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Astana and UCI dismiss report that licence has been stripped

Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France with Astana. Credit: PA

The International Cycling Union and Astana Pro Team have dismissed a report that the team of 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali have been stripped of their WorldTour licence by the Independent Licence Commission.

Last month the UCI requested that Astana's licence be revoked by the commission following an independent audit into their procedures, which came after a number of anti-doping infringements by Astana and their feeder team.

On Monday, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that Astana would lose their WorldTour licence and would only be allowed to apply for a Continental licence, the third tier of professional cycling, saying the decision had been made on March 20.

However, the UCI said the case had not yet been heard.

"Following a misleading article published today in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would like to clarify that no hearing has yet taken place in the Astana case and therefore no decision has been made," a UCI statement said.

Cookson brands Armstrong 'disrespectful'

Cycling boss Brian Cookson says Lance Armstrongis being 'completely disrespectful' by riding Tour de France route for charity.

Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), suggested Armstrong 'would be well-advised not to take part' in former Crewe Alexandra and England footballer Geoff Thomas' charity fundraising plan.

Lance Armstrong was planning to ride the route. Credit: PA

"I'm sure that Geoff Thomas means well, but frankly I think that's completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the Tour, disrespectful to the current riders, and disrespectful to the UCI and the anti-doping community," Cookson said at the Sport Industry Breakfast Club.

"I think Lance would be well-advised not to take part in that."

Brian Cookson was speaking at the The Sport Industry Breakfast Club. Credit: The Sport Industry Breakfast Club, powered by CWM FX


Contador signs new deal at Tinkoff-Saxo

Twice Tour de France champion Alberto Contador. Credit: PA

Twice Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has signed a new one-year contract that will keep him at the Tinkoff-Saxo team until the end of next season.

"Tinkoff-Saxo is delighted to announce the Spanish six-times Grand Tour winner will remain as its leader until the end of the 2016 season," the Russian-owned team said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Alberto Contador is undoubtedly one of the world's best stage racers and a legend in his lifetime."

Last month the Spanish cyclist indicated that next season could be his last as a professional.

UCI wants Astana's licence revoked, putting Tour winner Nibali in limbo

Vincenzo Nibali won last year's Tour with Astana. Credit: PA

The UCI will ask its licence commission to revoke the licence of Astana following an independent audit after a number of anti-doping infringements.

The news, announced by cycling's world governing body, puts Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali in limbo.

A statement from the UCI read: "The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today confirms that it has now reviewed the audit produced by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) (1) on Astana Pro Team and its anti-doping culture, policies, structures and management systems.

"The audit was one of the conditions attached to the registration of the team in the 2015 UCI WorldTour.

"After careful review of this extensive report, the UCI strongly believes that it contains compelling grounds to refer the matter to the Licence Commission (2) and request the Astana Pro Team licence be withdrawn."

Roche eager to help Froome win second Tour

Roche has joined Team Sky from Tinkoff-Saxo. Credit: PA

Team Sky's new signing Nicolas Roche says it would be a dream come true to help Chris Froome win the Tour de France this year.

Roche, who has raced 13 Grand Tours already in his career, was one of five new riders to join Sky in September and is expected to play a major role in Froome's bid for glory in July.

The Irishman's move also weakens Froome's main rival in Paris, Alberto Contador, who previously enjoyed Roche's support at Tinkoff-Saxo.

It has always been my dream to ride down the Champs Elysees with the yellow jersey in the team, that would be a brilliant success.

My priority is to be at the top of the Tour and give my maximum to support to Chris.

That's something I agreed on when I joined, it's something I wanted and I'm very happy to do that.

– Nicolas Roche speaking to Press Association

First African team to compete in Tour de France

Team MTN-Qhubeka competed the 2014 Vuelta. Credit: PA

Team MTN-Qhubeka will become the first African cycling team to compete in the Tour de France.

Africa's first UCI Pro Continental Cycling Team confirmed on their official Twitter feed this morning they have received a wildcard for the 2015 tour.

The interest in our team has been going to incredible heights. In South Africa the Tour de France is everything and once we get there, race it and do well, and show the potential and the talent, I think that it will open doors for other riders.

For me, that is the most important thing. We don’t want to be the only African Pro Continental team. We want to pioneer change. Could you imagine and Ethiopian team or an Algerian team or an Eritrean just to show what the potential is? We hope that the Tour de France and our involvement in that will grow and get more people into cycling

– MTN-Qhubeka team boss Doug Ryder speaking to


Froome makes 2015 Tour de France his priority

How will Froome get on in 2015? Credit: PA

Chris Froome has confirmed he will ride in next year's Tour de France, ending speculation that the 2013 winner would instead focus on the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana.

A statement released on Froome's official website today explains he "is motivated ahead of 2015 with the Tour de France again set to be the Team Sky rider's main focus."

Froome will be hoping to win the world's toughest cycling race for a second time after crashing out while defending his title this year.

"The Tour will remain my main focus for 2015,” he added. “The concept of doing all three Grand Tours in a season has got appeal but having said that, I know how hard it is to do two Grand Tours while targeting the overall win. At this point in my career I feel that the Tour takes priority."

2015 Tour de France route announced

Vincenzo Nibali will be defending his 2013 crown Credit: PA

The decisive moments of the 2015 Tour de France will take place at Alpe d'Huez after the route of the 102nd edition of the race was unveiled in Paris on Wednesday.

The Tour, which begins in Utrecht on July 4, promises to be thrilling, with defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, 2013 winner Chris Froome, two-time winner Alberto Contador and Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana all chasing the yellow jersey.

The race concludes in Paris on July 26, after travelling through Holland and Belgium, continuing to commemorate World War One in northern France and then travelling to north western France.

There is a long transfer to the Pyrenees, but the decisive moments will take place in the Alps.

The penultimate stage will conclude with the ascent to Alpe d'Huez, with its fabled 21 hairpin bends, before the ceremonial finish in Paris.

Oleg Tinkov offers €1m to winner of 2015 Grand Tour showdown

Tinkov (right) wants the best riders to be involved in every Grand Tour. Credit: PA

The Russian businessman who owns one of cycling's largest professional teams has offered €1m to four riders if they compete in all three Grand Tours next year.

Oleg Tinkov bought Team Saxo-Tinkoff in 2013, and has offered the prize to Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali and Nairo Quintana in a bid to get all four to take part in Giro D’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España in 2015.

The €1m fee would either be split among all riders or handed out to whoever performs best across the three events.

Speaking to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, he said:

“It comes from my desire to see all the great champions in the three biggest races of the year.

“We spoke about it in August and then at the Vuelta a España we were able to take our idea to David Brailsford of Sky, Alexandre Vinokourov of Astana, for Froome and Nibali. Now, we need to talk to Movistar for Quintana.”

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