Hello and welcome to Thursday's Cycling Weekly live blog. Christmas is edging closer, but we're most excited about a potential transfer announcement for Mark Cavendish, which could come any day now. If that happens to be today, then you'll hear it first here.
Join me, Tom Davidson, as I round up the latest news in the world of cycling.
9:27 - Tour de France 2024 to start in Florence
9:41 - BikeExchange Jayco renamed Team Jayco AlUla
10:47 - Jumbo-Visma overhaul tech sponsors
11:22 - State-of-the-art pump track built in Rwanda
11:35 - British Cycling shares 2023 BMX racing calendar
12:55 - Wout van Aert's cyclo-cross calendar revealed, featuring Cyclo-Cross World Championships
13:20 - UCI Track Champions League reveals staggering rider data
13:44 - Follow the Jumbo-Visma team presentation
13:59 - Primož Roglič to ride Giro d'Italia in 2023, not Tour de France
15:19 - US National Cycling League announces first two teams for inaugural edition
15:42 - Tell us your festive cycling plans!
16:30 - Remco Evenepoel hints at Tadej Pogačar battle at UAE Tour
Italy to welcome first Tour de France Grand Départ
In case you missed it, the Tour de France decided 5:30pm last night was the best time to announce that the race will begin in Florence, Italy in 2024.
This will mark the third year in a row that the Tour starts outside of France, following Grand Départs in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2022 and Bilbao, Spain in 2023.
Starting in the Tuscan city on 29 June, the first three stages will traverse the Italian countryside, paying homage to some of the sport's most fabled riders.
In the press release, race director Christian Prudhomme said: "Exactly a century after Ottavio Bottecchia became the first cyclist from the other side of the Alps to win the Tour, the peloton will go from the birthplace of Gino Bartali, a champion Righteous Among the Nations, to that of Marco Pantani, the unforgettable Il Pirata, worshipped without measure, before paying tribute to the campionissimo, Fausto Coppi."
Reacting to the news, one Twitter user wrote: "It's no longer the Tour de France, it's the Tour of Europe!" Others simply said: "Andiamooo", or "let's gooo" in Italian.
For what it's worth, I went to Florence once. The buildings were beautiful and the pizza was probably the best I've ever had. I'll definitely be throwing my hat in the ring to cover this Grand Départ.
😍 Here are the first 3 stages of the #TDF2024 and its Grand Départ from Florence!😍 Voici les 3 premières étapes du #TDF2024 avec un Grand Départ depuis Florence ! pic.twitter.com/NAp6KFspmGDecember 21, 2022
Introducing Team Jayco AlUla
Next season, the Australian team formerly known as BikeExchange Jayco will go by the name Team Jayco AlUla, strengthening its ties with Saudi Arabia.
Jayco, for the record, is a "recreational vehicle manufacturer" (RVs, campervans, etc.), while AlUla is described in the press release as a "boutique heritage and culture destination in Northwest Saudi Arabia".
In a statement shared by the team, general manager Brent Copeland said: “AlUla became an official partner of the team in 2021 and we have been very grateful for their support.
"To see them now step up and confirm their vision for the future with their added commitment to our team, as the new naming rights partner, it is a big moment for us as an organisation."
The Australian team won't be the only WorldTour outfit with ties to Saudi Arabia next season. In October, Abarca Sports, the managing company of Movistar Team, signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Saudi Cycling Federation.
The Middle Eastern country's investment in cycling comes as part of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” initiative, which seeks to diversify the oil-rich state’s ventures and boost its reputation around the world.
Jumbo-Visma overhauls tech sponsors
Jumbo-Visma will swap Shimano for Sram and Agu for Oakley in 2023, as part of its new "material philosophy".
According to the team's performance manager Mathieu Heijboer, the new partnerships will help "create team-specific materials to take our performance to the next level".
"Sram is focused on being the most innovative and high performance component manufacturer in the world," he said, before adding (somewhat confusingly): "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".
The team has also struck a deal with Nimbl who will provide the squad with footwear. The small Italian brand has supported a number of riders in recent years, such as Vincenzo Nibali and Fred Wright, creating handmade shoes for them to race in.
Rwanda unveils state-of-the-art pump track
Israel-Premier Tech have built a brand new pump track in Rwanda, the first one in the country.
The ProTeam, together with more than 1,200 cycling fans, raised over €250,000 to build the track, which was designed and constructed by Swiss company Velosolutions.
South African rider Daryl Impey, who has ridden on the Israeli team since 2021, said: "Even though I never had the chance to experience something like this when I was growing up, to be able to get out there and ride in such a safe environment – there’s no better alternative.
"I am so happy we can make a difference and give the children a platform on which to develop themselves.”
The pump track completes phase one of Isreal-Premier Tech's 'Field of Dreams' cycling centre project in the Rwanda district of Bugesera. The next phase involves building a "unique race and training track".
In 2025, Rwanda will become the first African nation to host the Road World Championships.
