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News shorts: Hepburn returning to the track for Rio Olympic Games

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Michael Hepburn (AUS) salutes the crowd

Michael Hepburn (AUS) salutes the crowd
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) took the stage 9 victory

Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) took the stage 9 victory
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Michael Hepburn leads QLD in the rainbow jersey

Michael Hepburn leads QLD in the rainbow jersey
(Image credit: Mark Gunter)
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Fabio Aru and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana)

Fabio Aru and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Tiralongo (Astana)

Paolo Tiralongo (Astana)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) trying for his second Vuelta stage win

Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) trying for his second Vuelta stage win
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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It's all Etixx-Quick Step at the front

It's all Etixx-Quick Step at the front
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Australian Michael Hepburn announced his return to the track in preparations for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games. The former team and individual pursuit world champion is hard at work hoping to secure a sport on the Olympic team. Of the 2012 silver medal squad, Rohan Dennis is the only one said to be skipping the track in Rio, while Jack Bobridge, Glen O'Shea, and Alex Edmondson are also busy training for a spot of their own.

"It's been a few years since I’ve been on the track," Hepburn told The Advertiser. "It's also a completely new group of riders and staff compared with my time in the program for London. I've followed the boys in the team pursuit over the past few years and have noticed how this discipline continually gets faster and more specific."

Hepburn left the track in 2013 to pursue road ambitions with Orica GreenEdge, but has the full support of the team and Cycling Australia as he begins another quest. The 24-year-old is currently in the United States prepping for the UCI World Championships before joining the Australian track team at the Oceania Championships in Invercargill for the October 8-11 meet.

"It's going to be a big ask coming from long road tours and adjusting the body to fire over that four minute effort again," he said. "I'm very excited about the challenge and confident that we can build a program right up until the big goal in August next year."

Hepburn won the 2014 Australian time trial title and quickly followed that up with victory at the Tour of Qatar against the clock. In the last two season, Hepburn rode the Giro d'Italia and helped the team to team time trial success and finishing on both occasions.

 

The 2012 Australian team pursuit squad: Michael Hepburn, Rohan Dennis, Glen O'Shea and Jack Bobridge with their silver medals

Tiralongo extends Astana contract

Veteran rider Paolo Tiralongo announced he has extended his contract with Astana through to 2017. The 38-year-old will be entering his 16th year as a professional cyclist in 2016 after winning stages earlier this year at the Giro d'Italia and Giro del Trentino.

2015 saw the Italian in a mentoring role for Fabio Aru at the Giro and Vuelta a Espana but Tiralongo was forced to abandon the Spanish grand tour after suffering facial injuries that required 20 stitches in a crash on stage 3. Tiralongo recovered from is injuries in time to join the team for the celebration in Madrid of Aru's overall victory.

"It was not easy to retire or stay at home," Tiralongo told Tuttobiciweb. "I did not follow the race live on television, I could not, I get nervous and was sick...I could not miss Madrid. It was nice to get together and celebrate Fabio. I ran away with a tear. He gave us all a great feeling. I know the sacrifices he has made and those we made as a group to get there.

"I will spend another two seasons alongside Fabio [Aru]," Tiralongo added regarding the news of his extension. "I have proven to be more competitive; this year I have collected two wins. [Team manager Alexander] Vinokourov had offered me other possibilities but I chose to ride because there is no better place to see the race than from within the group."

Etixx-Quick Step announce Desselgem Koerse and Grand Prix de Wallonie rosters

Etixx-Quick Step announced the selections for the upcoming Desselgem Koerse and Grand Prix de Wallonie with Gianni Meersman and Mark Renshaw spearheading the team's aspirations. The Belgian squad swept the podium in 2014 with Andrew Fenn earning the victory. The peloton will race for 17 laps around a 9.12km circuit as Etixx-Quick Step looks to defend its title through Renshaw Tuesday.

The following day the team backs up at the Grand Prix de Wallonie at home in Belgium where it will hope to improve on Jan Bakelants's third place last season. Defending champion Greg Van Avermaet is absent having headed to the United States along with several top rider who are preparing for the World Championships in Richmond. The one-day event will feature several WorldTour teams on a course that includes seven climbs over 198.2km and serve as a final warm up race for several rider who will head to America following the race.

Etixx-Quick Step for the 2015 Desselgem Koerse: Michal Golas, Gianni Meersman, Mark Renshaw, Fabio Sabatini and Lukasz Wisniowski.

Etixx-Quick Step roster for 2015 Grand Prix de Wallonie: David De La Cruz, Michal Golas, Gianni Meersman, Mark Renshaw, Fabio Sabatini, Pieter Serry, Petr Vakoc and Lukasz Wisniowski.

Kenny Elissonde displays GC potential at Vuelta a Espana

16th place overall in Madrid saw FDJ's Kenny Elissonde finish as the second best Frenchman and record his best grand tour result from four starts. The 24-year-old won a gruelling stage on his grand tour debut atop the Angliru but has struggled with the balance of hunting stage wins and focusing on the general classification. In 2011 Elissonde won the U23 Ronde de l'Isard ahead of the likes of Romain Bardet and Joe Dombrowski which remains his sole overall win in his career so far.

"I'm happy with my Vuelta," the climber said. "I really enjoyed it because there was not a GC leader in the team this year. I have raced differently, often on the attack and that is how I was able to get this final result. Also, because my teammates helped me a lot."

FDJ was part of several breakaways throughout the three weeks of racing but was unable to leave with a stage win. Despite the lack of results for the team, Elissonde remained optimistic, adding his announcement regarding his extended contract with the team. "I finish the Vuelta also knowing that I’m going to stay one more year on my team."

Elissonde's result confirms his GC potential following on from eighth at the Tour of Oman, 16th at Tour de Pologne and seventh at the Tour de l'Ain this season.