Under the UCI's new WorldTour rules, the events that have been added to the calendar this season are not mandatory for WorldTour teams. Three of the sport's top teams have used this exception to opt out of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, according to CyclingPro.net.
Dimension Data, Movistar and UAE Abu Dhabi have opted to skip the Belgian classic, leaving 15 WorldTour teams at the start. The door is open for 10 wild card teams to be selected.
Dwars door Vlaanderen, another new WorldTour race, will go ahead without Team Sky and Dimension Data. Last year the race had only 12 WorldTour teams. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, still a UCI 1.HC event, is expected to attract 14 WorldTour teams.
Aru undergoes sinus surgery
Fabio Aru (Astana) underwent a successful sinus surgery at the Clinica Villa Sant’Apollonia in Bergamo today.
The Italian Grand Tour contender was suffering from turbinate hypertrophy, an obstruction of the nasal passages. According to his team, the surgery took only 20 minutes and was performed by Prof. Antonino Cassisi.
Aru's surgery did not disrupt his plans to begin his season at the Tour of Oman on February 14 or disrupt his preparation for a season that includes the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España. Aru has twice been on the podium of his home Grand Tour and won the Vuelta in 2015.
According to his team, Aru put in a long training ride before the surgery and used his hospital stay as his rest day. He will resume training tomorrow.
Drake takes an early exit from British Cycling
British Cycling today announced that Ian Drake will step down as CEO with immediate effect. His departure had been planned for April.
"Ian has been in discussions with the board of British Cycling with a view to leaving his role as chief executive earlier than planned," a press release stated. "In recognition of the progress made, the board has agreed to allow Ian to step down with immediate effect. Ian has also stepped down as a member of the Sport England board."
Jamie Obank, the chief operating officer of British Cycling, will be in charge until a new CEO can be found.
British Cycling president Bob Howden said: "I would like to take this opportunity to recognise Ian’s tremendous work for British Cycling as chief executive over the last eight years. On behalf of the board I wish Ian every happiness in the future. Recruitment for a new chief executive is progressing well and I expect to be in a position to make a further announcement in the coming weeks."
Soul Brasil earns Volta a Catalunya wildcard
Currently serving a ban for having three doping cases in a 12-month period, the Soul Brasil (formerly Funvic Soul Cycles-Carrefour) squad has earned an invitation to the WorldTour event, the Volta a Catalunya, as a wildcard pick.
The Brazilian team was banned by the UCI after Colombian Ramiro Rincon, and Brazilians João Pereira, and Kleber Da Silva each tested positive for the blood booster CERA. It was, however, awarded a Pro Continental licence.
Volta a Catalunya wildcards: Caja Rural - Seguros RGA, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, Cofidis, Manzana Postobon Team, Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij, Soul Brasil Pro Cycling Team, and Wanty - Groupe Gobert