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Former world champions Marianne Vos and Mathieu van der Poel headline the Dutch team selection set to race at the final UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup held in Hoogerheide on January 28. Vos and Van der Poel are preparing for the upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships held in Valkenburg on February 3 and 4, and will be aiming to return the rainbow bands to the Dutch after both finished second in the 2017 event in Bieles, Luxembourg. Van der Poel has enjoyed a superb 2017-2018 thus far, winning all but two of the World Cup rounds and already laying claim to the overall title. At the weekend, he dominated the Nommay World Cup, beating World Championship rival Wout van Aert by 33 seconds. He also sits second in the Superprestige rankings, one point behind Van Aert, after winning four of the six races so far. Van der Poel will be joined by his brother David, Lars van der Haar and Corné van Kessel in the eight-rider team.ADVERTISEMENT Vos has had a more challenging season, one which was marred by illness at the turn of the New Year. The 30-year-old has completed barely a handful of races and struggled at the GP Sven Nys on January 1. Upon advice from doctors, Vos decided to miss the national championships in an attempt to recover and has headed to Mallorca for a training camp before racing at the Hoogerheide World Cup this weekend. Lucinda Brand, Maud Kaptheijns and 2017 under-23 champion Annemarie Worst have been named alongside Vos in the women’s team, but 2016 world champion Thalita de Jong has missed out on a spot. De Jong has been battling with a knee injury that ruled her out of the defence of her title at last year’s World Championships. She returned to racing at the GP Sven Nys and scored two wins this weekend at the Kasteelcross and the Grand Prix Mobel Alvisse. She still has a shot at the World Championship team becuase spots will open up after the under-23 women are separated out from the elite women's team for that event. Dutch squad for UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup Hoogerheide
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South Africa's Daryl Impey surprised even himself when he won the UCI season-opening Tour Down Under on the streets of Adelaide, Australia, on Sunday.
Impey secured the biggest win of his career when he finished safely in the peloton behind stage winner Andre Greipel, who beat Impey's Mitchelton-SCOTT teammate Caleb Ewan with a lunge to the finish line.
Impey went into Sunday's final stage on the same time as pre-race favourite Richie Porte, but ahead of the Tasmanian on a count back. All he needed to do to secure the overall win was to finish safely, an outcome that appeared never to be in doubt on the 56-mile stage on the Adelaide street circuit.
Impey came into the race as the final lead-out rider for Ewan and was never expected to challenge for general classification. But his determined ride up Willunga Hill to finish second to Porte in Saturday's penultimate stage was enough to place him level on time with Porte and ahead on a count back because of his superior finishing positions in the earlier stages.
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"Coming into the race I didn't expect to win it, but sometimes the stars line up and everything goes well," he said. "I worked really hard in the off-season so I'm happy to get this win."
Impey said the final stage, 20 laps of a 2.8-mile street circuit, had been "pretty hectic" as a number of riders battled to improve their overall finishing positions.
"I've been in this position before with Simon [Gerrans], trying to protect the jersey for him, but it's definitely more nerve-wracking when you've got the jersey yourself," he said.
The 33-year-old won a stage of the Tour de France and wore the yellow jersey for two stages in 2013. He also won the 2009 Tour of Turkey and the 2014 Tour of Alberta, but Sunday's win was his first on the World Tour.
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He said the win, combined with Nicholas Dlamini's effort in taking the King of the Mountain title, was a boost for South African cycling.
"There's a lot more to expect from South Africans," he said. "I mean Nick Dlamini in his first race, the whole of South Africa can be proud of him."
Sunday's stage took on a familiar feel as small groups of riders tried to break away and go for individual glory. But every attack was reeled in and by lap 19, the race was all together as the teams came forward to try to put their sprinters in the best position.
On the tight circuit, the race became disorganized and many of the sprinters were left on their own.
Elia Viviani went early but was caught by Ewan and Peter Sagan, with Ewan powering clear only to be caught by a lunging Greipel on the line, the German winning his second stage of the race and his 18th overall.
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UCI president David Lappartient has said that he will not attend the 2018 Tour of Flanders following the organisation's decision to extend an invitation to Lance Armstrong to participate in a conference linked to the race. Lappartient previously wrote to Flanders Classics asking them to rescind their invitation to Armstrong, who is scheduled to appear at the ‘Tour of Flanders Business Academy’ event on the Friday preceding the Ronde. Armstrong will then be a guest of Tour of Flanders organiser Wouter Vandenhaut at the race on Sunday, although due to his life ban for doping, he will not travel in the race caravan and will instead watch at various points from the roadside.ADVERTISEMENT "I can't confiscate the American’s passport and prevent him from coming to Belgium," Lappartient told Het Nieuwsblad. "I understand that he could be invited as a conference speaker, and he will obviously attract a lot of attention, but this is not the image that we want to send out from cycling. We want to promote a clean sport, and Armstrong is not the symbol of that." Armstrong was handed a life ban for doping and stripped of his seven Tour de France victories in 2012 by the US Anti-Doping Agency after an investigation instigated by US federal agent Jeff Novitzky. The terms of Armstrong’s life ban prohibit him from taking part in or attending UCI-sanctioned events. Last year, the organisers of the Colorado Classic withdrew from an informal partnership with Armstrong’s new podcast venture. "He's not authorised to be in a race car since he is suspended for life," Lappartient said. “I'm not happy with this situation and have made it known to Wouter Vandenhaute. I will not attend the Ronde. I'll go to one race or another in Belgium at the start of the season, but I don't know which one yet."
