Tour de France organiser expands to Australia

Stuart O'Grady in escape, Tour Down Under 2011, stage six

The Tour Down Under announced yesterday that it will collaborate with Tour de France organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). The ASO will manage the media distribution of the stage race and expand its reach to Australia.

The ASO already organises or helps to organise races in the USA, China, the Middle East and in Europe. Tour de France race director, Christian Prudhomme will visit the race for three days, arriving on January 17 to help start the partnership.

The Tour Down Under said in a press release that it approved ASO "to manage the international broadcast distribution of the South Australian event." It is now in its 14th year and is the first race on the WorldTour calendar, this year running from January 15 to 22.

Giro announces first wild card teams

The Giro d'Italia organiser, RCS Sport announced on January 1 that it selected the teams that will compete for the four available wild card entries. The race runs from May 5 to 27, features 18 first division teams and four spots for wild card, second division teams.

The 14 second division teams listed below will also be available to compete for wild card spots in RCS Sport's other WorldTour races: Two places are open for Tirreno-Adriatico, seven for Milan-San Remo and seven the Tour of Lombardy.

On January 10, a RCS Sport panel will meet to select the teams.

The available wild card teams: Androni Giocattoli (ITA), Acqua & Sapone (ITA), Champion System Cycling Team (CHN), Colnago-CSF Inox (IRL), Colombia-Coldeportes (COL), Farnese Vini (GBR), Landbouwkrediet (Bel), Project 1T4I (NED), RusVelo (RUS), Saur Soyasun (FRa), Europcar (Fra), Team Netapp (Ger), Team Type 1-Sanofi (USA), Utelsilnord Named (IRL)

Visconti criticised over national jersey design

Giovanni Visconti's Italian national jersey lacks simplicity of Bradley Wiggins' jersey and garnered criticism yesterday at team Movistar's presentation in Madrid.

"I don't see what all the fuss is about," Visconti told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. "The jersey has a lot of taste and will be recognised in the peloton."

The three-time champion returned to the first division this year, leaving Farnese Vini for Spain's Movistar team. He joined his team-mats in his new jersey at the presentation yesterday. The design has the famous tricolour - red, white and green - bands backed with blue, the team's colour.

Wiggins, Belgian Philippe Gilbert and others have more traditional and recognisable designs. Gilbert's jersey - black, yellow and red - lacks any of the team's colours.

In 2009, the Italian cycling federation (FCI) made then champion Filippo Pozzato use a different design. At the Tour de France, he wore a jersey that looked more Russian than Italian champion, with the Moscow skyline incorporated into the tricolour. It looked similar to his Katusha team-mates' jerseys, but upset his federation.

Visconti's "case is different," said FCI president, Renato Di Rocco. "We've already given Movistar the go ahead."

UCI bans seven South American cyclists for doping

The Union Cycliste International (UCI) announced yesterday that it banned seven South American cyclists who failed doping controls.

In a press release it said, "The provisional suspensions remain in force until a hearing by their respective National Federations determines whether they have committed an anti-doping rule violation."

Four cyclists - Brazilians Wagner Alves, Tiago Damasceno and Flavio Reblin, and Chilean Manuel Villalobos - tested positive for Stanozolol. The controls came from the Tour of Rio, July 28 to 29, and the Tour of Brazil, October 17 to 20. Canadian Ben Johnson also tested positive for steroid Stanozolol during the 1988 Olympic Games.

Brazilian cyclist Elton Silva also tested positive on October 23 at the Tour of Brazil, but for mephentermine and phentermine.

Peruvian Ronald Luza and Bolivian Fernando Espindola failed doping tests at the Tour of Bolivia on 10 and 12 November, respectively. They both failed tests for cocaine, 19-norandrosterone and Boldenone PC.

All seven cyclists have the right to request analysis of their B samples collected during the doping controls.

Related links

Wiggins: 2012 is just another year

Sky confirms 2012 team line-up

Tour Down Under: Cycling Weekly's coverage index

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