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VN news ticker: Vuelta route ‘suits Tadej Pogačar well,’ USA Crits partners with Tour Series

Here's the news making headlines for Thursday, February 11.

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USA Crits partners with Tour Series

Sweet Spot, organizers of the Tour Series — Britain’s leading circuit racing series — has partnered with USA Crits for 2021 in an effort to “raise the profile of criterium series globally.”

As part of the deal, the men’s and women’s winners of the Tour Series will be given the opportunity to race the final round of the 2021 USA Crits series, the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic from September 24-26. Likewise, the men’s and women’s team champions of the 2021 D1 USA Crits series will be invited to compete in the 2022 Tour Series.

“We are excited about this new partnership that brings some of the best crit teams from around the globe to Winston-Salem and gives our D1 Teams the chance to race internationally,” said Scott Morris, USA CRITS managing director in a release.

USA Crits kicks off its 2021 season on April 23 with the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare Systems Criterium in South Carolina. The 10-race series includes stops in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City, Utah; Holladay, Utah; Littleton, Colorado; Birmingham, Alabama; Athens, Georgia; El Paso, Texas; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The Tour Series is Britain’s premiere circuit racing series, and it is comprised of six racing rounds held throughout the summer. Teams compete with five riders, and winning teams are determined by the combined time of the four highest-placed riders (three for women’s teams). Points are awarded each round, with teams taking an overall prize at the end of the series.

UAE-Emirates DS: Vuelta a España route ‘suits Tadej Pogačar well’

Officials unveiled the route for the Vuelta a España on Thursday, and UAE-Team Emirates officials like what they see. Though the Tour de France defense will be the season focal point for Tadej Pogačar, the young Slovenian has also committed to racing the Spanish grand tour in 2021.

“It’s a course that fits us well,” said UAE-Team Emirates sport director Matxín Fernández told EFE. “The final time trial suits Tadej well. We’ll come to the Vuelta looking for stages and contesting the overall.

“It’s a well-balanced route,” he said. “I like the course, and they’ve looked to bring some balance to the race that wasn’t there the past few years. It will be attractive to riders who also want to race the Olympics and prepare for the worlds.”

Gianni Savio broiling after Giro d’Italia snub

The patchwork team jerseys of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec won’t be in the 2021 Giro d’Italia, and team boss Gianni Savio is steaming. Despite hitting the podium twice in the 2020 Giro and leading the Italian second-tier team rankings, Savio and his troops did not receive one of the four wildcard bids issued Wednesday by RCS Sport.

“It’s a true sporting infamy,” Savio told OA Sport, who also expressed dismay with the wildcard system. “If I have to live in an unfair system that makes shameful choice, well, I don’t know if I want to continue. I’m not saying I will quit cycling, but I’m not saying I will continue either. Combativeness is in my DNA, but I don’t want to be some Don Quixote fighting windmills. There is something wrong. I consider myself one of the last romantics. Unfortunately, the God of money has swallowed up almost everything.”

Vincenzo Nibali adjusts early season to target UAE Tour

Fresh off a promising ride at the Etoile de Besseges last week, Sicilian veteran Vincenzo Nibali has made a late change to his program. La Gazetta Dello Sport reported Thursday that the Trek-Segafredo captain has switched up his schedule to swap out the Tour des Alpes Maritimes and instead start his WorldTour season at the UAE Tour, beginning February 21.

Nibali’s addition to the start-sheet for the Emirati race will see him going up against some of the cream of the grand tour crop, including Chris Froome and Tadej Pogačar. Jumbo-Visma will also be racing but has not yet confirmed if Primož Roglic will be attending the seven-stage race.

Richard Carapaz puts Tour de France, Olympics at center of calendar

Ecuadorian star Richard Carapaz is putting the Tour de France and Olympic Games at the center of his sophomore season with Ineos Grenadiers. The 2019 Giro d’Italia champion confirmed he will debut at the Volta a Catalunya, which was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Carapaz, second in the 2020 Vuelta a España, is also expected to race the Itzulia Basque Country, the Ardennes classics, and Critérum du Dauphiné before the Tour.

Despite a more balanced Tour course, Ineos Grenadiers boss Dave Brailsford is bullish on Carapaz, saying, “The great thing about Richie, he’s aggressive, and not scared of taking his opportunity. And he races really well in the third week.”