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  1. Ewan targeting early Australian races to kickstart 2018 season

    Orica-Scott sprinter Caleb Ewan is hoping success in Australia will kickstart his 2018 season, saying he'd like to leave his home country at the end of January with a few wins already in his pocket.

    The 23-year-old speedster will start his season at the Australian Cycling Road National Championships during the first week of January, then he'll face WorldTour competition at the Tour Down Under and then finish his opening Australian swing at Race Melbourne.

    Ewan won the criterium title last year at the Australian championships, and he's hoping to repeat that title while adding another on the road.

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    “I’m definitely going into the criterium to try to defend my title," he said in a team press release. "We should have a really good team there, so I think we have a pretty good chance."

    Although Ewan is the hands-down favourite to repeat in the criterium, the road race is a different challenge with a few hills to overcome before the finish. Ewan abandoned the race last year after Jack Bobridge went on a successful solo flyer that blew apart the race, which saw only 15 riders finish.

    “For the road race, we have a fair few options," Ewan said. "For me, I’m hoping the race is a little bit easier, with a headwind up the climb to slow the race down going up the hill so I can get to the finish for some sort of sprint. But as a team we have options for every race scenario.”

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. Olivier Le Court de Billot creating history for Mauritius at the Tour of Rwanda

    Rolling out of the start house at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning in Kigali, Olivier Le Court de Billot (Mauritian National Team) made history as the first Mauritian to start the Tour of Rwanda. The 24-year-old was also the first rider to start the 3.3km prologue around the Amaroo Stadium and duly slotted into the hot seat as the virtual race leader.

    While favoured by the early start, the time of Le Court de Billot, the brother of former national women's champion Kimberley, held up as he eventually finished in 12th place at 12 seconds to winner Jean Bosco Nsengimana (Rwanda National Team).

    "It was short and hard. I like the type of effort so I just gave it my all. It was a bit too flat for me but I still went full gas and I hope it will stay like until the end," Le Court de Billot explained to Cyclingnews after his early-morning effort.

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    "At the finish, I tried to look up and I thought I was in the finish of a Tour de France stage [with the crowd]. It was magic."

    In the overall context of the race, the short-and-fast prologue is unlikely to decide the yellow jersey, although the 3.3km course offered a glimpse into which riders have arrived in Kigali in good condition. Le Court de Billot's strengths come to the fore when the roads head uphill, and with a main course of climbing to be served up in the seven road stages, he is hoping to carry his prologue form into the hills.

    "For the race, we prepared with the team and we went to the Pyrenees, because I live in France, to train in the mountains," he said. "The time trial I didn't train too much because I didn't have a bike. The team gave me a bike yesterday. The bike suits me well so it was fine."

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. CCC Sprandi Polkowice signs Szymon Sajnok

    Szymon Sajnok signed a two-year deal with CCC Sprandi Polkowice, completing Polish second tier team’s roster for 2018.

    The 20-year-old competes both on the road and on track and is widely considered one of the most talented endurance track riders of his generation.

    In 2016, aged just 19, Sajnok took silver in the omnium at European Track Championships in espoirs category and claimed victories in omnium competitions during  Track World Cup rounds in Apeldoorn and Los Angeles, topping the overall classification, too. On track he is also a member of a recently rebuilt Polish endurance team that eyes Olympic Games in Tokyo and has recently broken the four minute mark in team pursuit.

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    On the road, Sajnok had a rocky start with a Continental squad Attaque Team Gusto. This year he participated in a number of stage races, claiming the prologue of Tour of Kumano (2.2) and sprinting to third in one of Tour of Qinghai Lake (2.HC) sprint finishes.

    “I want to develop as a road rider but I hope that this will also ensure my progress on track. CCC Sprandi Polkowice is an established group and I hope everything works out” – Sajnok said in an official team press release.

    Having signed the Kartuzy-born rider, CCC Sprandi Polkowice is set to race with 20 riders in the coming season. While the overall number decreased only by two, the team has undergone a major reshuffle, seeing Felix Grosschartner, Jan Hirt and Maciej Paterski leave. The Austrian and the Czech signed with Bora-hansgrohe and Astana respectively, while Paterski’s contract was not renewed after parties failed to reach an agreement.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Valente takes 'incredible' World Cup Omnium win

    Jennifer Valente (United States) claimed gold in the women’s omnium at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Manchester, building on her silver medal from a week earlier in Poland.

    At the second round of the World Cup in Manchester, Valente, 22, went head-to-head against home favourite and world champion Katie Archibald (Great Britain) and Denmark’s Amalie Dideriksen. In a nail-biting finale, it was Valente who came out on top, wining with 139 points to Archibald’s 134. Dideriksen was forced to settle for bronze.

    “It’s an incredible result and it certainly exceeded by my expectations,” Valente told Cyclingnews ahead of an early flight home to the US on Sunday morning.

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    “I looked at how I was riding each race over the last two weekends, and tried to take as much information as possible from each situation. Going home with a silver and a gold is really incredible.”

    Valente has a strong background in track racing and has come through the ranks at USA Cycling, picking up medals at national and world championship level. She was also part of the women’s team pursuit squad that won silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. However, London represented a new chapter in her blossoming career, and marked her first individual world cup win.

    “It’s a little bit of a turning point, having done so much team pursuit in the last couple of years, but I’m excited to see how it goes looking forward. The Olympics are always the long term goal, and I have great teammates in the pursuit and that’s still a priority.”

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Peter Sagan’s Tour de France DQ case heads to CAS in December

    Peter Sagan’s case against the UCI over his disqualification from the 2017 Tour de France will appear in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on December 5. The news of the hearing was confirmed when the CAS posted a schedule of upcoming hearing on their official website.

    Listed as “Peter Sagan & Denk Pro Cycling GmbH & Co. KG v. Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)”, the case stems from the Tour de France when the three-time world champion was ejected from the race following a high-profile and controversial crash involving Dimension Data rider Mark Cavendish.

    The incident took place during the sprint finish for stage 4, and left Cavendish out of the race with a broken shoulderblade. Sagan was initially docked 30 seconds and 80 points in the Green Jersey competition. However, upon further video analysis, the jury announced the new decision to the media. Several other riders were also taken down in the fall, while Arnaud Demare (FDJ) went on to win the stage.

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    "We've decided to disqualify Peter Sagan from the Tour de France 2017 after the tumultuous sprint, here in Vittel. He endangered multiple riders, Mark Cavendish and others who were implicated in the crash, in the final meters of the sprint," an official from the race jury announced. "We applied article 12.104, irregular sprints, in which case commissaires are allowed to enforce a judgement to disqualify a rider and amend a fine."

    The morning after his disqualification Sagan told a gathering of journalists that he reluctantly accepted the decision. "What can I do? I can just accept the decision of the jury but for sure I don't agree with them because I think I didn't do something wrong in the sprint.”

    Two days after the incident Bora-Hansgrohe announced that they, along with Sagan, had lodged an appeal with CAS to overturn the decision in order to see their sprinter re-instated in the race. The team’s claim appeared to be based on UCI’s decision not to allow Sagan to make a personal defence at the time. The re-instatement obviously never took place but the case against the UCI has rumbled on.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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