News shorts: Optum down to four in Ladies Tour of Qatar, 5 WorldTour teams to Trofeo Laigueglia

Optum down to four in Ladies Tour of Qatar

The Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team was down to just four riders after the opening stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar on Tuesday. The team lost Annie Ewart to illness before the the start of stage 1, and then Maura Kinsella was involved in a slow-speed crash during the stage.

Kinsella went to the hospital with possible broken ribs, according to Radsport News.

"That was not a good start for us. Now we have to ride more conservatively," team director Pat McCarty said. "The other four are doing well and we will now see what we can do in the sprints for Leah [Kirchmann]. We could still get a stage podium."

The team still has Kirchmann, Alison Tetrick, Janel Holcomb and Brianna Walle in the race.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice bank on Bole for Hotta Dam finish in Dubai

Grega Bole will be CCC Sprandi Polkowice’s main overall contender at the Dubai Tour. The Slovenian climber will target the stage 3 final climb on Hotta Dam. The team will also support sprinters Christian Delle Stella and Maciej Paterski during other three stages.

Bole had a strong 2014 season with the Vini Fantini-Nippo team securing multiple podium performances at the Japan Cup Road Race, Memorial Marco Pantani, Copa Agostoni-Giro dell Brianze, Giro delle’Appennino, second in a stage at the Tour of Qinghai Lake and he was second overall at the Tour of Japan.

He started his season at the Mallorca Challenge where he competed in three of the four events and his top placing was seventh at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana.

"After a long training camp in Calpe and the seasonal debut in the Challenge Mallorca, the boys are ready to tackle this fascinating race Dubai Tour,” said the team’s manager Piotr Wadecki.

“Here you will find the strongest WorldTour teams and this is a great chance for us to see to what extent are our guys, I think all of us are aware, at the CCC Team, of the great opportunities we have to prove our value.”

CCC Sprandi Polkowice team for Dubai Tour: Grega Bole, Maciej Paterski, Christiane Delle Stelle, Lukasz Owsian, Jaroslaw Marycz, Sylwester Szmyd, Adrian Kurek, Grzegorz Stepniak.

Bardiani-CSF supports Ruffoni and Battaglin in Dubai

Nicola Ruffoni will lead his Bardiani-CSF squad in the sprints at the Dubai Tour this week. The Italian will go shoulder to shoulder with some of the world’s top fast men including Mark Cavendsh (Etixx-QuickStep) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin).

“Winter has gone well and my training schedule too,” Ruffoni said in a team press release. “Dubai, and the following Tour of Qatar, are important races for the sprinters, because you have several good arrivals. I’m excited to start my season here and I’m looking forward to competing against the fastest riders in the world. I want to enter in this top club and get my first positive results of the new season.”

The team will also support Enrico Battaglin in the overall classification, and aim to get his the best possible placing on the event’s one uphill finish on Hotta Dam at the end of stage 3. Battaglin already has some early-season racing in his legs after competing with the Italian national team at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina in January.

Bardinai-CSF team for Dubai Tour: Enrico Battaglin, Nicola Boem, Andrea Piechele, Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Ruffoni, Paolo Simion, Luca Sterbini, Simone Sterbini.

Five WorldTour teams to start Trofeo Laigueglia

Organizers of the Trofeo Laigueglia announced that five WorldTour teams will participate in the event schedule for February 19 in Liguria, Italy. The 52nd edition of the race has secured UCI 1.HC status, up from a 1.1-level race, the first HC-level event of the season on the Europe Tour.

The WorldTour teams include AG2R La Mondiale, BMC, Cannondale-Garmin, Katusha and Lampre-Merida. There will also be nine Professional Continental teams with Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, Bretagne-Seche Environnement, Colombia, Cult Engery, Europcar, Novo Nordisk, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Southeast. The remaining Continental teams are MG.Kvis-Vega, Team Idea, Areazero, GM Cycling Team and UniEuro-Wilier. The Italian national team will also field a roster.

Craddock recovering from Tour Down Under crash

Giant-Alpecin’s American rider Lawson Craddock is at home in Texas recovering from a broken sternum, wrist and rib sustain in a crash during stage 4 from Glenelg to Mt Barkerat at the Tour Down Under.

“I’m doing a bit better," Craddock said in a team press release. "It has been a long couple of days in and out of the doctor’s office but things are coming together. The good thing is that surgery isn’t necessary which is a huge bonus. I’ve got a cast on my wrist to stabilise it now and the team's medical staff are keeping track of this.

"The longer issue is the sternum, which will take about six-weeks to fully heal, but hopefully the pain will subside in the coming weeks. From there I should be OK to get on the rollers to keep the legs turning. So given the situation it has been good news.”

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