Movistar.

The next two stages will cater to fast men like world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), and Tom Boonen and Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-QuickStep), and aggressive riders like Andrew Talansky (Garmin) and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r). Stage 2’s 181.9km flat race from San Luis to Villa Mercedes will likely be a sprint and stage 3’s 131km undulating race from Potrero de los Funes to La Punta, which includes two category 3 climbs and category 2 climb over El Mirador del Potrero, could be a good day for a small group or breakaway.

Stage 5’s rather lumpy 168.6km course from Renca to Juana Koslay could also be a day for the sprinters. And the event will conclude with stage 7’s 119.6km race held on the traditional, sprint-friendly San Luis circuits.

The Tour de San Luis peloton amidst some remote, mountainous terrain during stage 3.

Craven signs with Cycling Academy

The Cycling Academy team announced the signing of Dan Craven, the charismatic Namibian champion who spent the past two seasons with the Europcar squad. Craven, 32, will assume a leadership role in the ambitious Continental team, the first professional team from Israel.

"Dan will be by far the oldest rider in a very young roster," said the team's new directeur sportif Nicki Sorensen. "He will bring us his vast experience and knowledge of what is needed to be a successful rider. He knows how to take his opportunities in races and how to support the team on the road with both strong riding and decision making."

The bearded, long-haired Craven has helped to pave the way in Europe for African riders, starting his cycling career in Switzerland in 2005. He signed with his first pro team, Rapha Condor in 2009 after proving himself with several UCI 1.2 race podiums and the African Continental Championship title. With the team, he was third overall in the FBD Insurance Ras and won stages in the Tour of Rwanda and Vuelta a Leon. After a year with Synergy Baku in 2013, he was picked up mid-season in 2014 with Europcar after winning the Tour de Cameroun with Bike Aid - Ride for Help. He completed the Vuelta a Espana last year and won his national championship this season.

Craven is excited about the prospect of helping to build the team. "I quickly became a fan of this Team when I learned about its refreshing, creative approaches and its ambitious long-term goals," he said. "I am excited to be part of a team where I can have a leading role with the great group of people we have." In addition to helping the developing riders, he is keeping some of his own ambitions. "I feel that I still have a lot to give as a rider and a lot to prove."

The announcement comes on the heels of that of the team signing Canadian Guillaume Boivin, also to a two-year contract, plus Israeli riders Guy Gabay, Max Korus and Guy Sagiv.

The team will compete in several major African races in addition to events in Europe and North America with the aim of expanding the project sufficiently to contest a Grand Tour in 2018.

Dan Craven (Europcar)

Theo Bos resumes on the track

Dutch rider Theo Bos will make a return to competition at the International Belgian Meeting in Gent, Belgium next week. The MTN-Qhubeka rider crashed last month in the Abu Dhabi Tour and suffered a good deal of road rash.

Bos was a former superstar of track racing before converting to the road in 2009. Since then he has only done a rare track race.

Theo Bos (Ned) will be amongst the other World Champs in Sydney
Theo Bos in 2006 as sprint world champion

Olympia's Tour goes U23

The Dutch stage race Olympia's Tour has decided to move its event from May to September and change from an elite 2.2 stage race to a U23 event. It will be held from September 27 to October 2.

The event enjoyed its 63rd edition this year, but had to scramble to keep the event going. 3M stepped in to rescue the event, and will continue as a sponsor but the organisers are looking for additional support for 2016.

Race director Thijs Rondhuis hopes that by moving onto the U23 calendar, the race will provide specific preparation to the younger riders for the World Championships in Qatar, which begin on October 9.

Last year the focus was on preserving the race, now we want to Olympia's Tour give a clearly defined future," Ronduis said. "May was simply too busy and every time it was an enormous challenge to bring together a strong field. By selecting a date to two weeks before the World Championships, we hope to be an attractive preparation race for the U23s at the world championships. Several countries have indicated the need for such a final test for their espoirs, so we hope the best up-and-coming talents of the world will be at the start to contest our event."

Fans believe in Vos

After Rabo-Liv announced that Marianne Vos had been given the green light to resume training after a season of injury and overtraining, we asked the fans if they felt that Vos could regain her previous form in our daily Twitter poll.

62 percent of you think she will make it back to the top.

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