Van der Breggen and Ligtlee given royal honours - News shorts

Van der Breggen and Ligtlee given royal honours

Olympic gold medallists Anna van der Breggen and Elis Ligtlee, have been made Knights in the Order of Orange Nassau in the Netherlands in honour of their success at the Rio Olympic Games. Van der Breggen, Ligtlee attended a ceremony at The Hague on Wednesday where they were presented with their honours by Sports Minister Edith Schippers.

Van der Breggen became the second consecutive Dutch rider to win the women's road race at the Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of teammate Marianne Vos. She bested Emma Johansson and Elisa Longo Borghini in a three-up sprint, after her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten crashed on a descent while in the race lead. Ligtlee claimed the Netherland's first gold on the track since the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing when Vos took victory in the points race. Ligtlee’s success came in the keirin, after she surprised some of the favourites with a sprint from the rear of the group.

Later this week, the pair will visit Dutch King Willem-Alexander along with the rest of the Dutch medallists including time trial silver medallist Tom Dumoulin, men's keirin runner up Mattijs Buchli and BMX silver medallist Jelle van Gorkom. Dumoulin had been favourite for the gold in the men's time trial ahead of the Olympics but broke his wrist in the final week of the Tour de France. Despite his injury, he made it to Rio and finished second to Fabian Cancellara.

Poels and Zardini to ride Tour of Britain

Last year's Tour of Britain runner up Wout Poels (Team Sky) and former leader's jersey wearer Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani CSF) are the latest to be confirmed for the week-long stage race.

Poels won the queen stage of the 2015 race and but was denied the overall victory by Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Dutchman finished just 13 seconds behind Boasson Hagen in the general classification. The Tour of Britain will be Poels' first race since the Olympic road race at the beginning of August.

Zardini's Bardiani CSF team was not present at last year's race. However, the young Italian spent a brief spell in the leader's jersey in his debut appearance at the Tour of Britain in 2014 following his stage win on the Tumble ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski.

"I had the chance to race the Tour of Britain only one time in my career and I have great memories. I took my second win as professional and I was honoured to wear the leader's jersey for one day. So far, it was one of the best moments of my career," Zardini said of his appearance.

"Compared to 2014, my 2016 season is not so great. I had serious injury in February and I had to stop for four months. I returned to race at the end of June and only my form grew at a good level. My aim is to be competitive in Britain but, honestly, I think it will be hard to repeat what I did two years ago. Anyway, I'll be one of the leader of Bardiani CSF and every one of us want to leave a mark on the race. I'll look to mountain stages and I'll try doing my best on that ground."

Food poisoning forces Benoot to miss Druivenkoers-Overijse

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) was supposed to make his racing return at Wednesday's Druivenkoers-Overijse but has been forced to skip the race after getting food poisoning during a training camp in Italy.

Benoot headed to Italy after his final race of the summer at the Classica San Sebastian last month but had to cut it short after getting ill. He will now have to wait until the weekend to race again and will then sit down with the team to plan the remainder of his season.

"I became ill in Livigno and had to come home early from food poisoning," Benoot said according to Het Nieuwsblad. "I'm barely two days back in training. It’s a shame, because I felt that I left the Tour of Poland well. I will now ride on Sunday in Plouay and will see how far I can go and talk to the team management how to proceed. Canadian double or further build up at the Tour of Britain with a view to the Worlds, I'd love to go.”

Slongo to coach Bahrain Merida team in 2017

The Bahrain Merida team has confirmed that Paolo Slongo will head the coaching staff at the new team in 2017, continuing his close relationship with Vincenzo Nibali.

The Bahrain Merida team also confirmed that Nibali's trusted personal soigneur Michele Pallini, veteran team doctor Emilio Magni and press officer Geoffrey Pizzorni, will all move across from Astana to Bahrain Merida for 2017.

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