News shorts: Katusha and Tinkoff-Saxo for Scheldeprijs

Kristoff to lead Katusha at Scheldeprijs

Tour of Flanders champion Alexander Kristoff will lead the Katusha team at the 1.HC Scheldeprijs classic on Wednesday with the team looking to clean sweep the Flemish classics. Luca Paolini won Gent-Wevelgem last month while Kristoff's win on Sunday sees the team in a rare position to win the oldest of the Flemish classics.

Kristoff has ridden Scheldeprijs for the past five years with his best result fifth in 2013. Three-time winner Marcel Kittel will miss the race due to illness and having won three stages and the overall at Three Days De Panne, he will be the man to beat.

Katusha for Scheldeprijs: Jacopo Guarnieri, Marco Haller, Alexander Kristoff, Viacheslav Kuznetsov, Luca Paolini, Aleksandr Porsev, Rudi Selig and Gatis Smukulis.

Mørkøv and Trusov for Tinkoff-Saxo at Scheldeprijs

With Peter Sagan eyeing the victory at Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, the Slovakian will ride Scheldeprijs in support of teammates Michael Mørkøv and Nikolay Trusov.

"We are at the start with seven riders, since Breschel went home for the birth of his second child. As with the past cobbled races, I think we have a homogenous team, only this time Nikolay and Michael will get the chance to show themselves and create a result for the team," sports director Tristan Hoffman said. "They are both fast riders, so they will talk to each other in the race and decide, who should spearhead the sprint or try to catch the wheel of one of the favourites."

Tinkoff-Saxo have won just two races this season and Trusov is hoping to make that three with a sprint finish after 200km of racing.

"The Scheldeprijs is similar to a sprint championship," Trusov said. "It is completely flat and very fast. I don't know what wind conditions we’ll encounter but it will undoubtedly be very fast and I would say that we have a 99% chance of a fast final sprint. I know that race quite well now, I took part four times and the finale is very dangerous. It is important to position ourselves at the front and stay in the wheels of one of the big sprinters. That way, even if you aren't a pure sprinter, you can still create opportunities."

Tinkoff-Saxo for Scheldeprijs: Peter Sagan (Svk), Maciej Bodnar (Pol), Christopher Juul Jensen (Den), Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Nikolai Trusov (Rus), Pavel Brutt (Rus) and Michael Morkov (Den).

Vos back in action in mountain bike race

Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) was back in action at the weekend after taking a break to recover from the hamstring injury that affected her cyclo-cross season.

According to report in the Dutch media, Vos won the Brabant Nieuwkuijk mountain bike race, beating Dutch champion Anne Terpstra.

"During training I’ve felt very good, but a half hour mountain biking circuit, is a different story. This is a great victory, especially with the home crowd here," Vos told Omroep Brabant.

Vos plans to race mountain bikes more often in 2015 as she prepares to ride both the mountain bike race and the road race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Betancur preparing for the Giro d'Italia, accepts he will miss the Tour de France

Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale) is riding this week’s Tour of the Basque Country as he ramps up his preparation for the Ardennes Classics and especially the Giro d’Italia.

The Colombian was seventh overall in the 2013 Tour of the Basque Country and then third at Flèche-Wallonne and fifth at the Giro d’Italia, also winning the best young rider’s white jersey. Last year, he struggled after winning Paris-Nice and spent four months of the season at home in Colombia, reportedly fighting mononucleosis. Despite putting on weight over the winter, Betancur has ridden the Tour de San Luis, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Volta a Catalunya.

"I feel pretty good, motivated and eager. I felt better in the Volta a Catalunya and I think I’m slowly getting back to where I should be," he said in an interview published via his agent.

"I have to suffer in these races and lose weight but we must wait to see how my body reacts because I'm asking it a lot. Before coming to Europe I was very sick and now I have to try to find my form. It’ll take time. I can’t say I want to win, because it’s impossible. I hope to take another step forward and from here, train well and then do the Classics and get to the Giro d'Italia, my big goal, in optimum condition."

Betancur has often clashed with the Ag2r-La Mondiale team management. He was hoping to secure a place in the French team’s Tour de France squad alongside leader Jean-Christophe Peraud and Romain Bardet. However he has accepted that he will spend July at home.

"If you ask me what I want to do, I’d say I want to do the Tour. But I'm not the one who decides, it’s up to my team and I’ll respect their decision," he said. "I hope to do well at the Giro d’Italia as I did in 2013. I think I can have an excellent Giro. I want to be on a podium, it may be too much to dream but you have to dream big, and we are fighting for it."


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