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News shorts: Fuglsang considered leaving Astana, Giant-Alpecin for Tour Down Under

Fuglsang considered Astana departure

Jakob Fuglsang has said that he considered cutting short his three-year contract with Astana, after the recent scandals that surrounded the team. Astana have been marred by a number of recent scandals including the latest reports in the Italian press linking as many as 17 Astana members with the banned doctor Michele Ferrari.

"Of course it is something that crossed my mind, but I quickly decided to forget it," he said. "In the end it was important to wait to find out about the licence. With the case coming so late it would have been difficult to find a new team, maybe even impossible, if it had to be a team of the same level."

While he decided not to part ways with the team he still may leave when his contract is up at the end of 2015. Fuglsang joined Astana in 2013, after leaving the RadioShack team. "It's clear that I need to think about me, and what I have to do. I will look at it when my contract expires. But it is clear that what has happened prior to this season is something that I will think about," he told the Danish broadcaster TV2.

Fuglsang says that, despite the latest revelations, he believes doping is no longer an issue at the team. "I think that if there has been organized doping, then it is a closed chapter in our history… I hope that the new riders who have come forward in the media, who are on the team now, have not had anything to do with doping, and that you can trust them.

"I have not met Ferrari. I can also see that he has been out and denied that it is true. There is no one here on the team - that I know of - who has seen him."

Kittel heads for Tour Down Under with Giant-Alpecin

Marcel Kittel will begin his 2015 season at the Tour Down Under, where he is part of a Giant-Alpecin line-up that also includes World Championships time trial bronze medallist Tom Dumoulin and the American pair of Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga.

Kittel downplayed the prospect of winning multiple stages, citing the dearth of clear-cut chances for the sprinter to shine, but said that the Australian race was the ideal place to kick off the new campaign.

"It's a nice way for me to start the season and to find my legs again after the winter training," Kittel said. "Even if there aren’t too many opportunities for sprinters, the race is still part of my build-up to the season and in combination with the ideal race circumstances it is an ideal start to the year. I will go for any opportunities I have but I’ll also be supporting the strong team that we have here and our other goals."

Giant-Alpecin coach Ady Engels explained that the team’s primary objective in Adelaide will be to help Dumoulin and Simon Geschke’s general classification challenge but acknowledged that "when you start a race with Marcel in the team you have to have an eye on the sprint opportunities." To that end, Kittel will also be able to rely on the support of Albert Timmer and Koen de Kort.

Giant-Alpecin team for Tour Down Under, January 17-25: Marcel Kittel, Simon Geschke, Tom Dumoulin, Chad Haga, Lawson Craddock, Albert Timmer, Koen de Kort.

Caja Rural to ride Fuji

Spanish Pro Continental team Caja Rural will ride Fuji bikes from 2015 after signing a two-year agreement with the American-owned Japanese company. Caja Rural will use the Altamira frame alongside the new aero model the Transonic, which was launched ahead of the Tour de France. For the time trials, the team will ride the Narcom Straight.

"Caja Rural-Seguros RGA is a team that has grown tremendously over the last few years and makes their presence known in every event they race -- always looking for opportunities to attack, always in the breaks fighting for stage wins. Just look at how they performed at the Vuelta this year," said Fuji Sponsorship Manager Milay Galvez in a press release.

Fuji comes to the team after sponsoring NetApp-Endura for the past two seasons. The have ridden Vivelo for for the past three seasons.

Gord Fraser to direct Silber Pro Cycling through 2016

Canadian Continental team Silber Pro Cycling has announced that Silber has committed to two more season as the title sponsor and that Gord Fraser will direct the team through 2016. In addition, they announced a 10-man roster for 2015 that will be led by former national champion Ryan Roth.

Roth took six wins in 2014 along with a silver and bronze at the Canadian National Championships, second overall at Joe Martin Stage Race, and a series of top-10 finishes at UCI races. The roster also includes Alex Cataford, Matteo Dal-Cin, Elliott Doyle, Nigel Ellsay, Michael Le Rossignol, Nicolas Masbourian, Benjamin Perry, Alexander Ray and Derrick St-John.

"I'm looking forward to working with an incredible, young, and talented team," Fraser said in a team press release. "Together with some of our veterans Ryan and Derrick, we can expect our riders to develop at a very fast rate. I also look forward to working again with Silber Pro Cycling staff and ownership to establish this project together, and to help it grow into a sustainable team that continually achieves its long-term goals."

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