Russian President Putin questions TUE system - News shorts

Cavendish, Nibali, Contador headline Abu Dhabi start list; Bialoblocki joins CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 2017; Canola and Marangoni join Nippo Vini Fantini

Russian President Putin questions TUE system

Speaking at a sports forum in his country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that therapeutic use exemptions for banned substances provide some athletes with an unfair advantage, adding that athletes who use them should be barred from competition.

The Associated Press reported this week that Putin suggested putting restrictions on athletes with TUEs, which are granted to athletes with medical conditions. TUEs have been in the news since a group called Fancy Bears began leaking World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) documents that detailed TUEs granted to many athletes, including Tour de France winners Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

"We need to understand what to do about (TUEs), otherwise we could soon face all records and victories going only to people who are ill with, let's say, chronic illnesses," Putin said, according to the Associated Press.

"Maybe they can be put in a special category, or their achievements, points, seconds and honors can be considered in a special way," Putin said.

US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart said Putin's statements were "laughable."

"It either shows a clear misunderstanding of the rules, or it's another attempt to smear innocent athletes in response to the uncovering of Russia’s state-sponsored doping system that gave athletes a tremendous performance advantage and corrupted the Sochi Olympic Games," Tygart said, according to the Associated Press.

WADA barred many Russian athletes from the Rio Olympic Games, including the entire weightlifting team and all but one track and field athlete. The Fancy Bears group obtained the confidential athlete information from WADA's online system used for the Rio Olympics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Russian Olympic team in July.

Cavendish, Nibali, Contador headline Abu Dhabi start list

In just its second year on the UCI calendar, the Abu Dhabi Tour has attracted a star-studded line up, including Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

The four-day 2.1 race, which takes place October 20-23 in the United Arab Emirates, clearly benefited from its place on the calendar after the UCI Road World Championships, which take place in nearby Qatar.

Other riders on the start list include John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin), Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange), André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Bradley Wiggins (WIGGINS).

Cavendish will ride the Abu Dhabi Tour, which will be a WorldTour race in 2017, for the first time this year after a shoulder injury kept him out of competition for the inaugural race in 2015. The route should suit the Manxman, as it has just one summit finish and three pancake-flat sprint stages. The third stage features 135km of flat riding before the peloton tackles the climb to Jabel Hafeet at 1,025 metres of elevation.

Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) won the general classification last year ahead of Fabio Aru (Astana) and Wout Poels (Team Sky).

The Abu Dhabi peloton in action at the Yas Marina Formula One track.

Bialoblocki joins CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 2017

Marcin Bialoblocki has signed a one-year contract to race with CCC Sprandi Polkowice in 2017. The Polish rider will be expected to add to the team with his strength in the time trial.

"Marcin will be very valuable addition to our team," read the team's press release about signing the rider. "We are hoping that he will not only deliver some good results in races against the clock, but will also share his great experience and knowledge with our young riders. He knows exactly how to train, how to prepare and warm up before the time trial and knows how every detail is important."

After taking time off early on during his cycling career to work in Great Britain, Bialoblocki returned to the sport in 2011 and has raced for a series of Continental teams before moving to the Pro Continental team One Pro Cycling in 2015 and 2016.

He won the Polish time trial title last year and won a stage at the Tour of Poland, and was second in the national time trial championships this year. He placed 14th in the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships on Wednesday.

"I've had a chance to work with Marcin on couple of occasions in the National Team. He is an interesting person, who experienced the real life, outside of sport. He developed outstanding work ethic during those few years spent in Great Britain, working normal jobs. We hope that he will pass along his approach to the rest of the team."

Marcin Bialoblocki (Poland) crosses the line in ninth

Canola and Marangoni join Nippo Vini Fantini

Nippo Vini Fantini announced signing two new riders to their 2017 roster. Marco Canola joins the team from UnitedHealthcare and Alan Marangoni from Cannondale-Drapac.

Canola has experience racing in the Grand Tours and won a stage of the Giro d'Italia in 2014, while Marangoni spent seven seasons racing on the WorldTour with versions of the Cannondale outfit and has been on the podium at both the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana.

General manager Francesco Pelosi said in a team press release that both riders will add to the team's strength in 2017.

"Marco Canola is a winning rider. He is 27 years old and he his looking for his final improvement. He is strongly motivated to win. He is a modern rider, good both for fast short climbs and for sprints. We will reach good results together.

"Alan Marangoni is a pillar for our growth, an important rider for our group, a great 'Team-worker,' that will be helpful for the leaders, but also to teach to young riders, 'how to ride in group.' He will be the teacher of the young Japanese talents that have to learn a lot about cycling from a such expert rider."

Alan Marangoni (Cannondale) on the front

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