Horner will debut with Lupus Racing in Dominican Republic - News Shorts

Horner will debut with Lupus Racing in Dominican Republic

Chris Horner will make his 2016 debut with the Lupus Racing Team at the Vuelta Independencia Nacional Republica Dominica, an eight-stage UCI 2.2 race in the Dominican republic that takes place February 27-March 5.

The 2013 Vuelta a espana winner joined the team earlier this month after returning to the US last year with Airgas-Safeway. His new US team's mission is to bring attention to Lupus, an autoimmune disease, while competing on a mostly US domestic schedule.

The Vuelta Independencia Nacional Republica Dominica begins February 27 with a team time trial in Santo Domingo and concludes March 5 with a 100km circuit race in the same city. In between, the race visits Barahona, Mirador de Miches, Samana, San Francisco de Macoris, Constanza an Santiego de los Caballeros.

Lupus Racing Team roster for Vuelta Independecia Nacional Republica Dominica: Chad Beyer, Chris Horner, Mattieu Jeannes, Bryan Lewis, Michael Olheiser andThomas Vaubaourziex

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise presented in Antwerp

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise were officially presented Wednesday night in Antwerp, launching the Belgian Pro Continental team’s 22nd year in the pro peloton under various incarnations.

Team manager Christophe Sercu told the crowd gathered for the presentation that although the team lost many top riders to the WorldTour following the 2015 season, they were ready to be competitive again in 2016.

"A bunch of riders left, but that does not scare me,” he told the crowd. “We go 2016 with confidence.”

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise considers part of the team’s mission the development of young riders to the next level, and in that regard 2015 was a big success.

Edward Theuns signed a two-year deal with Trek-Segafredo in the offseason, while Jelle Wallays left for Lotto-Soudal, Oliver Naesen went to IAM Cycling and Victor Campenaerts got a two-year deal with LotttoNL-Jumbo.

"The team cannot expect to get the same results,” Sercu said, “but we are going to be riding in the spotlight and on the offensive. This team is made up of hard workers and that you will see in the races."

Sixty-eight-year-old Walter Planckaert also addressed the crowd, saying he continues to enjoy his work with the team and is not planning to retire anytime soon.

"I feel good in the team,” Planckaert said. “It is cozy, everything is good, there is discipline and we get results. What would I do at home?”

Belgian champion Preben Van Hecke speaks at the Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise presentation (TDWSport.com)

Wildcard invitation to Tour de Romandie for Wanty-Groupe Gobert

Belgian Pro-Continental team Wanty-Groupe Gobert have secured another WorldTour start with confirmation they will line up at the Tour de Romandie in April.

"This is another step in the development of the team," sports director Hilaire Van Der Schueren says. "We already offer our riders a fantastic Spring Classics' program but adding premium stage races like Volta a Catalunya, Tour de Romandie and Criterium du Dauphiné means we also have a great program in stage races. It's a wonderful opportunity for riders like Guillaume Martin, Thomas Degand, Roy Jans and Marco Minnaard to gain (further) experience in races of the highest level. There is one step left to take and that is an invitation to a Grand Tour."

The team have secured nine WorldTour starts so far in 2016, including and Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Enrico Gasparotto, a former winner of Amstel Gold Race and podium finisher at Liège–Bastogne–Liège, welcomed the news as he explained its importance to classics riders such as himself.

In Romandie you see riders preparing for the Giro d'Italia and you see riders, like me, who just finished the Ardennes Classics and ride on for one more week," Gasparotto said. "Personally I love Tour de Romandie because it offers really hard stages but also opportunities for myself. When things are not going to plan in the Ardennes it's a chance to redeem myself. If Ardennes are going really well I take that form into the Tour de Romandie. Furthermore it's a wonderful opportunity for our younger riders to ride with Grand Tour winners like Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali or Nairo Quintana."

Zepuntke heads home to Germany after Tour la Provence crash

Ruben Zepuntke, Cannondale Pro Cycling's 23-year-old German, is headed home for surgery to treat an injured elbow after he collided with a tree during the final stage of the Tour la Provence on Thursday, according to a Tweet from the team. Zepuntke, who is in his second year with the US WorldTour squad, crashed heavily off the side of the road in the final stage won by Etixx-QuickStep's Fernando Gaviria.

Zepuntke was competing in his second race of 2016 after starting his season in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under. Zepuntke's best result as a pro came in 2014 when he won a stage and finished third overall at the Tour of Alberta while riding on the Continental level with Axel Merckx's Bissell Development Team.

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