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  1. Coquard confirmed as leader of new Vital Concept team

    Former French rider Jérôme Pineau has confirmed Vital Concept as a title sponsor of his new Professional Continental team and announced Bryan Coquard as team leader, with the goal to secure a wild card invitation to the 2018 Tour de France.

    Pineau has been working on the team for several months and has an estimated budget of €6 million. He has signed 15 riders and will hire a further five riders to complete the team’s 20-rider roster.

    Vital Concept is a retailer of agricultural and gardening products. It sponsored the Fortuneo team until this year’s Tour de France but split to join forces with Pineau. The Fortuneo team secured Oscaro as a second sponsor and has signed Warren Barguil for 2018. Both teams are based in Brittany, with Vital Concept working with the VC Pays de Loudéac, one of the strongest teams in Brittany when it comes to developing young riders.

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    The creation of the Vital Concept team means there will be five French Professional Continental teams fighting for the expected four wild card invitations to the Tour de France, though the reduction to eight-man teams in 2018 potentially affords ASO some leeway to award a fifth wild card.

    “We want to start winning as soon as possible,” Pineau said during the official presentation of the team at the Vital Concept offices in Loudéac. “We hope to take part in the biggest race and our goal is to be at the 2018 Tour de France.”

    Coquard joins as team leader after a difficult divorce from the Direct Energie team. He told Jean-Rene Bernaudeau that he wanted to quit the Vendee-based squad in the spring and was not selected for the Tour de France.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. Contador Foundation to manage Trek-Segafredo development team

    Alberto Contador’s post-career legacy is beginning to take shape, and his longstanding foundation will take on the management of a Trek-Segafredo development squad. The team will race at Continental level and has secured three-year sponsorship from clothing company Polartec and food company Kometa.

    Contador’s former teammate and directeur sportif at Trek-Segafredo, Ivan Basso, will be the manager of the team, while Contador’s brother Fran will look after the administrative management. Contador, who will finally hang up his racing wheels after the forthcoming Vuelta a Espana, set up his foundation five years ago with the express intent of developing young talent and this, says the 34-year-old, is a further step towards that.

    "What has united Ivan and me in this project is the dream of giving back to cycling a little of everything that it has given us,” said Contador. “We are convinced that by joining forces we can do much more to help young people to reach a professional level.

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    “Thanks to Polartec and Kometa, along with the fundamental support of Trek-Segafredo, where I feel like at home, the Alberto Contador Foundation, directed by my brother Fran, takes a very important step and adds a continental team to the existing school and the junior and U23 teams, which will continue to form the young riders in the values embodied in cycling: teamwork, solidarity, perseverance and sacrifice."

    The team will, the press release says, "aim to offer an opportunity for professional training for young people from both the Contador Foundation and other European and world schools." It will be based in Pinto, the headquarters of the foundation and the hometown of Contador and they will, of course, ride on Trek bikes and will receive support from the Trek Factory Racing set-up. As well as being based in Pinto, the team’s second home will be in Bormio, where they will complete many of their team training camps.

    "This team is the realisation of a professional dream that Alberto and me have matured for a long time, after sharing many experiences as cyclists and friends,” said Basso, who has already been working in a developmental role at Trek-Segafredo. “We wanted to create something together, and I am happy and proud to have achieved this thanks to the support of Trek-Segafredo, who for a year has given me the responsibility to follow the young talent linked to its team.”

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. De la Cruz signs for Team Sky

    David de la Cruz will join fellow Spaniard Jonathan Castroviejo in the colours of Team Sky next season. De la Cruz, who is set to lead Quick-Step Floors at the Vuelta a Espana this month, had been heavily linked with the British WorldTour team.

    “I’m excited to be joining the team. I’ve really enjoyed my time at Quick-Step but I definitely feel that, at this point in my career, Team Sky is the best place for me to progress and to be the best rider I can be,” De la Cruz said in a press release issued by Team Sky.

    “I think the team understand my skills as a rider and what I can offer to the team, so I’m really happy to be joining Team Sky and I am looking forward to this new challenge.”

    De la Cruz has long been seen as a stage race contender with plenty of potential.

