News shorts: Nibali willing to ride Tour de San Luis with Italian national team

Nibali prepared to ride Tour de San Luis with Italian national team

Vincenzo Nibali is considering the possibility of starting his 2015 season in the colours of the Italian national team at the Tour de San Luis in January if his Astana team opts not to participate in the event.

"I'd like to start in Argentina, at San Luis," Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's unlikely Astana will be there but I know the national team will be. If [Davide] Cassani picks me, I'd not only be available, I'd be happy."

If Nibali does not succeed in reaching an arrangement to ride in San Luis, he is likely to begin the new campaign at the Dubai Tour in February. He will also ride Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, and then have a spell at altitude before tackling the Ardennes Classics. His presence at the Giro d'Italia is still under consideration. "I'd like to be there, you know that, but nothing has been decided yet," he told Gazzetta. "But I'll certainly be at the Tour."

Nibali was speaking at a sponsor’s event near Milan on Tuesday after an audience with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi in Rome earlier in the day. He said that he was already thinking further ahead, to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. "The Olympic project is very attractive to me, I spoke about it with Renzi too. We all know the universal value of the Games. Cassani told me that the course is hard, very difficult and suited to me. And that only motivates me more."

Asked about the prospect of a pool of Italian sponsors eventually funding a top-level home team, Nibali said: "I'd make myself available if an initiative like that were to arise. I'd very gladly be part of that Italian team."

Nibali's current contract with Astana expires at the end of 2016, although L'Équipe reported last week that he is considering an offer to extend his stay with the team until 2020. The UCI's Licence Commission is currently reviewing Astana's management and anti-doping policies following a recent spate of positive tests on the team.

Contador wins Velo d'Or

Alberto Contador has won the Velo d'Or, which is awarded to the best rider of the year by Vélo Magazine, for the fourth time. The Vuelta a España winner beat out Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde for the prize. Contador previously won the Velo d'Or in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Contador earned the award through his victories in Tirreno-Adriatico, the Vuelta al País Vasco and the Vuelta, and second places in the Volta ao Algarve, the Volta a Catalunya and the Critérium du Dauphiné. He finished second overall to Valverde in the WorldTour rankings.

The award was previously given to Tour de France winners Chris Froome in 2013 and Bradley Wiggins in 2012. Jean-Christopher Péraud, second in the Tour de France, won the Velo d'Or for Best French rider.

Lacambra joins Bigla as directeur sportif

Spaniard Manel Lacambra will direct the Bigla Pro Cycling Team in 2015, the team announced today. Lacambra previously directed the Tibco, Diadora-Pasta Zara and Cervelo women's teams, and spent this season working with the MTN-Qhubeka men's squad.

"I love women's cycling and Bigla has been a serious and professional sponsor for many years," Lacambra said. "The team is building a super strong roster. Not only strong individually, but also strong as a group. This, together with the excellent management and staff we will have, creates the dream team, which I am looking forward to be a part of."

How to win a professional contract

The Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) has revived the Topcompetitie racing series, with the overall winner being awarded a professional contract with the newly formed Roompot Orange Cycling Team. The series will consist of 16 one-day races, over varying terrains, with 11 of the events categorised as 1.2. It will begin with the Ster van Zwolle on February 28 and end on September 20 with the Rabo Baronie Breda Classic. There will be three classifications; individual, team and best young rider (under 23) and an award for most combative, which will be awarded after each race.

The Topcompetitie last took place in 2004, won by Marvin van der Pluijm, and was seen as a way for local talent to be spotted by the professional teams. However, it ended when the UCI brought in the Continental circuit at the beginning of 2005, which allowed young hopefuls to show their talent around the world. The new competition is the initiative of former rider Flavio Pasquino and businessman Maarten von Winning.

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