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Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) may have been blocked from racing the Santos Tour Down Under due to administrative errors over his ADAMS Whereabouts, but the young Belgian has taken it in his stride and used his time in Australia to take in some warm-weather training. The 20-year-old will now make his WorldTour debut at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on January 28. Lambrecht was down to make his professional debut at the Tour Down Under and flew to Adelaide to take part in the race almost a fortnight ago. However, an administrative error meant that he was unable to compete as UCI rules state that all neo-pros must have a backlog of six weeks (42 days) of whereabouts data before they can race. According to Lotto Soudal, Lambrecht only received his login details for the system on December 15, with the message that he must log Whereabouts data as of December 17 – just 30 days before the start of the Tour Down Under. The UCI would not provide the rider with special dispensation and, instead of racing the Tour Down Under, he rode the majority of the stages ahead of the peloton. “You can cry in bed but that doesn’t help. It’s better to just train and look to the future,” Lambrecht told a small group of journalists, including Cyclingnews, during the race.ADVERTISEMENT “I was really looking forward to my first WorldTour race. There are more races coming and I’ll train here and hope to be good at the Cadel Evans race. “It was a mistake from the UCI, I think. They gave me my login too late, and that’s a little bit shit for me. It’s really annoying and if they had told me before arriving in Australia it would have been much better because I could have ridden the Mallorca Challenge. Now we’re here in Australia. I only found that there was a problem a few days ago.” Although he flew to Adelaide with his teammates and shared a room with Lars Bak during the race, Lambrecht has been forced to focus on the Cadel Evans Race, which takes place next weekend. “You’re hoping everyday that it could be okay but I knew it was difficult to start. It’s very hard to hear that you can’t start but there are more races in the future. I’ll look to Cadel’s race and see that the condition is better and hopefully get a good result there.” The young Belgian found the positives from a disappointing situation and each morning he travelled to the stage starts before riding off ahead of the race. “Without a GPS I think I’d still be out there riding,” he joked. “It’s always nicer to race than train on your own but I could see the riders on the screen at times. “It’s always something special with me. They always say that a good career has to start with something special, so I’ve succeeded. It was hard mentally but the weather at home is cold and raining and you can’t go outside much at the moment. In a few months I might be able to laugh about it but not at the moment.” 
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Fernando Gaviria has picked up his love affair with Argentinean races where it left off last year, when he won two stages at the Vuelta a San Juan. On Sunday, the 23-year-old claimed stage 1 of the 2018 edition of the race in Pocito with a dominant display of sprinting prowess, easily outpacing the competition and laying down the gauntlet for his rivals over the coming week. Gaviria blasted into professional cycling’s consciousness in 2015 at the Tour de San Luis, beating Mark Cavendish twice in the race and later signing a contract with Quick-Step, Cavendish’s team at the time. He returned to San Luis in 2016 and took out another stage, then added a brace of wins in last year’s Vuelta a San Juan. Asked how he’s developed as a sprinter since his first breakthrough win at San Luis, the Colombian said it was all attitude and hard work.ADVERTISEMENT "I always want to win," Gaviria said in the press conference after stage 1. "I always try to win, and I always try to do things well. Three years ago when I came here in Tour de San Luis I won two stages and then when [Peter] Sagan was here I also won. "I always ride to win. It’s the only thing in my mind. In all the races that I have a number on my back I always want to try to win." And win he does. The talented speedster has piled up 24 more wins since his heady days of beating Cavendish in 2015, blossoming into one of cycling’s top sprinters and seizing the reins at Quick-Step after first Cavendish and then Marcel Kittel moved on.
