Norway will field a strong team for next month's World Championships with Katusha's Alexander Kristoff and Dimension Data's national champion Edvald Boasson Hagen headlining the squad. The duo are currently racing the Eneco Tour to tune up for the Worlds.
Kristoff won three stages of the Tour of Qatar in February as he finished second overall while Boasson Hagen won the time trial and finished third in an early-season dress rehearsal for October's race. While Kristoff won bronze in the 2012 Olympic Games road race, he is yet to medal at a World Championships while Boasson Hagen claimed silver in the 2012 Worlds.
The duo will be supported by a strong squad that includes Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling) and 2014 U23 world champion Sven Erik Bystøm (Team Katusha). Norway qualified for a full quota of nine riders for the men's road race for just the second time in its history and first time since 2009.
Boasson Hagen and Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling) have been chosen to also ride the time trial.
The women's team will see three starters with Katrine Aalerud and Hitec Prodcuts duo Cecilie Gotaas Johnsen and Emilie Moberg getting the call up.
The U23 men's team features Tour de l'Avenir stage winners Kristoffer Halvorsen, who recently won the Grand Prix d'Isbergues - Pas de Calais, and Amund Grøndahl Jansen, who will be joined by Anders Skaarseth (Team Joker), Ole Forfang (Team Joker), Rasmus Fossum Tiller and Fridtjof Røinås (Team Sparebanken Sør).
In total, there will be 26 Norwegian members of the national team for the 2016 Worlds.
Thor Hushovd is the only Norwegian to win the rainbow jersey, taking home gold at the 2010 Worlds.
Norway elite men's team for Doha Worlds: Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Sondre Holst Enger (IAM Cycling), Sven Erik Bystøm (Team Katusha), Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling), Truls Korsæth (Team Joker), Daniel Hoelgaard (FDJ) and Kristoffer Skjerping (Cannondale-Drapac).
One-year Wanty extension for Robin Stenuit
Belgian Robin Stenuit will remain with Pro-Continental squad Wanty-Groupe Gobert for a third season in 2017. The 26-year-old won the 2015 edition of Schaal Sels in his first season with the Belgian Pro-Continental outfit and has recorded several top-ten results across the 2016 season while working as a leadout man.
"I'm happy to stay with the team for another year. The team appreciated my work this season. I hope to make a step forward next season," Stenuit said. "In 2016 my job in the team consisted of helping our other fast guys. I learned a lot."
"It was a difficult year. I needed time to adapt myself to this level. I managed to grab my chances as well," he added.
Having finished eight in his last race, the Primus Classic Impanis - Van Petegem, Stenuit is looking to end his season on a high before focusing on next season.
"I feel good at the moment. I hope I can get another good result before the end of the year," he added. "In 2017 I'll try to continue to be a good lead-out man for Kenny Dehaes but I would like to get my second professional victory."
Michael Storer on first season in U23 ranks with the Australian national team
19-year-old Michael Storer stepped up the U23 ranks in the 2016 season, kick starting his season with fifth in the national time trial and sixth in the road race back in January but it was his 19th place at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race later that month which suggested he would be a rider to watch. A solid 20th place at the Herald Sun Tour followed before joining with the WorldTour Academy team for a season of European racing.
"As a priority I wanted to adapt to the European lifestyle and racing in U23s. I also wanted to try and achieve results in the hillier races in this second part," Storer told Cyclingnews of his ambitions for the 2016 season.
"I judge 2016 as being really successful. I think I've gotten used to spending so much time out of Australia and I've really developed better skills for racing in a higher quality field of riders. I want to do well in the time trials and team time trials and help the team chase results. It would be great to improve my racing skills more."
After several months of racing in Northern Europe, Storer and the Australian team moved to its Italian base to focus on the second half of the season with Tour de l'Avenir its major objective. A week out from the prestigious U23 race, Storer took a solo victory at the Gran Premio Sportivi di Poggiana.
"I'm definitely most proud of winning Poggiana because I had worked really hard to do well there and it was against a high level of competition," he said of the victory.
On stage of Tour de l'Avenir, Storer made his first mark on the race with a second place finish on stage 5 which was followed a strong finish to the race as he ended up in seventh place overall.
"The win would have been very special, I was thinking of that stage as being one I could do well in if everything fell into place. Unfortunately a few mistakes I made may have cost me it. But I am very keen to go back to l'Avenir next year to chase better results again," he said of the stage 5 finish. "The race was really challenging especially the last three days in the mountains. One of the things I can take from it is that the race is never over till it's over. Some days I lost time but on the last day I gained a lot of time. "
Following a confidence boosting first season in the U23, Storer is ready to step up again and build on his 2016 season as he added.
"I always want to chase big results and the more the season went on the more I wanted to do well. It's given me some confidence in myself because now I know I can do it and I know where I need to be to chase those results," he said.
Continental development team Klein Constantia to shut up shop at end of season
The Klein Constantia team that has served as a feeder squad for Etixx-QuickStep will come to a close at the end of the season. The team debuted in the peloton in 2013 and has won over 50 races since although the UCI WorldTour reforms has seen the team pull up stumps as it explained.
"During its existence, Klein Constantia saw six riders make the step up to the World Tour with Etixx–Quick-Step, while two others joined top teams of the peloton. Nine other riders have secured contracts with professional Continental Tour teams," team manager Petr Kováč said. "Their successes were achieved on a solid foundation, built with passion and dedication by the team's staff and sponsors, with Mr. Zdenek Bakala at the helm. We would also like to say a big thank you to the companies Janom, Kalas and ELKOV elektro as well as to everyone who has supported us since the inception of this structure."
Julian Alaphilippe, Petr Vakoč and Lukasz Wisniowski all rode for the team before joining the Etixx-QuickStep, with current Klein Constantia trio Rémi Cavagna, Enric Mas and Maximilian Schachmann joining the squad from 2017.
"For World Tour teams, 2017 will be a transitional year during which we need to take each step at a time and see how the reform involving youth teams is implemented and where this road will take us in the end. Etixx–Quick-Step will continue to invest in, and look for, young talent, as the scouting programme – which has already brought into the squad a rider of Fernando Gaviria's calibre – is an important part of our philosophy," added Etixx-QuickStep CEO Patrick Lefevere.
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