Richard Plugge's WorldTour squad has secured a new title sponsor, with the Norwegian software company Visma signing up to support both Team Jumbo's cycling and speed skating programmes. The squad will race as Team Jumbo-Visma in 2019.
"Thanks to the fruitful cooperation and the development that we have gone together, Jumbo dared to support our vision for a long and indefinite period of time," Plugge said in a press release. "This has not gone unnoticed. It has created appeal within the sports world and also in the business world. The agreement with Visma is a result of this."
Grocery chain Jumbo signed on for a new five-year sponsorship deal this season as LottoNL's planned exit drew near. The addition of Visma not only gives the team further stability, it could ease the transition of Belgian 'cross star Wout Van Aert into the WorldTour team once his legal wrangles with Sniper Cycling are wrapped up.
"We believe this sponsorship will put the Visma brand on the European map and help Visma increase its presence and brand awareness in the Netherlands and throughout Europe," said Visma CEO Øystein Moan.
"Visma is expanding its activities in the Netherlands and recently acquired one of the leading Dutch providers of payroll and HR software, Raet. Cycling is also a popular sport in both current and potential markets, making the sponsorship a great fit for Visma."
Schurter beats Federer for Swiss Sports Personality of the Year
Mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter has finally won the Swiss Sports Personality of the Year award after 10 years in the running. Schurter, who had a perfect season in 2017, winning all of the MTB World Cups and the worlds, this season again claimed the overall World Cup with four victories and the world title.
"The most difficult victories are also the most beautiful. Receiving this award is a great honour for me," Schurter said at the presentation.
The award is given as the result of voting by the audience, and Schurter garnered a third of the votes.
Federer won the Australian Open, but lost in Wimbeldon in the final to Kevin Anderson. He plans to retire in 2019.
Nino Schurter salutes the crowd
Kozhatayev out of Astana due to cardiac issues
Kozhatayev had a "health incident" during training camp in September, and subsequently underwent in-depth tests with cardiologists.
While the issues are not life threatening, the team decided "after consultations with specialists cardiologists in sports and taking into account the recommendations of the Association of sports doctors" that his state of health "does not allow him to perform in professional races at the level of the UCI WorldTour".
"For all of us it is an absolutely unexpected situation," said General Manager Alexandr Vinokourov. "The decision we made was a tough one, but, first of all, it was done in favour of athlete's health, which always was and still is our main priority.
"It is very sad, as Kozhataev is a young and talented rider, however, we simply do not have the right to put in risk the health of the athlete. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev's contract ends at the end of this year, and we made a decision not to extend it. In any case, the team will support Bakhtiyar as much as possible in this difficult moment. On behalf of the whole team I want to thank Bakhtiyar for all the years spent in Astana and wish him, first of all, health and good luck."
Novo Nordisk add five new riders
Team Novo Nordisk completed their 16-man 2019 roster with five new riders for the all-diabetic squad. The team elevated trainees Oliver Behringer and Declan Irvine, and signed on new riders Peter Kusztor, Sam Munday and Ulugbek Saidov.
"Since our inception, we've set high standards for this program. To maintain this momentum, it is critical to move up this young generation of talented athletes with diabetes to the professional team," said Team Novo Nordisk Senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko.
"Our entire project is designed to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to succeed. We consciously blend our race rosters, so the neo-pros race alongside experienced veterans. This keeps motivation and morale high because the young riders are so eager to learn. Additionally, it provides all our riders with direction so they can continue to progress in a step-by-step manner."
Four of the riders come from the team's development programme, with Kusztor the only rider new to the organisation. Kusztor was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after breaking his collarbone at the Czech Cycling Tour this summer. Routine tests before surgery turned up elevated glucose values, and the 33-year-old was then diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease.
"We have big expectations in Kusztor and are proud to add him to our roster. I expect the entire project will be stronger in 2019," Davidenko said.
Team Novo Nordisk for 2019: Oliver Behringer, Mehdi Benhamouda, Sam Brand, Fabio Calabria, Stephen Clancy, Joonas Henttala, Declan Irvine, Brian Kamstra, Peter Kusztor, David Lozano, Emanuel Mini, Sam Munday, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet, Umberto Poli, Ulugbek Saidov.