Fernando Gaviria will make his long awaited return to racing Saturday at the UCI 1.1 Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde in West Flanders with his Quick-Step Floors team. Gaviria hasn't raced since the Hammer Series in June with a training accident that injured his calf putting him out of action.
The Colombian had a breakout Giro d'Italia in May as he won four stages and the points classification. His success in Italy followed on from stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, Volta ao Algarve and the Vuelta de San Juan. Gaviria has been named in Colombia's Worlds team for next month's race in Bergen and will use the Omloop Mandel-Leie-Schelde Meulebeke to build his race condition in anticipation.
A young team accompanies Gaviria to the race while Iljo Keise and Martin Velits will be the experienced road captians. Lead out man Davide Martinelli will be an important rider for Gaviria while Rémi Cavagna provides another option for the team. The squad is completed by stagiaire Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz.
2017 is the first year the 179.2 km race has been held at 1.1 category. From the WorldTour, QuickStep-Floors will be joined by LottoNL-Jumbo with 17 teams in total taking to the Meulebeke start line.
Vallée moves to Wanty-Groupe Gobert
Boris Vallée has joined Odd Christian Eiking (FDJ) in signing for Belgian Pro-Continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The 24-year-old Belgian spent the two previous seasons with Fortuneo-Oscaro after two years in the WorldTour with the Lotto squad and has inked a two-year deal with Wanty
For me this is a bit of a return to the source. I'll be back home in a Belgian team near my home and friends," Vallée said of the deal. "That feels good. I already know a few riders from Wanty-Groupe Gobert and find a lot of Belgians in the team. There will be no language problem for my integration. I am pleased to join this familial team that rode a very international program in recent years."
A stage winner at the 2015 Tour de Wallonie, Vallée added he wants to boost his palmares with the Belgian team who impressed him with their debut Tour de France showing.
"I had a pretty difficult season with numerous crashes and other problems. But now new opportunities are offered," he said. "I want to climb the podium again and win races. I have four years of professional cycling in the legs, with two in the World Tour at Lotto. That will be useful to me. I want to offer my services to a strong team, who showed her strength in the last Tour de France. "
Along with the two signings, Wanty has also extended the contracts of Guillaume Martin, and Frederik Backaert while bidding farewell to Kenny Dehaes who moves to WB Veranclassic Aquality Protect.
Extension at LottoNL-Jumbo for Lindeman
Vuelta a España stage winner Bert Jan Lindeman will extend his LottoNL-Jumbo career into at least a fourth year with confirmation of a contract extension from the Dutch WorldTour team. The 28-year-old spent two years in the WorldTour with Vacansoleil - DCM before dropping to Continental level in 2014. He impressed that year to earn the contact with LotoNL-Jumbo and has proven to be a good signing since.
"I feel at home within the team and I appreciate my role," Lindeman said. "I support the leaders of the team, but I also get my own chances. Our staff works really well with all riders to improve them. That’s what I like the most. Personally, I'm still improving too."
Having made his Tour de France debut last year, Lindeman is currently racing the Vuelta a España. He joins Paul Martens, Koen Bouwman, Primoz Roglic, and Tom Leezer in extending his contract with the team.
First Japan Cup teams named for 2017
The race organisers of the 2017 Japan Cup have announced the first seven teams that will line out in Utsunomiya for the 26th edition of the event. WorldTour teams Cannondale-Drapac, BMC Racing, LottoNL-Jumvo and Trek-Segafredo, will be joined by Nippo-Vini Fantini and Novo Nordisk from the Pro-Continental ranks with Continental team Attaque Team Gusto completing the provisional line up.
There were 16 teams in attendance at the 2016 Japan Cup with Davide Villella of Cannondale-Drapac taking the win ahead of Orica's Chris Juul Jensen and Rob Power. The Japan Cup criterium was won by Fumiyuki Beppu (Trek-Segafredo) in Fabian Cancellara's farewell race from the professional peloton.
The Japan Cup will be held October 22 on the 144km Utsunomiya course. The race pays tribute to the World Championships which were held in the same city in 1990 when Rudy Dhaenens beat Belgian compatriot Dirk De Wolf to the rainbow jersey