No Tour de France for Slagter
Tom Jelte-Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin) won’t be able to ride the Tour de France through his native Netherlands after he was told by team manager Jonathan Vaughters that he won’t be riding the Grand Tour this year. Slagter will instead ride the Giro d’Italia in May while Andrew Talansky and Dan Martin get the nod for the Tour in July.
"I'm on one side quite disappointed that I probably will not start in the Tour," Slagter told RTV Noord. "However, I also see benefits. Good form in the spring and in the Giro gives me a good bargaining position. My contract expires, but I want to stay with Cannondale Garmin."
Slagter completed his Tour de France debut with Garmin-Sharp in 2014 where he played a support role for his teammate Andrew Talansky, before the American abandoned ahead of stage 12.
In preparation for the Giro d’Italia, Slagter’s season takes on an Italian feel and he will not return to Paris-Nice. The Dutchman will begin his season at Strade Bianche on March 7, and will ride Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo before his the Ardennes -the first big objective of his season.
Majka to ride Tour and Vuelta
Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) will take on both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2015, according to the Spanish website Biciciclismo. The website states that Majka will go to the Tour de France to ride in support of Alberto Contador but will take the role of leader at the Vuelta.
Majka made a surprise debut at the Tour de France last year, after team chose to pull Roman Kreuziger from their selection due to a UCI investigation into his biological passport. Majka had already competed at the Giro d’Italia, where he finished sixth overall, and was initially reluctant to step into the team. He went on to win two stages and the mountains classification in the wake of Contador’s dramatic departure from the race.
The 25-year-old will start racing in 2015 at the Tour of Oman, followed by Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya. Majka is still undecided about riding the Vuelta a País Vasco ahead of the Ardennes classics. His build-up to the Tour de France will begin with the Tour de Romandie, the Tour de Suisse and the Polish National championships.
Ballan determined to make a comeback despite CAS delay
Alessandro Ballan will have to wait until February 27 to hear if his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against his two-year ban has been successful. A verdict was expected today but Ballan's lawyer was informed of the delay on Wednesday.
Ballan was banned for two years by the Italian Olympic Committee after phone taps carried out by police during the Mantova-based investigation into the activities of pharmacist Guido Nigrelli and his links with the Lampre team. During a disciplinary hearing in Rome in January 2014, Ballan claimed that he had not had a performance-enhancing blood transfusion in 2009, but had undergone ozone therapy in order to treat cytomegalovirus. CONI’s anti-doping tribunal rejected his argument and banned him from competition until January 2016. He was subsequently fired by the BMC team in January 2014 and made his appeal to CAS in March.
Ballan was world champion in 2008 and won the Tour of Flanders in 2007. He is now 35 but is convinced he will make a comeback when any eventual suspension ends.
"I can't wait to start racing again. I want to make a comeback even if I haven't got a team at the moment: I want to be the one who decides when I retire," Ballan told his local newspaper La Tribuna di Treviso.
"I think I've been stopped unfairly and that I'm going to pay a high price. I often train with Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff-Saxo) and he's 41. If I'm healthy, nobody will stop me riding in the peloton for another five years."