News shorts: Andy Schleck to retire?

Andy Schleck about to retire?

Andy Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) has called a press conference for this Thursday, igniting speculation that the Luxembourger may be about to announce his retirement from cycling. Schleck will hold the press conference in Luxembourg at 10:30 local time on Thursday 9 October.

Schleck has been out of action since stage three of the Tour de France when he crashed in the London finale and injured his knee. The 29-year-old has been struggling to find his top form ever since fracturing his hip in the 2012 Tour, and his contract with Trek is due to finish at the end of this season. Without any results, he worried that he may not be able to secure an extension. His older brother Fränk recently signed a two-year deal with the team.

BMC to Beijing

BMC will be sending a strong line-up to the Tour of Beijing, as they look to secure second place in the WorldTour rankings. Tejay van Garderen will head to the race in search of the overall victory. Samuel Sanchez and Philippe Gilbert will also hotfoot it from Lombardia to China.

For van Garderen and Gilbert it will be their first appearance at the race, while Sanchez is riding it for the third time. Stephen Cummings is the only rider to have ridden all previous editions and will be present for it’s final one. The British rider won the final stage of the 2012 race, outsprinting Ryder Hesjedal outside the Bird’s nest stadium in the city centre.

BMC are currently 82 points behind Tinkoff-Saxo in the team classification and with 100 points available for the overall victory, and none of Tinkoff’s top riders heading out, second is well within their grasp. Movistar is already assured of ending the season in the top spot.

Lastras extends with Movistar

Pablo Lastras will ride his 18th season as a professional cyclist after extending for a further year with Movistar. Lastras has been with the team through it’s many guises, after joining it under the Banesto name in 1998. During his long career, the 38-year-old has won stages of all three Grand Tours with his most recent coming at the 2011 Vuelta a España.

"It's a true luxury to have 'master' Lastras aboard for one more year," said team manager Eusebio Unzué. "His involvement and commitment are unique. His assets to the team are invaluable: he adds experience, strategic vision and knows how to pass on his knowledge to the young riders. He's a rider and a man really necessary for us."

Lastras said of his new contract, “I'm a lucky man. Being able to enjoy bike racing one more year and doing so in the best team in the world is kind of unreal. In 2015, I'll be as happy to start the season as I was in 1995… I hope to get the best from every single day here next year."

Bora sign Salerno

Cannondale rider Cristiano Salerno is the latest rider to sign for the Bora team for next year. The Italian will join the likes of Dominik Nerz and Björn Thurau at the Pro Continental team in 2015. Salerno has been with Cannondale since 2011, where he has worked as a domestique for Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali. He won the mountains classification at the Volta a Catalunya in 2013.

"After having already secured some of the best climbing talents from the German-speaking countries and signing a tour captain in Dominik Nerz, we were on the lookout for a well-established climber. Cristiano fulfils this requirement and also brings with him important experience from the three-week tours," said Bora team manager Ralph Denk.

Giro d'Italia unlikely for Cofidis and Bouhanni

While Nacer Bouhanni politely told his hosts at the Giro d’Italia presentation that he hoped to ride the Giro-Tour double in 2015, his new manager Yvon Sanquer has taken a more pragmatic view, admitting that it is highly unlikely that Cofidis will seek a wildcard invitation to the corsa rosa.

“Our interests in Spain oblige us to ride the Vuelta and you have to be realistic: we’ll only have a roster of 25 riders, with four neo-professionals, which wouldn’t allow us to honour the Giro as it deserves,” Sanquer told L’Équipe.

Sanquer is hopeful, however, that the arrival of Bouhanni, winner of three stages at this year's Giro, will be enough to secure Cofidis a wildcard invitation to Milan-San Remo, which will be the centrepiece of the sprinter’s spring, along with Gent-Wevelgem.

Appollonio swaps AG2R for Androni

After two years with AG2R La Mondiale, Davide Appollonio will step down from WorldTour level for 2015. The Italian will ride for Gianni Savio’s Androni Giocattoli-Venuzuela team next season. Appollonio turned professional with Cérvelo test team in 2010 and moved to Sky a year later. The move marks the first time since turning professional that he will ride for an Italian team.

“It is a new start for me. I am very grateful to AG2R La Mondiale, my teammates, the assistants and staff for these last two years and meanwhile I am grateful for the confidence that Gianni Savio has in me to give me this opportunity,” said Appollonio.

Despite Appollonio being without a victory since 2011, Savio is confident that he can help increase the team’s win tally in 2015. “He is a cyclist that at this moment we are missing from our team,” said Savio. “This season we had protagonists and attackers and we’ve always had good results, top tens and podiums, but we have only taken six victories. We are missing a goal scorer and Appollonio is that rider.”

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