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At an informal sit down with the press at the Tour Down Under, UCI president David Lappartient confirmed the governing body's on-going fight against mechanical doping. An announcement regarding new initiatives and technologies was initially slated for the end of January but will now be made in March with a demonstration by the UCI. During his election campaign in the lead up to September's presidential elections and following his victory, Lappartient has remained committed to stamping out mechanical doping from cycling. The UCI's tablet scanning of bikes before and after races remains its number one method for now but from March, sophisticated changes are coming as Lappartient explained "It has been a little bit delayed because we were supposed to probably make the announcement at the end of January," Lappartient said of the developments.ADVERTISEMENT "We can do this but I prefer to make the announcement with the demonstration with what we will do. This will probably be in the middle of March. What I can tell you is that we are ready and we know what we will do. We will have five different ways to fight and of course we have been working very hard with Bob Stapleton, the chairman of the equipment material, plus Jean-Christophe Péraud who has been involved in this. "We will be ready for this but nevertheless in the meantime, I would say between now and mid-March, we will continue to use the current system we have. Plus, some other systems but we will be really ready after mid-March." The cost of the UCI's investment in new technologies and testing methods is estimated at €500,00 per-year by Lappartient. The methods are set to include tablets, x-rays, thermal cameras and the dismantling bikes to check for hidden motors.
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The organisers of the Tour of Flanders have declined rescind their invitation to Lance Armstrong to appear at the race this year. According to Het Nieuwsblad, race promoter Wouter Vandenhaut says the disgraced American will not have an official function in the event, and will not follow the race itself. Vandenhaut confirmed that UCI President David Lappartient asked him about the plan to include Armstrong in the festivities, but did not pressure him to withdraw the invitation. "I first informed David Lappartient about my plan to invite Armstrong at an informal meeting in Montreux in early December," Vandenhaut said to Het Nieuwsblad. "I knew it was not obligatory, but given my constructive attitude with the UCI, it was logical to inform them immediately. David then listened to my story. Two weeks later he sent a letter with a number of questions in a friendly tone. I replied politely."ADVERTISEMENT Vandenhaut says that the UCI president reminded him of the rules regarding the participation of banned athletes in UCI-sanctioned events. Armstrong was banned for life by the US Anti-Doping Agency and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles before he finally admitted to having doped to claim those victories. Under the ban, Armstrong has been prevented from having even informal partnerships with races like the Colorado Classic, at which he was due to present his podcast until the organisers rescinded their invitation last year. The Tour of Flanders organisation intends to respect the rules, Vandenhaut said. Armstrong has been invited to address the Tour of Flanders Business Academy on Friday, but will not participate in the Tour of Flanders cyclosportif on Saturday. On Sunday he will follow the race as a guest, but not in an official capacity.
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Following a season that was plagued with illness and injury and that limited him to just 28 race days in 2017, Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) is hoping to start his "comeback" this week at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina. The 28-year-old Italian sprinter suffered through a nightmare season last year, delaying his start until the Tour of Croatia in April because of lingering knee pain from tendinitis. He went from Croatia to the Giro d'Italia in May, taking third in the stage 3 sprint but then abandoning before stage 11 because of pollen allergies and a lack of form because of his late start. Nizzolo returned for the Hammer Series in June, taking a stage win and finishing 10th overall, but he was unable to defend his Italian championship later that month, abandoning the race in Asti. He failed to finish San Sebastian in July, and then after another break returned to racing at the end of the season at the Tour of Guangxi in late October.ADVERTISEMENT It's the kind of season that could shake any rider's confidence, and Nizzolo acknowledged the difficulty of remaining confident of his ability in the face of so much adversity. "It's not easy, honestly," Nizzolo told Cyclingnews Sunday ahead of the stage 1 start of the Vuelta a San Juan. "You have to look inside and find the balance, which is not easy to find. But still you have to look back at what you did, what you were able to do, and starting from that, you keep working and keep working. Taking on Gaviria Dreaming of Milan-San Remo
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The Israel-Cycling Academy have described their wildcard invitation to the Giro d'Italia as "a historic moment for Israeli sports and a great honour," promising to now target a stage victory and to place a team leader "high on the GC". Giro d'Italia organizer RCS Sport revealed the four wildcard teams invited to the this year's race on Saturday, with Israel-Cycling Academy, Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF and Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia securing the much sought after places in the first Grand Tour of the season. For a second year, there was no place for Nippo-Vini Fantini, with the Irish squad Aqua Blue Sport also missing out. The Israel-Cycling Academy team was also invited to Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo.ADVERTISEMENT With the 101st edition of the Giro d'Italia starting in Israel on May 4, the Israel-Cycling Academy team was widely expected to obtain a wildcard invitation, especially after boosting its 24-rider roster for 2018 by adding Ben Herman from BMC, Kristian Sbaragli from Dimension Data and Tour de France stage winner Ruben Plaza from Orica-Scott. "Israel Cycling Academy earned this selection with our excellent team, including seasoned riders who have secured victories in two of the three Grand Tours," team owner Sylvan Adams, who is also the honorary president of the Giro d'Italia 'Big Start' in Israel, said in a statement from the team. "We now expect to add a stage win in this year's Giro and to place a team leader high on the GC. These are our goals in this year's Giro and we wish to thank the race organizer RCS, for handing us this opportunity."
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