News shorts: Van Avermaet wins Kristallen Fiets

Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo and Australian NRS transfers

First Kristallen Fiets award for Van Avermeat

BMC's Greg Van Avermaet was awarded the Kristallen Fiets (Crystal Bike) award for best Belgian cyclist today. It was the second such award for Van Avermaet this autumn: he was awarded the Flandrien in the Het Nieuwsblad poll last month. Today's award comes from rival publication Het Laatste Nieuws.

Van Avermaet beat out teammate Philippe Gilbert for the Kristallen Fiets, with Lotto-Belisol's Tim Wellens in third. The votes came from cycling journalists and other cycling celebrities.

Dylan Teuns was given the award for best young rider, Walter Planckaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) the trophy for best team director, and Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) won best domestique.

A tough Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo

A challenging route for next year's Giro d'Italia Grand Fondo has been announced. The amateur event, which takes place on May 17, will tackle the 175-kilometre Queen stage of the professional race.

Beginning in Pinzolo the road heads skywards immediately and features five classified climbs. The first passage of the finish line comes at 102 kilometres and marks the end of the 'medio' route. Anyone feeling brave enough can forge on and complete a loop that includes the formidable Mortirolo. To finish, riders must take on the Aprica climb for the second time that day.

The professional riders will follow the same path nine days after the amateurs, on May 26, as they enter the final week of the three-week race. Registration for the Gran Fondo opens in December.

Taryn Heather joins Bicycle Superstore

Australian cyclist Taryn Heather will ride for the National Road Series (NRS) team Bicycle Superstore in 2015 having spent this season with Bigla women's team racing in Europe. 

"Having spent the past four years racing in Europe, I am really excited about being back home, being closer to family and friends and being able to race on home soil again," said Taryn. "I am looking forward to racing domestically and seeing how the NRS has changed and developed over the past few years."

The team have also announced the current Australian national time trial champion Flick Wardlaw has been retained for next season.

"I hope I can play a role with helping my team mates and fellow NRS competitors realise that there are opportunities out there, you just have to work hard for them and most importantly really enjoy it along the way," Wardlaw said.

Jennelle Crooks signs for Specialized Securitor

Australian U23 time trial champion Jenelle Crooks will ride for the Specialized Securitor women's team in 2015 with her focus on the NRS overall standings. The 20-year-old rode for the Holden Women's Cycling Team this season alongside overall NRS champion Ruth Corset which was an important learning experience for Crooks who be one of the teams GC riders next season.

"Stepping into a leadership role at Specialized Securitor, with a really strong, professional team is going to be a new challenge but one I'm looking forward to," Crooks said.

"I'm super excited about getting to know the team and getting stuck into the racing, which for me will kick off at the Cycling Australia Road National Championships, in January."

Crooks made her European racing debut this year with appearances at Thuringen Rundfahrt, where she finished second on the young rider classification, and the inaugural La Course by the Tour de France on the Champs-Élysées with the Australian national team.

The arrival of Crooks a confirms an eight rider roster for 2015 and signalls a change in approach to racing as team manager Liz Phillipou explained.

"Jenelle is one of the best up and coming young talents in Australia and I feel she will be the perfect addition to our already strong 2015 team" Phillipou said. "In past years we have been heavily focused on the Summer Criterium Season but now in our fouth year I feel we finally have a well rounded team to be serious contenders in the NRS as well."

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