Zakarin heads Russian Olympic team - News shorts

BMC re-signs Brent Bookwalter; Tour of Poland asks UCI to conduct special driver training session; Six national titles for Synergy Baku

Zakarin heads up Russian road team for Olympic Games in Rio

The Russian Cycling Federation announced today that the three riders who will represent the country in the road race at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero are Ilnur Zakarin, Sergei Chernetskiy and Pavel Kochetkov, all of Katusha.

The hilly road race circuit in Rio favours climbers, and Zakarin is one of the best in his country when the road tilts uphill. He won the La Madone d'Utelle stage in Paris-Nice this season, and finished first on the stage to Morgis in the Tour de Romandie but was relegated to second behind Nairo Quintana for irregular sprinting. In 2015, Zakarin won a stage in the Giro d'Italia, but this year he was chasing the overall classification when he crashed on a descent and fractured his collarbone.

Kochetkov is the new Russian road race champion, while Chernetskiy won the time trial championship.

The women will be represented only by London double bronze medalist Olga Zabelinskaya, who returned to the sport after a ban for doping. Zabelinskaya tested positive for octopamine in 2014, but denied any wrongdoing. The Russian Federation cleared her of the case in 2015, then was forced to settle with the UCI when it took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to push a two-year ban forward. She accepted an 18-month suspension that ended in September, 2015, opening the door for her to compete in Rio.

Ilnur Zakarin celebrates as Nairo Quintana protests at the end of stage 2 during the Tour de Romandie.

BMC extends contract with Brent Bookwalter

Brent Bookwalter will return for the 2017 season with BMC Racing. The team announced it has re-signed the 32-year-old American for at least one more year. BMC does not comment on the length of rider contracts.

Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the new deal means Bookwalter will join Danilo Wyss as the two most veteran BMC riders.

"Brent has been part of the BMC Racing Team family for a long time, and we have seen his career go from strength to strength during this time," Ochowicz said. "Particularly in the last few years, Brent has enjoyed some fantastic results, and given the long-standing partnership between Brent and BMC Racing Team we didn't hesitate to extend his contract."

In his 10 years with BMC, Bookwalter has seen the team move from the Pro Continental ranks to the WorldTour, and he's notched two wins along the way, taking s stage at the Tour of Oman in 2013 and at the USA pro Challenge last year. Bookwalter finished second overall at the USA Pro Challenge last year and was also third at the Tour of Utah. he was fourth overall at the 2015 Tour of Austria. So far this season, Bookwalter was fourth in the Volta a Andalucia time trial and finished eighth overall there. He was third overall behind Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) and BMC teammate Rohan Dennis at the Tour of California in May.

Bookwalter said it has been special to see his career grow at the same time as BMC Racing Team.

"Over the past nine years I have felt that a really good relationship between BMC Racing Team and myself has developed," he said. "We have both come a long way since then. Back in 2008 the team was in a totally different place than it is now and I was a much younger, less experienced, different rider too. So it's been rewarding to have that continuity, to really grow and develop together.

"We've been fortunate enough to experience a lot of success and good memories along the way. At this point in my career, BMC Racing Team feels like a family and it feels like home. I couldn't imagine walking out to ride in the morning and not putting my leg over a BMC bike."

Brent Bookwalter (BMC) gets aero

Six national titles for Synergy Baku

The Synergy Baku Cycling Project may be a small team but it can boast of six national titles won in the last few days. The tally includes two road race titles, three time trials and one U23 road title.

Ioannis Tamouridis, who is Olympic-bound, did the double for Greece, taking both titles there. It was the eighth national time trial title and fifth road title for the 36-year-old.

As expected, the team’s riders dominated the homeland Azerbaijan championships. Maksym Averin won the road title ahead of teammates Samir Jabrayilov and Elchin Asadov, with Synergy Baku riders taking the top six places. Averin, who will represent the country in the Rio Olympics, soloed in for the victory with a nearly 12-minute gap over the next finishers.

Asadov took the Azerbaijan time trial title, with Averin and Jabrayilov filling out the podium. Matija Kvasina won the Croatian time trial championship and Josip Rumac finished second in the Croatian road race to win the U23 title.

"We have a very strong and successful squad this year, and these results reflect that," team manager David McQuaid told Cyclingnews. "We expected good finishes by riders like Max Averin and Ioannis Tamouridis, but what makes me really happy was how our young riders did. Ismail Iliasov missed the podium in Azerbaijan by only two seconds, and Josip Rumac only narrowly missed the Elite road title in Croatia."

Ioannis Tamouridis and Max Averin

Tour of Poland asks UCI to conduct special driver training session

Concerned about the growing number of vehicle-involved crashes int he professional peloton, the Tour of Poland requested that the UCI conduct a special session of its training courses for anyone trying to obtain a "UCI Driver’s Certificate." The result is the first-ever such class in Poland. The event will take place on July 11, the day before the start of the race.

"We are very pleased that the UCI accepted our invitation to organize a class in association with the Tour de Pologne as well," said Tour of Poland General Manager Czeslaw Lang. "It will be the first time in Poland that we’ve seen a course of this level and, considering the consistently expanding development of the Tour de Pologne and our national cycling movement overall, I think it is going to be very useful.

"As organizers we believe that one of the most important aspects to consider and ensure during the race is the safety of our riders, who are the stars of this great cycling spectacle. For our part we’ve always done everything possible to guarantee the highest safety standards in the pack and along the route. I think it has become essential to join forces with all the elements of cycling to raise awareness, instruct and especially qualify anyone, whether a member of the media or other staff, who has the delicate role of driving a vehicle within the parameters of a race."

The 2016 Tour of Poland is scheduled for July 12-18.

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