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VN news ticker: Rigoberto Urán leaves UAE Tour to attend daughter’s birth; Davide Rebellin signs for 29th pro season

Here's the news making headlines for Saturday, February 20.

Rigoberto Urán leaves UAE Tour due to attend birth of daughter

Rigoberto Urán is out of the UAE Tour before the race has even begun. The Colombian star has left the Emirates to be with his partner Michelle, who is due to give birth imminently.

“Rigoberto Urán is leaving the UAE Tour today to join his partner, Michelle who is set to give birth to their baby girl in Miami, USA,” Urán’s EF-Education Nippo team wrote on Twitter. “Join us in congratulating Michelle and Rigo! We wish you all the best!”

Urán, 34 had been preparing to lead his team at the weeklong race, starting Sunday. Neilson Powless, Lawson Craddock and Sergio Higuita will now take center stage for the U.S-based squad.

Davide Rebellin, 49, signs for Italian continental team

Italian veteran Davide Rebellin rolls into his 29th year as a pro with Work Service Marchiol in 2021. The Italian conti team announced the signing of the 49-year-old this weekend. Rebellin had previously been rumored to be joining the Cambodian Cycling Academy.

Rebellin turned pro in 1992, and won both La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2004 – at which point Remco Evenepoel was just four years old.

Nairo Quintana takes confidence from racing return at Tour des Alpes Maritimes

Nairo Quintana is cautiously optimistic after making his season debut at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var on Friday. The Colombian finished in the lead group in the Gourdon hilltop finish alongside GC riders such as Thibaut Pinot, Geraint Thomas and Dan Martin. It was the 31-year-old’s first race since undergoing double knee surgery in the winter.

“My feelings were better than I expected,” he said. “It has been a very good day. I’m going back to racing and I’m at the level, I was able to be active without any problem, which is very reassuring. I have finished with the best in this first stage of the race, which gives me a feeling of tranquility mixed with hope.”

Groupama-FDJ boss bewails use of data, team radios in racing: ‘We’re turning riders into robots.’

Veteran Groupama-FDJ boss Marc Madiot has railed against the use of data and race radios in racing. Speaking to L’Equipe, Madiot cautioned that the increasing focus on power outputs and reliance on radio communications is robbing the peloton of its panache.

“There is permanent monitoring in racing, and it also exists in training,” Madiot said. “Earpieces – we have a briefing before the race – we don’t need to intervene every three seconds.”

“They’ve got their noses buried in their screens,” he continued. “There’s no spontaneity anymore in the sporting act.”

Madiot, manager of riders such as Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu, also warned that the pinpoint prescription of race tactics via radio and use of live performance parameters added extra pressure on riders in the high-stakes peloton.

“Take data from riders, but keep it hidden – not live,” Madiot said. “We’re in the process of turning riders into robots.”