Bjarne Riis to reveal details of his 2017 Continental team
Bjarne Riis is expected to reveal the line-up of his 2017 Continental team at a press conference in Copenhagen on Thursday as he continues his gradual return to the sport.
Riis sold his WorldTour team to Oleg Tinkov in 2014 and then quit as team manager a few months later after a series of disputes with the Russian businessman. Riis has since teamed up with Danish businessman and former Saxo Bank CEO Lars Seier Christensen and hired Michael Rogers as they work to develop several cycling-related businesses. Riis had hoped to return quickly to the sport at WorldTour level but has so far failed to find the funding for a major team.
Riis is expected to reveal more about Team Virtu Pro-Velo Concept on Thursday, with Danish media suggesting he could have bought control of the team for 2017. He and Lars Seier Christensen invested in the team before this year’s Tour of Denmark, where Mads Würtz Schmidt won the time trial stage. The talented Dane has joined Katusha-Alpecin for 2017 but Riis seems to have secured several young Danish riders for the 2017 line-up. Michael Skelde, who worked with the Team Cult squad, is expected to be announced as directeur sportif.
LottoNL-Jumbo to again ride Bianchi in 2017
The LottoNL-Jumbo WorldTour team has confirmed it will again ride Bianchi bikes in 2017.
The Dutch team has worked with the Italian brand since 2014 and had its best season in 2016. Steven Kruijswijk wore the Giro d’Italia leader's pink jersey for five days and eventually finished fourth overall and Primoz Roglic won the Chianti time trial stage in the same race, while Robert Gesink won the queen stage of the Vuelta a Espana and Dylan Groenewegen claimed eleven victories, including the Dutch Road National title, as he emerged as one of the fastest sprinters in the peloton.
The LottoNL-Jumbo team will again use the Oltre XR4, Specialissima, Infinito CV and TT Aquila CV models from the Bianchi Countervail range of bikes. Kruijswijk used the Specialissima climber’s bike at the Giro, while Gesink won at the Vuelta riding a Oltre XR4.
"In recent years, we've had a strategic cooperation with Bianchi and the team, especially in the time trials," said General Manager Richard Plugge. "This resulted in two national titles in the time trial, a victory in the Giro and a fifth place in the team time trial at the World Championships. We can now structurally compete for top positions in the time trials."
Gijs Van Hoecke signs for LottoNL-Jumbo
Belgian Gijs Van Hoecke will move from Pro-Continental team Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise to LottoNL-Jumbo from the 2017 season, following in the steps of current teammate Floris De Tier at the WorldTour squad.
"I'm already looking forward to starting with team LottoNL-Jumbo and preparing for 2017. Their way of racing suits me so I'm glad I'm going to ride for this WorldTour team," Van Hoecke said. "I heard good things from the riders who made the same step. The team works on small details in terms of material, food and time trials. In these areas, I can certainly improve."
Van Hoecke, who started his career on the track, enjoyed several top-ten results across the season with sixth place overall at the Tour of Denmark a standout. With LottoNL-Jumbo, Van Hoecke will be solely focused on the road with the team looking forward to his addition as a versatile rider.
"Van Hoecke turned professional at a young age," Technical Director Nico Verhoeven said. "First, he combined track cycling with the road. In recent years, he focused entirely on the road. We want to take the next step with him in his career. This year, Van Hoecke showed that he could compete in the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. We want to use Van Hoecke in a supporting role in the Classics. He can also help power the sprint train."
LottoNL-Jumbo have also signed Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar), Lars Boom (Astana), Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot Oranje Peloton), Jurgen Van den Broeck (Katusha), Floris De Tier (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Stef Clement (IAM Cycling), and Daan Oliver for the 2017 season.
Yauheni Hutarovich set to retire
Belarusian Yauheni Hutarovich has all but given up on continuing his professional cycling career into 2017, telling sportpanorama he turned down an unsatisfying contract from Fortuneo - Vital Concept and hasn't found a new team.
"I believe that the season probably marks the end of my sporting career, unfortunately. The contract with Fortuneo is over and I am not satisfied with the conditions that I have been proposed. In all probability, it is time to end my career," Hutarovich said.
Hutarovich joined the Pro-Continental team in 2015 following several seasons with AG2R-La Mondiale and five years with FDJ.
During his career, the 32-year-old won almost 30 races, with a stage at the Vuelta a Espana in 2010 his best victory. Hutarovich also won stages of the Tour de Pologne, Vuelta a Burgos and La Tropicale Amissa Bongo among several others and won the national road title on four occasions.
Having based himself in Cannes, France, he added that regardless of what happens in 2017 he will be moving back to Belarus.
"We still do not know what I'll do. I have some ideas, but I have to look at the situation. I will certainly return to Belarus where my daughters go to school," he added.