Trek-Segafredo announces Tour of California roster - News shorts

Cycling Academy and Synergy Baku shine in Azerbaijan, Rally names California team, Hecht makes Redlands splash

Trek-Segafredo names California team

Trek-Segafredo has named the eight riders who will compete May 14-21 in the Amgen Tour of California, with US champion Greg Daniel leading the way and sprint ace John Degenkolb looking to add a California stage win or two to his palmares.

Peter Stetina, a California resident who carried the general classification banner for the team last year, is competing this year at the Giro d’Italia and will miss the inaugural WorldTour race in California, so overall responsibilities will likely fall to veteran Spaniard Haimar Zubeldia.

Degenkolb will be able to rely on seasoned lead out man Koen de Kort for the sprints, while fast finishers Kiel Reijnen and Ruben Guerreiro have plenty of experience racing in the States. Marco Coledan and Markel Irizar fill out the Trek roster.

Trek-Segafredo for Amgen Tour of California 2017: Marco Coledan, Greg Daniel, John Degenkolb, Koen de Kort, Ruben Guerreiro, Markel Irizar, Kiel Reijnen, Haimar Zubeldia

Cycling Academy has breakout week in Azerbaijan

The Israel Cycling Academy posted its best-ever spell as a Pro Continental team last week at the Tour of Azerbaijan, where the team scored two stage wins and multiple podium finishes.

Mihkel Raim started things off the for team with a win on the opening day, sprinting into the first leader's jersey. Raim lost the lead the next day, but teammate Dennis van Winden was able to earn a podium result with third. Raim was second the following day, and then Krists Neilands added a second stage win of the week with a daring solo effort move on the final day.

Neilands jumped away from the bunch with 20km to go and was able to hold on for the win by 21 seconds over the field.

"It was an exciting instinct really," said the 22-year-old Latvian. "I really did not think it would work…and when it happened and I went, I was still thinking that I may still need to help Mihkel in that sprint.

"I really did not think I could hold them off the last 200 meters," Neilands said. "It was my greatest win."

On the same day that Neilands was scoring the team's second win of 2017, another squad at the GP Lugano was coming up just short of the podium. Daniel Turek was in an all-day breakaway and finished just two seconds shy of third.

Rally Cycling names Tour of California team

Tour of the Gila winner Evan Huffman will lead the Rally Cycling team into the Amgen Tour of California when the seven-day WorldTour race rolls out of Sacramento on Sunday.

The winner of last year’s mountains jersey will be targeting the general classification this year, with a special focus on the stage 6 time trial at Big Bear Lake.

“I'm very excited to be racing my second Tour of California with Rally Cycling,” Huffman said. “I’m happy with my second place stage result and King of the Mountains classification win from last year, and I have ambitions to achieve more in 2017.”

Huffman finished second during stage 2 last year after being in a long breakaway with Ben King, who rides for Dimension Data this year.

"I feel confident in my fitness after winning the general classification at Tour of the Gila, especially on the time trial bike," Huffman said. "I am focused on the stage 6 time trial for a high stage finish and look to move up in the general classification there."

Joining Huffman on the Rally roster will be Rob Britton (10th overall in 2015), Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos (second during stage 5 last year), Sepp Kuss, Danny Pate, Colin Joyce and sprinter Eric Young.

Rally Cycling for Amgen Tour of California 2017: Rob Britton, Matteo Dal-Cin, Adam de Vos, Evan Huffman, Sepp Kuss, Colin Joyce, Danny Pate, Eric Young

Hecht makes Redlands splash with stage win, sprint jersey

Aevolo development team's Gage Hecht earned the team's biggest win to date Saturday at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, seizing victory from a breakaway in the downtown criterium and then holding onto the sprint jersey he earned there through the race's final stage. 

"I hadn't really aimed to go for the sprint jersey before the race, but after receiving it, I definitely wanted to retain it," Hecht said/ "[Aevolo director Mike] Creed and I sat down and talked about what defending it would take while I waited in the USADA area for a doping control.

"I'm still having a hard time comprehending what I did," Hecht said. "This sort of thing is something I had dreamed of as a junior watching races like this one. It's hard to believe that I was able to not only be competitive, but to win my first year in the U23 category. Mike took us out for pizza and yogurt to celebrate. I think after a hard stage race like Redlands, that's about the most I could have done with the energy I had left."

With three races now under the first-year team's belt, Creed expressed optimism for the upcoming races.

"We still have work to do, but we knew that," Creed said. "And in every race that we did, we saw that the gap is getting shorter." 

Pozdnyakov wins for Azerbaijan

Kirill Pozdnyakov won the overall title at the Tour d’Azerbaidjan – the first time an Azeri has won the race, and the first time the home team, Synergy Baku Cycling Project, has claimed that title.

Pozdnyakov took on Azeri citizenship this year, with an eye towards representing the land in international events. He won stage two of the Tour in a solo effort to take the race lead, and held on to the lead until the end.

“This win was very special for me, it's my home race and my family came to support me,” he told Cyclingnews. “This made unforgettable emotions for me when I crossed the line in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

“It was very important to win the Tour d’Azerbaidjan for our team and being an Azeri rider is a great honour. Sooner or later an Azeri rider would win this race and I'm lucky I'm the first one. I started my career with this team and since I joined this project I have only had positive emotions and been supported all the time.

“Azerbaijan gave me the opportunity to be represent them in the World Championships and maybe the Olympic Games in the future. I will do all I can to confirm their belief in me."

Pozdnyakov started his pro career with Synergy Baku in 2013, and rode for RusVelo for two years before returning to the Azeri team in 2015. This season he also won two stages at the Tour of Morocco, finishing third overall.

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