Froome extends with Team Sky - Tour de France news shorts

Defending Tour de France champion Chris Froome will stay with Team Sky through the 2020 season, the team confirmed today.

As first reported by Cyclingnews during the Critérium du Dauphiné, Froome had been rumoured to be in negotiations but said that he had no contact with BMC manager Jim Ochowicz and intended to remain with Team Sky. He said earlier this week that he was close to signing a contract.

The British rider has been with the team since its inception in 2010.

"It's been a really successful partnership and I think one of the big reasons for that is the stability of the team. As a rider that is really important as it means you can just get on with your job and focus on winning bike races," Froome said of the deal. "The Tour de France wins we have achieved together have been a big part of the team's history. Now I'm looking forward to being a big part of Team Sky's future."

No formal risk assessments for Tour de France finishes until 2018

The UCI recently rolled out a slew of safety enhancements for its rule book after more than a year of discussions with the riders' union (Cyclistes Professionnels Associés, CPA). The officials will continue a test of a new rule for assigning time gaps on sprint stages in the Tour de France, but the final kilometers of this year's Tour de France stages will not undergo the formal risk assessment that is required for WorldTour races from 2018 on, the UCI confirmed today.

The time gap rule, which was tested during the Tour de Suisse, extends the limit from one second or less between groups to three seconds for assigning riders the same time toward the general classification.

The aim is to make the final three kilometers of sprint stages safer, allowing riders fighting for the overall classification to sit up out of the way of the sprinters' lead-out trains without worrying about losing time.

The CPA and North American riders' union (ANAPRC) have been lobbying intensively for increased rider safety ever since a fixed post in the final kilometer of a 2015 Vuelta al Pais Vasco caused a horrific crash that nearly ended the careers of Peter Stetina and Sergio Pardilla.

Michael Carcaise, executive director of the ANAPRC, credited the progress with the creation of the Security and Technical Regulation Working Group, which was created by the UCI in 2016.

"In particular I'm pleased with the new rule for WorldTour races to conduct a formal risk assessment of the final kilometers. Like the Extreme Weather Protocol, this rule started with a CPA proposal," Carcaise told Cyclingnews. "UCI staff and leaders then steered the proposal through various commissions and built consensus among all stakeholders. The work to improve rider and race safety never ends, so the UCI and CPA must continue to collaborate and find solutions."

Both groups agree that the risk assessment is an important step to making the race finishes safer, but are wary of fully endorsing the three-second rule until they get more feedback from the riders.

CPA spokesperson Laura Mora said the rule addresses the desires of "many riders," but said "that certainly is not the will of the entire peloton. It was dictated principally by the need of increasing the security requirements during the races."

The CPA has already received some positive feedback following the test of the new rule in the Tour de Suisse, and hopes to further gauge the opinions of "a wider sample of riders".

"The working group continues its work to better prevent the safety risks during the races and the CPA will fight until all the instances promoted in our safety plan will be implemented."

The UCI has also introduced rules regarding the movement of vehicles in the race, and implemented the Extreme Weather Protocol.

Bardet, Naesen, Latour extend with AG2R through 2020

The AG2R La Mondiale team have tied three of their brightest talents down to new long-term contracts on the eve of the Tour de France, with Romain Bardet, Oliver Naesen, and Pierre Latour all set to stay until the end of 2020. 

The news was announced on Friday morning as the French team gathered for its pre-race press conference in Dusseldorf. 

Latour, the rising 23-year-old Frenchman, was the only one of the three out of contract at the end of this year, and securing his continued services will have been seen as a priority, even if he was never likely to leave for another team. 

Bardet and Naesen, meanwhile, were both on deals that were set to expire at the end of next year, and have therefore penned two-year extensions. 

Bardet is the team's leader and talisman, and a potential Tour de France winner in waiting. After finishing runner-up last July, it is clear the 26-year-old is still progressing and, having done so much to shape and bring on the team in the last few years, it's a no-brainer for him to extend his long-term commitment. 

Naesen was picked up from the folding IAM Cycling last winter and the Belgian has been a revelation this year, enjoying a breakthrough classics campaign before becoming champion of Belgium last weekend. His stock has risen remarkably, and AG2R have been bold in keeping him off the market. It represents an investment - an increased salary is a certainty and the signing of one or two more classics riders a probability - but one that looks set to bear fruit. 

Tour de France stage previews now on video

Cyclingnews has done extensive previews of the entire route of the Tour de France, walking you through each stage with maps and descriptions of the important features of the route.

Check out our YouTube play list that links together each and every preview in an easy to watch format. Each one is only a minute or two long. Enhance your knowledge of the Tour de France route, and don't forget to subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel.

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