News shorts: Stybar to race four cyclo-cross events

Stybar to ride four cross races

After initially stating that he would skip the cyclo-cross season entirely, Zdenek Stybar is set to ride four races in two weeks over the Christmas period.

According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the three-time cyclo-cross world champion has sent off applications to the Bpost bank trofee races in Antwerp (December 19), Loenhout (December 29), and Baal (January 1), along with the Soudal Classics in Leuven on January 3. There is also the possibility that he will add other races to that list.

Stybar and his Etixx-QuickStep team announced in October that the Czech rider would skip the cross season due to fatigue built up over the course of a heavy season and the need to be fresh for the road in 2016. It was set to be the first time the 29-year-old, who has been scaling back his cross commitments since switching to the road in 2011, had intentionally missed a whole season, after last year’s campaign was disrupted by injury.

Pro Continental licence confirmed for Cult Energy

The Cult Energy– Stölting Group announced today that the UCI confirmed its Pro Continental licence for 2016 after a procedural review conducted by the UCI and Ernst & Young.

“The registration was a time-consuming process, and we are happy that we have now received the official confirmation from the UCI that the application has been accepted, said Cult Energy – Stölting Group CEO Christian Große Kreul. "We were delayed in getting some of the paperwork from external parties, because the team came together quite late, but after it was submitted the team received the green light from the UCI."

The Danish Cult Energy merged with the German Continental Team Stölting to remain in the division two ranks for 2016. The squad brought in several big name riders including former Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek and Olympic omnium champion Lasse Norman Hansen. Linus Gerdemann and Fabian Wegmann remain from this year's Cult Energy team, while Team Stölting contributes Lennard Kämna, the bronze medalist in the U23 world championship time trial.

“We are proud of our roster for the 2016 season,” Große Kreul said. “We have some very talented young riders on our roster, combined with highly experienced riders who have proven their class on the highest level. We are putting a lot of effort into our youth riders and giving them a strong structure and surroundings to develop their skills. We believe that this rich mix of experience and youth will bring added value to the world of cycling."

The team will be presented in Mallorca at the end of January.

Cult Energy-Stölting Group for 2016: Michael Carbel Svendgaard, Gerald Ciolek, Linus Gerdemann, Rasmus Guldhammer, Lasse Norman Hansen, Alexander Kamp, Lennard Kämna, Alex Kirsch, Thomas Koep, Romain Lemarchand, Christian Mager, Mads Pedersen, Rasmus Quaade, Michael Reihs, Sven Reutter, Jonas Tenbrock, Fabian Wegmann.

Elevate to become newest US Continental team for 2016, signs Schmalz, Kyer

The US professional peloton will add a new team in 2016 called Elevate Pro Cycling. The Texas squad is in its sixth season, and its second year with sponsor Elevate Cycling. The team signed Julian Kyer from the now defunct Smartstop squad, and Joe Schmalz from the Hincapie Development team.

Also joining the team is Connor Brown, 20, winner of the Division I Collegiate National Road Race this year.

Continuing with the program as it joins the professional ranks is New Zealander Heath Blackgrove, who will also act as sports director with Logan Hutchings.

The team will focus its 2016 season on UCI, NRC stage races and road races, with a few NRC criteriums and events in Texas as well.

Elevate Pro Cycling for 2016: Zack Allison, Heath Blackgrove, Connor Brown (U23), Alberto Covarrubias (U23), Logan Hutchings, Colton Jarisch, Julian Kyer, Nicholas Torraca (U23), Joseph Schmalz, Mitchell Sides, Matt Stephens.

Wanty secure ASO invitations to the Middle East

Wanty-Groupe Gobert will make its debut in the Middle East in 2016 after securing wildcards from ASO for the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman.

The two races, running from February 8-12 and 16-22 respectively, are seen as good preparation for the spring Classics – the races that are most important to the Belgian Pro Continental outfit. Though the Tour of Oman is hilly, Qatar is largely flat and windy and makes for a hard and aggressive style racing that wouldn’t ordinarily be associated with the early season.

"These races have a very high level with lots of WorldTour teams. The climate in the Gulf is great in February. It's two weeks of great racing,” said the team’s captain Marco Marcato. "After the stages you can train extra kilometres because of the great climate. Qatar and Oman are races where you can really build on your form for the Spring Classics."

Though the team has been invited to ASO races in the past, such as Paris-Roubaix, this new step could open the door for more entries in the future and may aid the team in its ambition to make a Grand Tour debut, with two of the three run by ASO.

"This is a step forward for the team which starts its sixth year in the ProContinental division,” said directeur sportif Hilaire Van Der Schueren. “ASO is a big organisation and they reward us for our attractive and attacking style of racing."

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