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  • Energy company Santos has extended its sponsorship of the Tour Down Under for a further three years, the organisers have confirmed. The new deal sees Santos remain the title sponsor of the WorldTour opener until at least 2022. Santos has been the naming rights sponsor of the Tour Down Under, Australia's biggest race on the UCI calendar, since 2010. This year's edition marked a decade of the partnership and was won by Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) - who became the first rider to win back to back editions of the men's race - ahead of home rider Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Wout Poels (Team Sky). The company has also sponsored the Women's Tour Down Under, which was won by Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) for the third time, since its inception in 2012. The women's race has grown dramatically since its first outing as a series of criteriums and this year saw the strongest field to date. The organisers reiterated their ambition to add the event to the UCI's Women's WorldTour calendar. The men's race has been part of the UCI WorldTour since 2008.ADVERTISEMENT "We are thrilled that Santos has committed to extend its partnership with the Tour Down Under...

  • Jan Bakelants had taken several strides toward returning to be the rider he once was before a crash at Il Lombardia in 2017 derailed his career and left him recovering from series injuries. The Belgian heads into the 2019 season healthy and excited about his prospects with Team Sunweb where he will bring expertise to the younger riders, and versatility in one-day races and Grand Tours. "I look forward to 2019," Bakelants said in an interview with Sporza. "I am happy with this move and glad that I ended up here, and I'm hopeful about 2019." Bakelants started his career with Topsport Vlaanderen in 2008 and then joined the WorldTour ranks with Omega Pharma-Lotto two years later. He spent two years at RadioShack, went back to Omega Pharma for one season before signing on with AG2R La Mondiale, where he had raced for the last four seasons.ADVERTISEMENT His crash at Il Lombardia at the end of 2017 left him with two broken vertebrae and several broken ribs. He was still recovering heading into the 2018 season but began to make more significant strides mid-summer with sixth place at Grand Prix Cerami and respectable performances at the Tour...

  • Wout van Aert and Toon Aerts have been named as team leaders of the Belgian men's squad for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, in the hope that one of them can take on and beat the dominant Mathieu van der Poel. Sanne Cant will lead the women's squad as she targets another world title, with Loes Sels, Ellen Van Loy and Laura Verdonschot also selected. Eli Iserbyt leads the men's under-23 team, while Thibau Nys - the son of two-time world champion Sven Nys - is part of the men's junior team. This year's Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held in Bogense, Denmark on the weekend of February 2-3, with a circuit that looks out over the sea. The elite women's race will be held on Saturday and the elite men's event on Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT Belgium can field seven riders and could add an eighth place if Toon Aerts wins the UCI World Cup series at next week's final race in Hoogerheide. Belgian national coach Sven Vanthourenhout confirmed that Tim Merlier, rather than Thijs Aerts, will be Belgian's eighth rider if Aerts completes his control of the World Cup series. Aerts beat Van Aert to win the...

  • Paris-Roubaix organiser ASO have awarded seven invitations to the 2019 edition of the race, which takes place on April 14. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won Paris-Roubaix in 2018, his second monument victory. All five French Pro Continental teams have been assigned wildcards. Cofidis, already invited to the 2019 Tour de France, will be joined at the start of Paris-Roubaix by Delko Marseille Provence, Direct Energie, Team Arkea-Samsic and Vital Concept – B&B Hotels. ASO opted to also invite the five French teams to Paris-Nice.  The two remaining wildcard berths have been awarded to Wanty-Gobert Cycling and the revamped Roompot-Charles team, formed following the Dutch squad’s merger with Veranda’s Willems-Crelan during the off-season. ADVERTISEMENT All 18 WorldTour teams will also be on the start line in Compiègne and, as was the case in 2018, all teams will field 7 riders. With the UCI set to roll out reforms of the WorldTour structure in 2020, this season marks the final year in which race organisers are free to choose all of their wildcards. From 2020, the three best-ranked Professional Continental teams will have the right – though not the obligation – to participate in the Classics, while the top two...

  • Movistar have confirmed that world champion Alejandro Valverde will make his 2019 season debut at the Challenge Mallorca race series at the end of January. The veteran Spaniard has often begun his season on the Spanish island, opting for the low-key one-day races over other early-season events. In 2018, he finished third in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, won by Tim Wellens, and was fourth in the Trofeo Lloseta – Andratx, won by Toms Skujiņš. Movistar did not confirm their roster for the four-day race series and are expected to select different teams for each race from a squad that includes Mikel Landa, Andrey Amador, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Carlos Verona, Daniele Bennati and new signing Jurgen Roelandts. The four Challenge Mallorca races will be held between January 31 and February 3. The four race routes are hillier than in recent years with the opening race to Felanitx finishing atop the climb of Puig de Sant Salvador. The Andratx Trophy-Lloseta rolls up and down the northern coast, while the Serra de Tramuntana Trophy finishes above Soller after 2,800 metres of climbing. Even the final Playa de Palma Trophy race includes a late climb before the dash to the...

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