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VN news ticker: La Course to start a day earlier, former Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman appeals ban

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, April 22.

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La Course moves to Saturday, June 26

The date for La Course by Le Tour de France has been moved up by one day to Saturday, June 26.

The race, which was originally on the calendar for Sunday, June 27, was moved to one day earlier due to regional elections. ASO made the decision to move the date of the race so it would not interfere with polling.

The women will race a 107.4km route between Brest and Landerneau.

The new route and date should offer similar parcours to the previously planned route, with three laps of a 14km lumpy finish circuit, with the banner atop the Côte de la Fosse aux Loups, and offering 1,800m of elevation gain.

The Women’s WorldTour event has been run since 2014. A longer, multi-stage event is planned for 2022, following ASO’s promise.

Former Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman appeals ban

Richard Freeman, the former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor recently banned from cycling for his involvement in providing a banned substance to riders, launched an appeal.

Freeman lost his medical license in March after a tribunal ruled that in 2011 he ordered Testogel “knowing or believing” it was for an unnamed rider.

With new legal representation who launched an appeal with the High Court, Freeman’s case is expected to be heard in November or December.

The appeal may focus on Sutton’s evidence and the tribunal’s conclusion that Sutton was a credible and consistent witness.

“Mr. Freeman is innocent of wrongdoing and we are confident that the truth will ultimately be recognized by the UK justice system,” said solicitor Graham Small.

Freeman admitted to 18 of 22 charges against him and continued to deny the charge regarding the purpose of the Testogel order.

Freeman maintains that the Testogel was ordered to treat former performance director Shane Sutton’s erectile dysfunction. Sutton continued to deny the claim, going so far as to storm out of testimony and evidence presented during a hearing in 2019.

Freeman also faces charges of violating UK Anti-Doping regulations for ordering the Testogel.

UCI partners with Zwift to host IOC virtual events

The UCI announced Thursday its participation in the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), a new initiative backed by the International Olympic Committee.

The selected technology partner for UCI cycling esports is Zwift.

“The Olympic Virtual Series is an Olympic digital experience new and unique which aims to strengthen direct engagement with new audiences in the field of virtual sports,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

The event will feature online competitions in cycling, rowing, sailing, baseball, softball, and motorsports racing, in association with international federations of these sports, and video game producers. Football (soccer), tennis, and taekwondo, have expressed interest in the OVS, but will not participate in the inaugural edition.

The inclusion of cycling esports in the OVS comes just months after the inaugural UCI esports world cycling championships.

“Participation in virtual sports is at an all-time high and Zwift is at the forefront of creating a new genre of physical virtual sport. The Olympic Virtual Series aligns with Zwift’s own mission to engage more people, to connect a global audience, and to speak to a younger generation,” said Zwift CEO Eric Min. “We’re thrilled that the IOC and the UCI share in our vision and have selected Zwift to be the publisher for the very first OVS.”

The OVS will host open, mass-participation events June 1-27, and Zwift will release more details about the events closer to the start of the series.

Groupama-FDJ may pass on Thibaut Pinot for Giro d’Italia

Pinot only managed eight place at the early season Faun-Ardeche classic.
Pinot only managed eighth place at the early-season Faun-Ardèche Classic. Photo: James Startt 

Reports are swirling that the French-based Groupama-FDJ squad will skip taking Thibaut Pinot to the 2021 Giro d’Italia.

Pinot has not shown continued forward progress in his recovery from back surgery, despite his participation in the Tour of the Alps where is currently some 23 minutes behind race leader Simon Yates.

Pinot, who crashed on stage 1 of the 2020 Tour de France eventually slipped out of GC contention on stage 8, citing lingering back pain.

Pinot was previously targeting a run on the 2021 Giro, having already conceded a start at this year’s Tour.

“We have seen that he still has pain in his back after the operation and treatment,” sports director Philippe Mauduit said Tuesday.

Pinot’s top performance in 2021 so far has been eight at the early-season Faun-Ardèche Classic.