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    After turning professional with Caja Rural in 2010, he moved to NatApp-Endura for two years later before he was snapped up by Quick-Step Floors in 2015. After enduring a lot of bad fortune at Grand Tours, De la Cruz made his breakthrough at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, where he won stage 9 and finished seventh overall. He will ride this year’s Vuelta a Espana with Quick-Step floors despite changing teams next season.

    This season, De la Cruz has taken stage wins at Paris-Nice and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. Illness hampered the middle part of his season but he returned with a successful Vuelta a Burgos where he finished third behind Team Sky’s Mikel Landa and his teammate Enric Mas. With several riders leaving for other teams, including Landa, Mikel Nieve and Peter Kennaugh, De la Cruz is an important signing for the team’s Grand Tour line-up.

    “He is another really versatile rider who can perform a lot of roles, but he climbs very well and he has had some excellent results on really tough mountain stages, like at the Vuelta a Espana and at Paris Nice. I’m sure he will fit straight in at Team Sky,” said Team Sky coach Xabi Artexte.

    Focusing on the Vuelta with Quick-Step floors

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Castroviejo joins Team Sky from Movistar for 2018

    Team Sky have confirmed the signing of current Spanish national time trial champion Jonathan Castroviejo as the British WorldTour team continues to strengthen its stage racing roster for 2018, when Chris Froome will target a fifth Tour de France victory.

    Team Sky has extended contracts with Chris Froome, Michal Kwiatkowski, Geraint Thomas and key domestique Christian Knees in recent weeks but had still to reveal its new signings for 2018 after Pete Kennaugh joined Bora-Hansgrohe, Mikel Nieve moved to Orica-Scott, Ian Boswell switched to Katusha-Alpecin and Elia Viviani was allowed to transfer to Quick-Step Floors despite another year on his contract. Castroviejo is Team Sky’s first new signing, with news of the arrival of David de la Cruz quickly following.

    Team Sky and Castroviejo agreed a deal during the Tour de France but waited until today to make it official. The 30-year-old from Getxo, has spent the last six seasons with Movistar, where he helped Nairo Quintana win the 2014 Giro d’Italia, and the 2016 Vuelta a Espana. He was also the 2016 European time trial champion and finished third in the time trial 2016 Road World Championships. All his eight career victories have come in time trials, making him a key rider for Grand Tours that include team time trails.

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    “Everybody knows the strength in the team, and how important the spirit between the riders is to the team’s success. I’m really looking forward to being part of that, bringing my own experience and learning new things,” Castroviejo said in a statement from Team Sky.

    “I have been part of Grand Tour winning teams in the past and I want to do that again in the future. I’m happy to be taking this next step with Team Sky.”

    Spanish Team Sky coach Xabi Artexte highlighted Castroviejo’s versatility as a rider.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Quintana confirms he will stay at Movistar and target 2018 Tour de France

    Nairo Quintana has played down reports of tension with Movistar by confirming he will target the Tour de France with the Spanish team in 2018.

    Since falling short in his bid to win the Giro-Tour double - he placed second at the Giro and 12th at the Tour - there have been reports of a falling out between the Colombian climber and Movistar management. Quintana's father went as far as claiming the team were burning out his son, and the arrival of Mikel Landa for 2018 was also cited as causing tension.

    Last week Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that Quintana was "on the market" after a falling out with Movistar and team manager Eusebio Unzue, with his agent Giuseppe Acquadro contacting several teams and requesting a total of €6 million for Quintana’s contract and the fee to break his existing deal with Movistar.

    That was denied by Acquadro but Movistar’s reluctance to comment and Quintana’s silence only fuelled suspicions of a falling out. Quintana finally took to Twitter to clarify his future, as well as to confirm that he will be part of the Colombian team for the World Championships in Bergen, Norway at the end of September. Quintana won the 2016 Vuelta a Espana but will not defend his title.

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    Quintana posted a photo of himself in Movistar colours and wrote: “My next event will be the @bergen2017 worlds. In 2018 I’ll be with the @Movistar_Team by @LeTour.

    On Tuesday, the Movistar team announced the arrival of Landa, with Unzue confirming that Quintana has a contract with Movistar until 2019.

    Landa is expected to be team leader for the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2018, while Quintana focuses on the Tour de France. 

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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