News shorts: New French stage race planned for February

New French stage race planned for February

French local newspaper La Provence has unveiled its plans to hold a new three-day stage race in the region from February of next year. The event, to be known as the Tour La Provence, is pencilled in to take place from February 23-25.

The addition of a new race in southern France in February would compensate in part for the demise of the Tour Mediterranéen, which this season, for the first time in its 41-year history, did not take place due to financial problems.

Already approved by the French Cycling Federation (FFC) and the French Cycling League (LNC), the organisers will now forward their dossier to the UCI, applying for 2.1 status for the race. The UCI will approve the 2016 calendar during the World Championships in Richmond in September.

The Tour La Provence would take place between the Tour du Haut-Var (February 20-21) and the Boucles-Drôme-Ardèche (February 27-28). As in the case of the Tour du Haut-Var, the OCCV club in Draguignan will be involved in the race organisation.

"We'll have more or less a similar field with maybe even more leaders than at the Tour du Haut-Var," organiser Serge Pascal told La Provence. "All of the teams will be happy because they will benefit from seven days of competition in one small geographical area in the space of one week."

According to La Provence, the organisers hope to attract 10 WorldTour teams to the race (there will be 20 in total) with priority given to French squads.

Santambrogio works as coach while awaiting verdict

Mauro Santambrogio is still waiting for the UCI to issue a verdict on his positive test for testosterone from last October and the 30-year-old has been keeping himself busy in the intervening period by offering his services as a cycling coach at the "Free Move Academy" in Albese, near Como, according to Tuttobici.

The services offered by Santambrogio include core-stability exercises, indoor interval training and "personal and group training sessions on the road."

Santambrogio's positive test came as he was set to return from the ban he served for his EPO positive at the 2013 Giro d'Italia. The Italian had agreed a deal to ride for Amore e Vita in 2015 but is currently provisionally suspended and awaiting a final verdict from the UCI.

Santambrogio has claimed that his testosterone positive was caused by treatment for fertility problems and erectile dysfunction. The positive test came less than a week before his previous ban (reduced due to his collaboration with CONI) was about to expire.

Time trial champions crowned ahead of Tour de France

The first batch of victors from the main week of national championships around the globe were crowned, with the majority coming in the individual time trial category.

Alex Dowsett (Movistar) won his fourth British National Time Trial title, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) won his seventh, as did Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden), while Jerome Coppel ended Syvlain Chavanel's reign in the French championships. Bob Jungels (Luxembourg) won his second title, Alexey Lutsenko was victorious in Kazakhstan, and Silvan Dillier took the Swiss title in Fabian Cancellara's absence.

Together with yesterday's winner in the Netherlands, Wilco Kelderman, Boasson Hagen, Jungels and Coppel will bring their new jerseys to the Tour de France with LottoNl-Jumbo, MTN-Qhubeka, Trek and IAM Cycling, respectively.

"I am really happy to take the win today," Boasson Hagen said. "I felt good on the course so to come away with the jersey is great, especially as we are going into the Tour now and I will be able to ride in the Norwegian colours once again. I've still got the road race on Sunday now before the Tour. It will be a special race as we are racing in my home town but there will be more competition on Sunday than we had today. Guys like Alexander Kristoff will be there and it is a hard course but I look forward to it."

Jungels was on track to put in a dominant performance to win his title, and though he suffered a puncture he was confident he would win. "I had a flat tire in the second lap and I had to change the bike," he said. "I was just about to catch Drucker who started in front of me by a minute, and then I punctured, so I was not nervous, I knew I was in a good position. I changed the bike and I was about 100 meters behind him at the line so I knew it was probably enough to win it."

Van Aert in, Monfort out of Belgian road championship, Debusschere hopes to defend

Cyclo-cross star Wout Van Aert has recovered enough to take the start in the Belgian road race championship on Sunday, he revealed on Twitter. The Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace rider has been nursing a fractured wrist.

Not taking part is Maxime Monfort (Lotto Soudal), who is still suffering the effects of a crash at the Tour de Suisse.

Defending champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) is hoping to hang onto his title, but says even if he doesn't, he said "I've had a fantastic year."

"I have a chance of winning the title again this weekend. My condition is really good. You need luck as well, but I don’t have less chance than other riders. It’s not an easy course, but not too tough either. A race of 250 kilometres is always hard, even if it’s flat. The last three to four laps the ascent of the Horenberg will get tougher. I consider Tom Boonen, Sep Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet to be the main favourites. We have several cards to play."

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