News shorts: Valverde and Contador out of Beijing, Jones to Giant-Shimano

Contador ends season with hurt knee

After the much-hyped WorldTour battle between Alejandro Valverde and Alberto Contador fizzled in a crash in the final bend of Il Lombardia, Contador will not be taking part in the Tour of Beijing.

The Spaniard announced via Twitter that the knee that he injured in the Tour de France and crashed on again in Bergamo on Sunday was causing him too much pain to pedal his bike. "I don't go to China," he said. "Next thing is to do a MRI to know how the knee is and start thinking on 2015."

Contador was leading Valverde in the WorldTour individual rankings by 21 points before Lombardia, but after Valverde came in second to winner Daniel Martin in Bergamo, he took a 66-point lead in the rankings. Now that Contador has called an end to his season, it is not clear whether Valverde will make the long trip to Beijing.

Tinkoff-Saxo released a statement from Contador that said, “Ending the year like this - it's something I don’t like because I had a schedule and had to interrupt it again. The Tour of Beijing is not among the most important races on the calendar but what worries me now is the knee. So I want to stop and be sure it is in good condition to start next year with full guarantees."

Valverde skips Tour of Beijing; Spaniard unofficially wins the WorldTour title

Shortly after Alberto Contador announced that he would not be participating at the Tour of Beijing because of a recent knee injury, rival and WorldTour standings leader, Alejandro Valverde also pulled out of the series finale.

Valverde jumped ahead of Contador in the WorldTour standings after placing second and picking up 80 points at Il Lombardia on Sunday. He is leading the WorldTour ranks with a total of 686 points, 66 points more than runner-up Contador and 208 points more than Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) in third, and has unofficially won the title ahead of the WorldTour finale Tour of Beijing set to start on Friday.

Eros Capecchi will replace Valverde on the Movistar team roster, which also includes Beñata Intxausti, Jasha Sütterlin, Giovanni Visconti, Dayer Quintana, Pablo Lastras, Enrique Sanz and Jesus Herrada.

Carter Jones to Giant-Shimano

The Giant-Shimano team has signed the promising young climber Carter Jones from the Optum Pro Cycling team, who will join fellow Americans Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga in the Dutch team, which will be sponsored by Alpecin in 2015.

Jones, 25, impressed in the major US races this season, winning the overall Tour of the Gila, coming just outside the top 10 in the Tour of California and 8th in the USA Pro Challenge and 7th at Tour of Utah.

Team Giant-Shimano coach Marc Reef sees Jones as a valuable support rider for Warren Barguil and Tom Dumoulin in the coming year. "Carter is a talented climber that we have been following for the past two seasons," Reef said. "There's still progression possible with an improved race program and also the opportunities to develop his time trialing working with the experts on our team, and to improve as a GC rider himself.

"I am really looking forward to joining the team and the race program," Jones said. "I have heard great things from Lawson Craddock and Chad Haga about the team, and that is what you see from the outside too - riders making steps forward in their careers.

"I would like to gain experience in the WorldTour and to support Barguil and Dumoulin, while also developing as a rider - the most important goal next season for me is to gain experience. My current director Jonas Carney has been instrumental in supporting me in helping me step up to the WorldTour and I thank him and the team for this opportunity."

Abbott to Wiggle Honda

Wiggle Honda today announced the signing of American Mara Abbott. Also joining the squad is Anna Christian, from Great Britain.

Abbott rode this year with UnitedHealthcare, mixing a domestic programme with a few European races, but plans to pursue a full European calendar next season.

“I am absolutely thrilled by the line-up of teammates, and the chance to work with a rider as strong and proven as Elisa Longo Borghini is going to be really amazing.

“I have been so impressed by the organisation and attention to personal desires and strengths of riders already,” Abbott added. “I know this is going to be a team I will be very proud to represent and I can't wait for the season to begin.”

Orica-GreenEdge brings well-rounded team to Beijing

Orica-GreenEdge is bringing a team of climbers and sprinters to the upcoming Tour of Beijing, the final event on the WorldTour, held from October 10 to 14.

The race is expected to showcase multiple sprint stages where the services of neo-pro Caleb Ewan will be an asset. The Australian youngster signed on as a stagiaire for the 2014 season, and although he rode with the team at the Prudential Ride London, he will be an official member of the team in Beijing.

“I am excited to race again for Orica-GreenEdge for what is officially my first race as a neo-pro,” Ewan said. “It’s really great to know the team are already putting their faith in me in the finishes and I hope to be able to continue on from the World Championships to deliver for them.”

The team will field three general classification contenders with Daryl Impey, Estaban Chaves and Simon Yates.

“The two goals for us in Beijing are to support Caleb as much as possible in those three or four sprint stages and also to help Esteban Chaves and Simon Yates to ride a very good quality general classification.”

The rest of the team includes Samuel Bewley, Mathew Hayman, Brett Lancaster and Pieter Weening.

Dutchman Koning to Drapac

Peter Koning has made the jump up to the Professional Continental ranks after signed a two-year contract with Drapac for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

“It’s going to be a completely new experience in a new environment,” Koning said. “Of course, it will be a step-up from where I have raced in but I am confident that I am capable of the challenge.

Koning, 23, is a former junior and under 23 national time trial champion. The team will put his skills to use in the time trials and team lead-outs in the sprints.

USA Cycling adds a team time trial national title

USA Cycling rolled out its calendar of 2015 national championships today, announcing that the US Pro criterium championships will move to Greenville, South Carolina. The race will take place on April 18-19, and will also include a team time trial national championship event.

The TTT will be for both professional an amateur teams, but the announcement did not specify whether there would be separate titles for the pro's and elites or a combined event.

The US Pro criterium championships have suffered in recent years by an ever-changing date and venue. Formerly ensconced in Downer's Grove, Illinois, since moving around the country and shifting later in the season, the race has come into conflict with the expanding pro men's stage race circuit.

This year's event in High Point, NC conflicted with the Tour of Alberta and only 45 pro men took the start.


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