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Mara Abbott tames the Mortirolo in Giro Rosa stage win - News Shorts

Mara Abbott stormed over the Mortirolo on the fifth stage of the Giro Rosa on Wednesday, a 77.5km jaunt from Grosio to Tirano, to move into the pink jersey and lay claim for a third overall victory.

The 30-year-old last won on European soil at last year's Giro Rosa on stage 9 but has been in imperious form this season at home in the states with overall victory at the Tour of the Gila, second at the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the mountains classification at the Women's Tour of California.

"It's wonderful to be able to win, and it's wonderful to be able to pay back some of the trust that the girls have put in me so far," Abbott said of Wiggle-High5's second stage win of the race after Chloe Hosking's stage 3 success. "We've got four more days to get this done, so we're not taking anything for granted yet.

"We've still got four stages more to go," Abbott said of her overall race lead. "The goal is to finish in it, not just to wear it, so we've still got a lot of work to do!"

Abbot made her race winning move on the early slopes of the Mortirolo, powering past the break who would be the last riders to see her until the finish line besides crashing at one point.

"I pretty much went straight from the bottom and tried to take it as steady as I could for myself, to just go my pace and see where I could end up," she said. "A break was gone, but I went past them; so the break didn't last very long.

"There was a plateau for a while, and then some rollers. And on the first descent of the rollers I actually crashed… pretty badly, which was not really part of the game plan. I hit a big hole - there were a lot of those to look out for - but I was able to get back up and keep going. My bike was kind of messed up, but it worked.

"Then it was just a matter of getting my head back round to where I was, and really trying to focus myself, after landing pretty hard I had to get myself down the rest of the descent."

Abbot now leadsMegan Guarnier of Boels Dolmans by 10 seconds, teammate Elisa Longo Borghini by 15 seconds and Claudia Lichtenberg (Lotto Soudal Ladies) by 33 seconds. Stage 6 of the Giro Rosa is 118.6km from Andora - Alassio to Madonna della Guardia.

The stage 5 Giro Rosa podium: (L-to-R:) Elisa Longo Borghini, Mara Abbott, Tatiana Guderzo (Velofocus)

Lampre-Merida announce stage hunting team for Tour of Poland

Diego Ulissi and Sacha Modolo spearhead the Lampre-Merida team at next week's Tour de Pologne with the Italian duo to target stage wins.

Ulissi, who won two stages of the Giro d'Italia in May, already has one stage win from Poland on his palmares from 2013 and was twice second in the 2015 edition of the race. Modolo has several top-five results from his three appearances at the WorldTour race and will be looking to add to his 2016 haul of two Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey stages so far in 2016.

"The final time trial will shape the battle for the general classification in a different way from the past editions," sports director Orlando Maini said. "We'll start with the targets of trying to achieve top results in the stages and we'll rely on our captains Ulissi and Modolo."

The opening stages are expected to suit the sprinters before the race heads into the mountains where Lampre-Merida have Matej Mohoric and Przemyslaw Niemiec as stage winning options.

Italian neo-pro Simone Petilli lines up for his first stage race since his Giro debut in May and will look to impress on the mountain stages.

Mario Costa, Roberto Ferrari, and Manuele Mori will complete the team.

Lampre-Merida for the 2016 Tour de Pologne: Mario Costa, Roberto Ferrari, Sacha Modolo, Matej Mohoric, Manuele Mori, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Simone Petilli and Diego Ulissi.


Diego Ulissi celebrating a stage win at the Giro d'Italia in May (TDW Sports)

Astana announce two-year contract extension with Laurens De Vreese

Belgian Classics rider Laurens De Vreese has extended his stay with Astana into a fourth year following an announcement of a contract extension. The 27-year-old spent three seasons with Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator and one with Wanty-Groupe Gobert before joining the Kazakh squad.

"I am very glad that I will be part of the team for two more years. I spent there two very good seasons in which I learned a lot. I am honored of the trust that gave me the management and I am sure that I will continue to do my best for the team," he said in a team statement.

De Vreese was last in action at the Belgian national championships, finishing tenth, to bring to a close a busy opening half of the season in which he racked up 56 race days.

Astana team manager Alexander Vinokurov explained that the re-signing of De Vreese is a boost for the classics squad over the coming seasons.

"Laurens is very experienced and strong Belgian rider. His power, experience and knowledge of the Belgian roads are very important to the team at the classic races. It will be also a very good support for our Alexey Lutsenko," said Vinokurov.

Dates confirmed for third edition of Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race

The third running of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Geelong, Australia will be held over the weekend of January 27-29 following an announcement from the race organisers. The 2015 edition of the race was won by Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) after a late attack, while Amanda Spratt won the women's race.

A team presentation will be held on the Friday afternoon with the women's race to held the following day, along with the 'people's ride. The weekend of racing concludes with the men's race on Sunday.

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race started as an UCI 1.1 ranked event in 2014, moving up to 1.HC in 2015 and has expressed interest in joining the WorldTour. The UCI is yet to announce its road calendar for the 2017 season and which ranking it will award the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The Tour Down Under is currently the only WorldTour event in Australia.

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