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VN news ticker: James Knox disqualified from Tour Down Under, Ineos boss aims to buy Manchester United

Here's the news making the headlines on Wednesday, January 18.

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James Knox disqualified from Tour Down Under for drafting

James Knox had his Tour Down Under cut short after commissaires kicked him off the race for drafting.

The Soudal-Quick-Step rider hit the deck along with several others during a crash-marred opening road stage of the Australian race with just over 50km remaining.

As he tried to make his way back to the peloton, the commissaires deemed he had received too much help from a team car and disqualified him from the race. To add insult to injury, Knox was also fined 200 Swiss francs, while his DS Geert Van Bondt was hit with a 500-Swiss franc fine.

Fellow crasher Herman Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious) and his sport director Neil Stephens were also punished for the same offense but avoided being kicked off the race. Both were hit with fines and Pernsteiner received a three-minute time penalty in the GC.

Ineos boss interested in Manchester United

Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe is planning to expand his sporting empire with the petrochemicals firm in the running to buy British soccer club Manchester United.

Ratcliffe and Ineos are already involved in a whole host of sporting endeavors, including the Ineos Grenadiers WorldTour squad, which it took over in 2019.

The Ineos group also owns soccer clubs in Nice and Lausanne and the Ineos Britannia sailing team. In addition to that, Ineos also has big-money partnerships with the Mercedes Formula 1 team and the New Zealand rugby squad.

Ratcliffe recently tried and failed to buy another British soccer club, Chelsea.

Manchester United has been owned by the American brothers Joel and Avram Glazer since 2005. Last year, they opened the team up to being bought following a series of protests by fans against their ownership.

Miami Blazers announce 2023 team roster

The Miami Blazers, a team that last year competed in the 10-race American Criterium Cup series, announced its 11-strong roster today, including seven new athletes.

The seven new athletes are:

  • Daniel Estevez – Northborough, MA
  • Ruben Companioni – Coral Springs, FL
  • Alexi Costa – Greenville, SC
  • Oscar Quiroz – San Ignacio, Belize
  • Brandon Feehery – Knoxville, TN
  • Spencer Moavenzadeh – Pikesville, MD
  • Tanner Ward – Little Rock, AR

Returning athletes include:

  • Dante Young – Tarzana, CA
  • Hasani Hennis – Jacksonville, FL
  • Jonathan Brown – Murfreesboro, TN
  • Joshua Kelly – Murfreesboro, TN

National Interscholastic Cycling Association launches league in Mississippi

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, often referred to as NICA, announced Tuesday a new league in Mississippi.

“We are excited about bringing NICA to Mississippi,” said league director Michelle Williams. “I am very impressed with how the NICA organization addresses the whole student-athlete.”

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, NICA offers extracurricular cycling programs to middle school and high school aged kids, including team practices and group rides, adventure rides, competitive racing, and trail stewardship.

The new Mississippi league joins 30 other existing regional NICA leagues across the United States. Before, students in Mississippi had been participating in the nearby Alabama league.

“After spending several years participating in the Alabama NICA League, it is now time for us to bring this excellent organization to Mississippi for our kids,” said Williams. “We are excited to get more kids on bikes, letting them have fun outdoors, teaching them new skills, helping them set goals, and building a supportive community.”

Over 27,000 students are involved in NICA across the country.

Athletes can begin signing up for the Mississippi league in October. The regular season starts December 1, 2023, and races and other events will begin taking place in the spring of 2024.

Prospective coaches can register in September of this year.