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  1. Cassani predicts heat and climbs will produce a selective Tokyo 2020 Olympics

    Italian national coach Davide Cassani has predicted that heat and humidity will be a decisive factor in deciding the men's road race eventat the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo, with the climbs on the 234km course expected to reduce the race to final "head to head" battle.

    Cassani is in Japan to see the course and decide on logistics, confirming that his squad will stay near Mount Fuji rather than in the Olympic village so they can be train on the course at the foot of the snow-covered mountain.

    The routes of both the men's and women's races will favour the climbers, with the men's parcours tackling four climbs, including the outer slopes of Mount Fuji. As had previously been reported in the Japanese press, the women's course will be a watered-down version of the men's and misses the Mount Fuji loop altogether. The women's race will feature a total elevation of 2,692 metres during 137km of racing, while the men will tackle 4,865 metres of climbing.

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    A shorter men's test event will be held next July.

    The race profile includes five key climbs as the 234km race heads towards Mount Fuji and the finish in Fuji International Speedway circuit, from the start in Tokyo's Musashinonomori Park. The climbs start after 40km of racing.

    The decisive point in the men's race is likely to be the Mikuni Pass. The 6.8km climb averages 10.2 per cent and touches and ends 34 kilometres from the finish.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  2. Peter Sagan to race Classics through until Liege-Bastogne-Liege

    Three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) has announced that he will compete in a full spring Classics campaign in 2019, with plans for the 28-year-old to race from Milan-San Remo in March right through until Liege-Bastogne-Liege in late April.

    Speaking at the Bora-Hansgrohe team presentation in Mallorca on Monday, Sagan confirmed that he would once again begin his season at the Tour Down Under in January. He will add the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina to his programme before returning to Europe for a spell of altitude training in February.  

    "I'm happy be a part of this team. It's been two years already but it's felt like just a week. We're starting another season and we're getting older but I'd like to help pass on my experience to some of the younger riders," Sagan said.

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    "We've decided that I'll do my kilometres in Australia and from there go to Argentina to do the Tour de San Juan. Then I'll have some rest before going up to Sierra Nevada."

    Sagan will miss the opening weekend in Belgium at the start of March and also forgo Strade Bianche.

    "After that I'll come back for Tirreno-Adriatico and the plan is then to carry on until Liege-Bastogne-Liege. We'll see how that goes with such a hard period but that's the first plan."

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  3. Varnish's sex discrimination case heads to employment tribunal

    Jess Varnish's case against British Cycling and UK Sport is set to take a significant step forward at Manchester Employment Tribunal this week, as the former track sprinter fights for compensation after she alleged sex discrimination against Shane Sutton, then the technical director of British Cycling.

    The employment tribunal will consider if Varnish’s UK Sport funding means she was self-employed or an employee. Varnish and her lawyers argue funded athletes should be classed as "employees" or "workers" rather than "self-employed." In Britain “employees” and “workers” are protected against discrimination, have the right to minimum wage, paid holidays, whistleblowing protection, maternity pay and a pension. Athlete Performance Awards that are paid to athletes are currently considered as grants rather than a salary.

    The significance of the Varnish case has been compared to the Bosman ruling in European professional football, which allowed footballers to become free agents after their contracts expired. Employment status has come under the microscope in recent years as workers in many fields fight for better rights. However the case has sparked debate about the best status for funded athletes and could spark serious implications for sport funding in Britain and elsewhere.

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    Varnish now runs a coffee shop with several former teammates, but her accusations have rocked British Cycling and lifted the lid on the atmosphere at the so-called Medals Factory. It is understood that UK Sport acted aggressively in its defence, even applying for a strike-out order to dismiss the case, along with a costs order and deposit order. This could have meant Varnish's assets would have been seized pending the case, forcing her to drop her claim.

    Sky News suggested that UK Sport and British Cycling have already spent more than £500,000 on preparing for the tribunal, including £75,000 for the two barristers that will represent them in the seven-day trial in Manchester.

    Varnish was dropped from the Great Britain elite track programme in 2016 and so missed out on the Rio Olympics. She has claimed she was subject to discrimination and had been told by former technical director Shane Sutton to "go and have a baby.” He denied those claims but then resigned. A British Cycling internal investigation later cleared him of eight out of the nine accusations. Varnish’s case has sparked a duty of care debate in British sport which has spread to several other Olympic and Paralympic sports.

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  4. Evenepoel will not ride cobbled Classics in 2019

    Junior world champion Remco Evenepoel has confirmed that he will not line out in any cobbled Classics during his debut professional season with Deceuninck-QuickStep.

    Evenepoel claimed both the road and time trial world titles in Innsbruck in September at the end of a remarkable season that saw him dominate the junior peloton at international level. The Belgian youngster will bypass the under-23 ranks in 2019, moving directly from junior racing to WorldTour level with Deceuninck-QuickStep.

    Last month, the Belgian team revealed that the teenager would ride a light programme of 55 race days in 2019. At a gathering of his supporters’ club in Geraardsbergen at the weekend, Evenepoel confirmed that he will not tackle the Muur in competition in 2019.

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    “No Tour of Flanders or Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for me,” Evenepoel said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “I’m focusing on the Walloon Classics and short stage races. You cannot compare the professional Flemish Classics with those of the juniors. They are completely different. I won’t pass by here in a race.”

    Evenepoel only turned to cycling in 2017 after previously playing football in the youth structures of Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven. The son of 1990s professional rider Patrick, Evenepoel compiled a stunning sequence of wins as a junior in 2018, including Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the Giro della Lunigiana stage race, the Peace Race, the Belgian Championships and a double at the European Championships, where he won the road race by a margin of almost ten minutes.

    His performances have earned the admiration of Eddy Merckx, who told Het Laatste Nieuws: "What else could I teach him? Nothing. He can do it all.”

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  5. Van Loy hospitalised after Vlaamse Druivencross crash

    Ellen Van Loy was taken to hospital in Herentals, Belgium, on Sunday after crashing hard at the Vlaamse Druivencross. Her Telenet Fidea Lions team reported on Twitter that Van Loy suffered bruising to the ligaments in her knee and would spend the night in the hospital before undergoing more tests on Monday to determine the extent of her injuries.

    Van Loy, who was coming off a win at GP Hasselt on December 1, went down on the muddy course in Overijse and had to abandon. Lucinda Brand (Team Sunweb) went on to win after battling Nikki Brammeier (Mudiita) throughout the race.

    The victory at Hasselt at the beginning of the month was the first win of the 2018-19 season for Van Loy, who started out in September with third at the first UCI World Cup of the season in Wisconsin. From there, Van Loy hit the podium at Berencross, Kermiscross, Kiremko Nacht van Woerden, DVV verzekeringen trofee-Jaarmarktcross and DVV verzekeringen trofee-Flandriencross. Van Loy's win at GP Hasselt in front of Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal) and world champion Sanne Cant (Corendon-Cricus) was a positive sign for the upcoming races.

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    The team did not say how long they expect Van Loy to remain out of action.  

    You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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