'Wattmeister Challenge' winner to earn a ride with Katusha-Alpecin - News Shorts

Dimension Data sprint for Boasson Hagen in Portugal, Costa close in Oman, Lotto Soudal Ladies train in Spain

Katusha-Alpecin offer traineeship to 'Wattmeister Challenge' winner

WorldTour team Katusha-Alpecin has announced a partnership with Dutch cycling league 'Topcompetition' to create the Wattmeister Challenge. The winner of the 'Wattmeister Challenge', the rider who can record the highest watts per kilo on a home trainer, will earn an internship with Katusha-Alpecin from August 1 through to the end of 2017.

"We were immediately charmed by this initiative. It is original but also ground-breaking. The participants will be highly motivated to become a trainee/stagiaire in Team Katusha-Alpecin and, as the Wattmeister will be a rider of one of the 17 Topcompetion teams, we know that it will be a rider with experience. I really look forward to this initiative. In just two weeks we can see the first results. I am curious," said team manager José Azevedo who is keen to add another Dutch rider to his roster.

The creator of the Topcompeitiont, Flavio Pasquino, explained that the relationship with Katusha-Alpecin was facilitated by the team's bike sponsor Canyon and is equally intrigued by the competition.

"Bike Brand Canyon was the matchmaker. When I told them about the idea they were immediately excited to step in as a sponsor and also to contact the team management of Team Katusha-Alpecin," Pasquino said. "This is another recognition for our league and now even internationally. Initially we started the Topcompetition to stimulate the flow for semi-pros to turn professional. It works out well for two years in a row with winners Twan Castelijns, now riding for Team LottoNL - Jumbo, and Coen Vermeltfoort who went to Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij."

The Topcompetition consists of eight races for semi-professionals and is a potential pathway to turning professional. The overall winner of the Topcompetition will earn a contract with Dutch Pro-Continental team Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij.

Dimension Data sprint for Boasson Hagen with Cavendish leading out on Volta ao Algarve opener

Stage 1 of the Volta ao Algarve saw Mark Cavendish in the unfamiliar role of lead-out man with the Dimension Data rider turning domestique for Edvald Boasson Hagen. Cavendish, who came close to opening his 2017 account at the Dubai Tour, and Scott Thwaites were the two key men in the train for Boasson Hagen.

Cavendish took over from Thwaites in the finale, dropping off Boasson Hagen with 500 metres to go but the Norweigan champion was unable to capitalise and could only manage tenth place in the bunch sprint.

"We road in the front as a team for the last 20km and Mark leading Edvald out for the sprint but Edvald lost the wheel and from there he didn't have a clear path to sprint through," sports director Alex Vega said of the stage won by Fernando Gaviria. "It was an okay day today but tomorrow is more of a GC day so we hope by this time tomorrow we will be represented well on the GC."

Cavendish rolled over the line in 53rd place with stage 4 his and Dimension Data's next opportunity to chase a bunch sprint victory.

Tour of Oman: Rui Costa confirms condition with second place on road to Al Bustan

Having enjoyed his first victory in almost two years at the Vuelta a San Juan, Rui Costa proved his condition and re-found winning mentality as he finished second to Ben Hermans on stage 2 of the Tour of Oman.

While the BMC man was able to punch clear in the final metres of the challenging Al Bustan climb, the battle for second was far closer as Costa narrowly got the better of Astana's Jakob Fuglsang.

"The victory is always the main goal, however I'm satisfied with this second place: it demonstrates that my shape is good, even if it could be improved, and that the team can support me in an impressive way, " explained Costa. "Hermans today was the best, he was few meters ahead of me at the Kom and he succeded in defending this advantage, despite my attempts to bridge the gap."

While Costa was quick to raise his cap to Hermans for the winning move, the former world champion was even more effusive in his praise for his new UAE Abu Dhabi teammates.

"Congrats to Hermans, however the biggest congrats are for my team mates: they were precious in helping me in the approach to the final hill," said Costa who now sits second on GC. "It is important to have a strong harmony and today we demonstrated our team spirit: we recovered positions in the bunch with the perfect timing for being in the front of the peloton in the early meters of the climb. That's amazing!".

Rui Costa trying to close to the gap to stage 2 winner Ben Hermans (BMC) (Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Lotto Soudal Ladies train in Calpe

Belgian team Lotto Soudal Ladies recently convened in Calpe, Spain for an important early-season training camp. There are several new riders in the 2017 squad which has undergone significant changes over the off-season, farewelling seven riders from its 2016 team.

Annelies Dom, Kaat Van der Meulen, Lotte Kopecky, Puck Moonen, Trine Schmidt, Anna Kiesenhofer and Julie Roelandts are the new riders for 2017. The training camp was an important meeting for new teammates to become acquainted with each other, test new bikes and product and clock up the kilometres.

This coming weekend, Belgian trio Annelies Dom, Lotte Kopecky and Kaat Van der Meulen, and Frenchwomen Elise Delzenne will make their season debuts in the velodrome at the Cali Track World Cup. The following weekend, February 25-26, is when the team makes its road debut for the season as it lines out at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, and Omloop van het Hageland - Tielt-Winge on Sunday.

The 'opening weekend' kicks off the classics season which will be an important first goal of 2017 for the Lotto Soudal Ladies squad.

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