News shorts: Lotto-Soudal get WorldTour licence, Contador praises Andy Schleck

Lotto-Soudal secure WorldTour licence

The UCI are yet to issue the official press release to confirm the teams that have made it into next year's WorldTour, however Lotto-Soudal have confirmed that they will once again be taking part in cycling's top tier. The Belgian team jumped the gun on the official announcement and issued a short statement on their website on Wednesday morning.

"The UCI has awarded a WorldTour licence to Lotto Soudal for 2015. The licence has to be obtained annually and is based on sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria," it read.

The Lotto team has been part of the WorldTour when it was established in 2009. They have been racing under the name Lotto-Belisol since 2012, but will change to Lotto-Soudal for the 2015 season.

Hoogerland gets compensation

More than three years after being somersaulted into a barbed wire fence, after being hit by a car during a stage of the 2011 Tour de France, Johnny Hoogerland has received compensation. The case for compensation has been a long one, but Hoogerland finally settled with insurance company AIG, who insured the car involved.

"It has taken a long time, but I'm glad it's all over," Hoogerland told the website Helden Online. "I understand that insurance issues often take much longer. It does not matter, it's fixed now. You know that money doesn't interest me. I'm just glad that I can put a lid on it."

The incident happen during the ninth stage of the 2011 race when a France Television car tried to overtake the breakaway and touched Hoogerland and Team Sky's Juan Antonio Flecha, flicking them off the road at speed. Hoogerland was left with deep wounds to the back of his legs, but was able to remount his bike and finish the stage and the Tour de France.

Hoogerland will ride with the Dutch ProContinental team Roompot Orange Cycling in 2015, after a year with Androni Giocattoli-Venuzuela.

Contador: Andy Schleck was my biggest rival

Alberto Contador has paid tribute to the recently-retired Andy Schleck by describing him as the biggest rival of his career. Contador was speaking in an interview in the latest issue of Vélo Magazine to mark his election as winner of the Vélo d'Or for 2014. It is the fourth time that Contador has won the award voted by an international panel of journalists.

"Andy was my biggest rival, much more so than Froome, who has only arrived in the past two years," Contador said. "I battled the most with him, and I also spent some very cool moments with him too…"

"“I hope that he enjoys being with his family and his passions outside of cycling, and that he's happy."

Schleck finished second to Contador at the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Tour de France, and was subsequently awarded the latter race when the Spaniard tested positive for clenbuterol. Contador said that Schleck was "maybe" the most talented rider of his generation but expressed reservations about the rigour of his approach to training.

"[Was he] most gifted of all? I don't know but maybe," Contador said. "The problem is that he had a very full life outside of cycling. Perhaps he didn't always have the super-organised, super-strict life of a bike rider, but he always managed to be on top form for one race in the year. And not just any race, but the Tour. Nobody else knew how to do that."

Contador and Schleck's rivalry reached its apotheosis during the 2010 Tour on the climb of the Port de Balès. After shadowing each other closely on the way up the climb, Contador attacked just as Schleck's chain slipped and he duly divested him of the yellow jersey, which he would carry to Paris.

"That day I had decided to attack and there was no question of changing my tactics," Contador said. "It went the way it did. He accelerated and then he had this problem. These are situations, circumstances of the race."

Contador added that Schleck had already benefited from the goodwill of his rivals – and the stalling tactics of teammate Fabian Cancellara – when he and his brother Fränk were caught up in a crash on the rain-soaked stage to Spa in week one.

"Cancellara calmed everybody down, we waited for them and they came back on," Contador recalled. "Except the next day on the stage over the cobbles, Fränk fell again and I found myself caught behind. Andy was in front with Cancellara and they didn't wait. On the contrary, they rode flat-out to build a gap."

Nibali takes Mendrisio d'Oro

It is awards season for cycling, and Vincenzo Nibali has received another honour. He lost out to Alberto Contador in the Velo d'Or last month, but the Tour de France champion was honoured the Swiss equivalent the Mendrisio d'Oro. Last year's was awarded to 2013 Tour champion Chris Froome.

The Silver award, given to an emerging Swiss talent, was given to BMC development rider Stefan Küng, who will ride with the WorldTour team from next season.

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