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  • Italian Vincenzo Nibali dropped out of the Vuelta a San Juan before the start of stage 1 after contracting gastroenteritis before the race began, the Bahrain-Merida team announced on Twitter on Sunday. The Italian's five teammates will go on without him, with Nibali's brother Antonio joined by Kanstantsin Siutsou, Niccolo Bonifazio, Ivan Cortina, and newcomer Mark Padun. There were reports of more riders being hit by the bug at the race hotel, and there could be more abandons as the race continues. The Vuelta a San Juan opens with a 148.9km stage from San Juan - Pocito on Sunday.ADVERTISEMENT It is an inauspicious start for Nibali, who ended last season with a victory in Il Lombardia after coming second to Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the Vuelta a España. Nibali could stand to inherit that title from Froome should the Briton be disqualified for his too-high salbutamol level on stage 18 of the race.  @vueltasanjuanok Unfortunately @vincenzonibali is unable to start Stage 1 due to stomach bug.#BAHRAINMERIDA line-up @AntonioNibali @siutsou @Bonifazio_993 @ivan_cortina @PadunMark pic.twitter.com/uh5O0DlW2W — Team Bahrain Merida (@Bahrain_Merida) January 21, 2018 You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

  • 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. ...

  • 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....

  • 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...

  • The 2018 Santos Tour Down Under concluded the first WorldTour race of the season, with Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) taking the final stage and Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) the overall victory. In the latest edition of the Cyclingnews Podcast – brought to you in association with Prendas Ciclismo and Pinarello – we hear from Greipel and Impey, along with runner-up Richie Porte (BMC) and points classification winner, world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe). We analyse the closing stage of the race and the prowess of Greipel’s sprint, then take a broader look at the race and success of non-Australians in a year where there were just two wins for the locals.ADVERTISEMENT In the podcast we also discuss the informal morning press conference with UCI President David Lappartient and his statements concerning Chris Froome. Listen to the Cyclingnews podcast below, and for more episodes, click here. You can read more at Cyclingnews.com

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