BMX dates for your calendar
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If BMX is your thing, British Cycling has released a number of key dates and venues for the discipline's 2023 calendar:
National BMX Series
Rounds 1 and 2: Cyclopark, Kent – 1-2 April
Rounds 3 and 4: Platt Fields, Manchester Outdoor – 3-4 June
Rounds 5 and 6 (National Championships): Gosport, Hampshire – 1-2 July
Rounds 7 and 8: TBC, 9-10 September
2023 British Championships
Derby - 26-27 August
Looking ahead to next season, Olympic champion Beth Shriever said: “Racing at the British Championships is always a highlight on my racing calendar, and to win both the British Champs and the National Series last year made racing at home really special.
"It's amazing to have these events on around the UK – the BMX racing community is so special and it's great to see homegrown talent growing year on year. I'm already looking forward to the 2023 season.”
Wout van Aert to race cyclo-cross Worlds in February
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Wout van Aert will compete in the upcoming Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands on 5 February, hoping to add a fourth title to his name.
Jumbo-Visma released the Belgian's full cyclo-cross calendar today, which will see him line up in 12 more events before his road season begins.
While the Dutchman is scheduled to race the World Championships, It is currently unknown whether world champion Tom Pidcock will defend his title in six weeks' time.
UCI Track Champions League releases jaw-dropping data
2,271 watts, 73.2km/h and 209bpm - these were the stand-out figures from this year's UCI Track Champions League.
The first was the peak power achieved by Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland, a seven-time world champion, in the first heat of the Men's Sprint in London.
Sprint league winner Matthew Richardson clocked the top speed, averaging in excess of 73km/h to beat Harrie Lavreysen in Round 5's keirin final.
Two riders recorded a heart rate of 209bpm during the competition - Canada's Sarah Van Dam and Malaysia's Mohd Azizulhasni Awang.
The UCI Track Champions League will be back for its third edition next November.
Watch: Jumbo-Visma team presentation
Jumbo-Visma are, right this very moment, presenting their squad and goals for the 2023 season.
We've already had new recruit Dylan van Baarle saying he hopes to be in the Tour de France team. Wout van Aert has also been on stage, with perfectly coiffed hair, looking back on his outstanding 2022.
You can watch the rest of the presentation (opens in new tab), which ends at 2:30pm GMT (3:30pm CET), on our website.
Primož Roglič to ride Giro d'Italia in 2023, not Tour de France
Three-time Vuelta a España winner Primož Roglič will target the Giro d'Italia in 2023, and will not line up at the Tour de France.
The news was, seemingly accidentally, announced by Jumbo-Visma's Wilco Kelderman during the Dutch squad's team presentation this afternoon.
"We have unfinished business with the Giro," said Jumbo-Visma sports director Merijn Zeeman, expanding on the decision to send Roglič to Italy. "In 2019, Primož ended up on the podium and said he wanted to go back there one day.
"Jonas [Vingegaard] will start with number 1 in the Tour and it's an obligation to defend your title.
"We have two fantastic leaders at two fantastic Grand Tours."
Kelderman will act as the Slovenian's right-hand man as he returns to the Giro d'Italia for the first time in four years. Jan Tratnik will also be in the squad.
Dear @giroditalia,Let’s see each other again in May.𝑾𝒊𝒕𝒉 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆,@rogla pic.twitter.com/ZfWLnWrWxSDecember 22, 2022
US National Cycling League announces first two teams
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Miami Nights and Denver Disruptors are the names of the first two teams announced for next year's inaugural National Cycling League (NCL) in the USA.
"Blazing through your streets at 40mph," the NCL wrote on Instagram, alongside images of the two new teams' kits. "Team Nights or Team Disruptors?"
Hoping to reignite America's cycling fandom, the NCL announced the formation of a “professional sports league of the future” in August this year.
The league will consist of a championship-style season, held across a series of closed-course 1-2km criterium races in major cities throughout the country.
Already, the NCL has received major investment. Earlier this month, it was announced it had raised $7.5 million in seed financing - understood to be the largest ever private investment in US pro cycling - from a group including NBA and NFL stars.
The NCL will launch sometime in 2023, with 10 teams set to compete.
Riding home for Christmas
My colleague, Cycling Weekly's senior news writer Adam Becket, is cycling 150km tomorrow to his family home for Christmas.
The weather forecasts are currently predicting rain and winds of up to 20mph. Fingers crossed they work in his favour.
Have you got any fun cycling plans for this festive period? If so, we'd love to hear about them. Tweet us at @cyclingweekly (opens in new tab)!
Remco Evenepoel eyes Tadej Pogačar showdown at UAE Tour
World champion Remco Evenepoel has said that his current plan is to race next year's UAE tour, a race dominated by Tadej Pogačar in recent years.
Speaking to Het Nieuwsblad (opens in new tab) as he accepted Belgium's National Trophy for Sports Merit today, Evenepoel said: "[Riding the UAE Tour] is indeed the plan at the moment, but it’s not yet completely certain.
"It would be good to compete with Tadej on a race where he has already won twice. He will be in top form there anyway, because for his team it’s kind of like the World Championships. We’re still looking at what the best option is."
The Belgian recently announced that he will open his 2023 road season at the Vuelta a San Juan, set to take place from 22-29 January.
That's all for today, folks. We'll be back in the New Year with more live blogs as we look ahead to next season's racing.
Before that, though, there's a three-way cyclo-cross duel between Pidcock, Van Aert and Van der Poel to look forward to tomorrow. Do make sure to check back in for coverage!
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