UAE Team Emirates confirmed its squad for the first WorldTour edition of the Presidential Tour of Turkey, set to begin on October 10 in Alanya. Diego Ulissi and Darwin Atapuma will lead the team with an eye on the uphill finish in Selçuc, the usual decisive stage of the event.
Simone Consonni, Marko Kump, Vegard Stake Laengen, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Edward Ravasi and Federico Zurlo round out the squad.
"The Tour of Turkey has always been a hard-fought race and this year it became a World Tour event, so there will definitely be a higher level of competition," team director Bruno Vicino said. "The fourth stage with an uphill arrival in Selçuc will be critical for the general classification, but we shouldn't underestimate the fifth stage with arrival in Izmir: Atapuma and Ulissi, with some support from Ravasi and Niemiec, could grab the spotlight here.
"In the stages with a simpler profile, we will give Consonni and Kump some room, with Laengen and Zurlo ready to jump on any chance to break away."
Ulissi, the winner of the GP de Montreal, has racked up a string of top results in the late season, coming second in the Memorial Marco Pantani, and fourth in the Coppa Sabatini and Tre Valli Varesine.
"I'll be participating in the Tour of Turkey for the second time in my career; I've only ridden in the 2010 edition," Ulissi said. "I'm glad to be returning to Turkey, especially to mark the race becoming a part of the World Tour circuit. I'm in good form in this end of season; I hope this will help me be competitive in the more demanding stages."
UAE Team Emirates is one of four WorldTour teams in the Presidential Tour of Turkey, along with Bora-Hansgrohe, Trek-Segafredo and Astana. Eight Pro Continental teams and the Turkish National Team complete the roster for the event.
UAE Team Emirates for the Presidential Tour of Turkey: Darwin Atapuma, Simone Consonni, Marko Kump, Vegard Stake Laengen, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Edward Ravasi, Diego Ulissi, and Federico Zurlo.
Yannis Yssaad signs with Caja Rural - Seguros RGA
The 24-year-old has won several races at the 1.2 and 2.2 level including Paris-Troyes, stages of the An Post Rás, Ronde de l'Oise and the GP Internacional Torres Vedras.
"My goal was to evolve to a high level and that is what Caja Rural-Seguros RGA have given me the chance to be able to do," said Yssaad. "I'm really happy to be able to join the team. Everything will be new to me, I always raced in a French team but I don't care. I immediately had a good feeling with the manager, Juan Manuel Hernandez, and that is the main reason why I joined the team. We have a common goal that is to win races.
"I am always helpful, I always give 100% to my teammates or myself. I like all the races but what I like most are the sprint finishes and especially when it's slightly uphill. It is a beautiful team with a beautiful race calendar and I intend to honor the jersey for next season."
The Caja Rural-Seguros RGA team also announced contract extensions with Lluis Mas and Fabricio Ferrari.
Astana sign 21-year-old Astana sign Yevgeniy Gidich
Astana has confirmed the arrival of 21-year-old Yevgeniy Gidich from the 2018 season. Gidich has ridden with Astana as a stagiaire since August 1. The Kazakh has been with the Astana affiliated Vino 4ever team since the 2014 season, winning stages of the 2.HC Tour of Qinghai Lake and in 2017, GC victory at the 2.1 Tour of Thailand.
"I am very happy to sign my first professional contract with Astana Team. I was dreaming about it, I was aspiring to this and now my dream comes true! I am so happy! I will do my best to help the team to reach the highest possible results and to justify team’s hopes," Gidich said.
Astana general manager Alexandr Vinokurov explained that Gidich's season and performances with the team at Brussels Cycling Classic, GP de Fourmies, Tour of Denmark confirmed his promising talent.
"Yevgeniy is a young and ambitious rider with a huge potential. This year he scored a number of really strong results, proving he is ready for the next step into a higher level," Vinokurov said. "Despite he is a sprinter, Yevgeniy feels quite good on the climbs and he showed it a few days ago at the Tour of Almaty, where he entered the final Top-10. Besides, he left some great impressions after his races as a trainee in our team. His first contract with Astana will be for the next two seasons. We hope, in a few years he will be able to compete with the strongest sprinters around the world."
Kent-Spark aiming to add to 2014 Melbourne to Warrnambool success
Despite a broken collarbone hindering his preparation for the Melbourne to Warrnambool, 2014 winner Oliver Kent-Spark knows what it takes to win Australia's oldest one-day race. The Drapac-Pat's Veg rider broke his collarbone in July and has only been back on the bike for three weeks ahead of Saturday's 277km race.
"It is a vastly different preparation to 2014 when I enjoyed a magical period after training every day with everything going my way," said Kent-Spark. "Fortunately, I have residual fitness from before the crash. I'm completely over the injury now - for a bit I couldn't get out of the saddle of the bike without pain - and despite the hampered preparation I believe I can be competitive again in this great race."
The 24-year-old rode with the An Post team in 2016, enjoying a European programme and again returned to Europe this season with his new Drapac-Pat's Veg team. With the European block of racing in his legs, Kent-Spark is hoping his previous experience will ensure he doesn't make any early mistakes and waste energy.
"This is a really difficult and different type of race. You much be intelligent during the race. If you get too excited too early you pay for it at the finish," he said. "One minute you can be cruising along and suddenly you hit a cross-breeze, or an unexpected breakaway takes place. The dynamics of this race can change with the blink of an eye."
The Melbourne to Warrnambool was first held in 1895 and has been won by the likes of Simon Gerrans. The race is part of the National Road Series (NRS) but also attracts an international field. Trek-Segafredo's Koen de Kort is one WorldTour rider lining out for the race which celebrates its 102nd edition in 2017.