World champion Peter Sagan claimed the Saitama Criterium on Saturday in a sprint finish.

The race, which was held in the city of Saitama, north of Tokyo, is largely entertainment and designed to deliver an outcome which keeps the Japanese fans happy.

Sagan (Tinkoff) finished ahead of Japanese champion Sho Hatsuyama (Bridgestone-Anchor) and Tour de France champion, Chris Froome (Sky).

Marcel Kittel (Etixx-QuickStep) was the fist to attack on the final lap but Sagan and Hatsuyama responded to fight it out for the win.

The 62-kilometre race around a 3.1 kilometre street circuit is organised by ASO, the same company that holds Tour de France.

Last year, Germany's John Degenkolb won the event in Saitama. Froome triumphed in the 2013 inaugural race.

Monday 31 Oct 2016

The Subaru Australian Open Criterium, in Noosa, saw Jesse Kerrison clinch the win, in a bunch sprint finish, in the men’s race, as Tiffany Cromwell proved too good in the women’s race, winning from a breakaway group of four.

Despite a crash, with just on 15 minutes to go in the race, Kerrison maintained his composure, and with the support of his State of Matter MAAP teammates, won the sprint finish ahead of Cameron Ivory and, former team sprint world champion, Scott Sunderland.

“That was really tough, especially after the crash,” said Kerrison, the current Australian under 23 criterium champion. “I felt the pressure given the boys had put me is such a great position.

“I’ve watched this race so many times, it’s awesome to finally get my name on that honour roll.”

The men’s race was an aggressive affair with Jordan Kirby, riding one of his last races for the Drapac team, launching two big attacks in an attempt to win solo. He spent half the race off the front on his own but was reeled in with just three laps remaining.

Queensland’s Tory Herfoss, a former Superbike rider, also made regular attempts to breakaway and has marked himself as a rider to watch throughout the Australian summer.

The women’s race saw a strong breakaway of four steal a march on the peloton as they endeavoured to get away from track world championships Rebecca Wiasak and Annette Edmondson.

Katrin Garfoot, fresh off winning the bronze medal in the individual time trial at the UCI Road World Championships, was among the four at the front of the race along with Emily Roper, an under 23 Australian champion in the road race, individual time trial and criterium, and Lucy Bechtel, who was riding for the Specialized team.

But it was Tiffany Cromwell, a fourth place finishes in the road race at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, who proved to be too smart and too quick for her rivals.

“We knew there were some fast girls in the race so a few of us knew we wanted to get a smaller group,” Cromwell said.

“Kat (Katrin Garfoot) was strong, she really drove that break. It was a perfect break for me. I just had to be smart.

“(When the break was established) I wasn’t super confident because my legs were feeling pretty horrendous...but I knew I just had to play it smart and play the sprint well and when I went I knew I had it (the win).

Cromwell’s desire to get away from the main peloton proved prophetic, as the much feared, Rebecca Wiasak won the bunch sprint home for fifth.

Australian Shane Sutton has maintained his innocence over the matter which led to his axing as technical director of British Cycling.

Former technical director Shane Sutton has pleaded his innocence after British Cycling upheld Jess Varnish's complaint of inappropriate and discriminatory language'.

Australian Sutton resigned on April 27, 100 days prior to the Rio Olympics, over allegations of sexism levelled by Varnish and further claims he called members of the Paralympic team ''gimps'' and ''wobblies''.

Sutton rejected the specific allegations, but quit his role as technical director to avoid any distraction leading up to the Rio Olympics.

British Cycling upholds sexism allegations against Sutton
Shane Sutton, British Cycling's former technical director, did use derogatory language towards rider Jessica Varnish, the governing body said on Friday following the conclusion of an internal investigation into his conduct.

Varnish's complaint was investigated internally by British Cycling and upheld, but Sutton feels let down by the verdict.

He told the UK's Sunday Telegraph: "I'm adamant that I am innocent. I have definitely never overstepped the mark with Jess Varnish or any other athlete.

"I'm massively disappointed. I put my trust in (the investigation). I have gone back to them now and asked for the supporting evidence to try to understand how they have arrived at this conclusion."

Sutton quits as British Cycling chief amid discrimination row
British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton resigned on Wednesday after being engulfed in a row about sexist and discriminatory remarks he is alleged to have made.

Sutton joined British Cycling in 2014 and oversaw a glittering period of Olympic domination.

Despite his tenure ending in disgrace, he only has happy memories.

"It's just a shame it has ended like this but it has been a fantastic journey, there have been fantastic people who I have worked with, some incredible athletes," he added.

Cycling Australia on Friday announced the finalists for the 2016 Jayco Cycling Australia Awards to be held on 18 November in Melbourne.

Just three weeks remain until the night that celebrates the 2016 year of cycling, and with a host of outstanding world class performances in 2016 throughout the world, the quality finalists lists reads as the who’s who of Australian cycling.

Individual award winners for 2016 will be announced for juniors, elite and masters for the disciplines of Para-cycling, Mountain Bike, Track and Road.

The night will culminate with the presentation of the Sir Hubert 'Oppy' Opperman Medal & Trophy to the 2016 Australian Cyclist of the Year. The Oppy Medal winner will come from the field of elite cyclists listed below.

The Subaru People's Choice Award winner will also be named, with thousands of cycling fans casting their votes for their favourite cyclist from 2016, while the 2016 class of will be inducted into the Cycling Australia Hall of Fame.

The night will also feature an on stage Anna Meares tribute who recently announced her immediate retirement from cycling after 15 years at the international level where she claimed six Olympic medals and eleven world titles.

Awards also to be announced and presented on the night include the Coach of the Year, Subaru National Road Series champions in both the individual and teams classifications, the Subaru Australian Club Premiership, plus the Norm Gailey Trophy for Champion State.

Elite Cyclists of the Year
Para-cycling Female Carol Cooke (VIC), Jessica Gallagher (VIC) + Maddie Janssen QLD, Sue Powell (ACT)
Para-cycling Male Kyle Bridgwood (QLD), Alistair Donohoe (VIC), David Nicholas (QLD)
MTB Female Caroline Buchanan (ACT), Tracey Hannah (QLD), Janine Jungfels (QLD)
MTB Male Troy Brosnan (SA), Jason English (NSW), Sam Hill (WA)
Track Female Annette Edmondson (SA), Anna Meares (SA), Rebecca Wiasak (ACT)
Track Male Matthew Glaetzer (SA), Michael Hepburn (QLD), Sam Welsford (WA)
Road Female Katrin Garfoot (QLD), Chloe Hosking (ACT), Amanda Spratt (NSW)
Road Male Mathew Hayman (ACT), Michael Matthews (ACT), Richie Porte (TAS)

Junior Cyclists of the Year
MTB Female Sian A'Hern (NSW) Sarah I'ons (NSW) Ruby Wilson (ACT)
MTB Male Jackson Frew (ACT), Josh Clarke (NSW) Remy Morton (QLD)
Track Female Tahlay Christie (WA), Kristina Clonan (QLD), Jade Haines (WA)
Track Male Kelland O’Brien (VIC), Conor Rowley (VIC), Cameron Scott (NSW)
Road Female Madeleine Fasnacht (TAS), Jaime Gunning (QLD), Chloe Moran (SA)
Road Male Macgregor Carter (VIC), Alastair Christie-Johnston (VIC), Harry Sweeny (QLD)

Under 23 Cyclists of the Year
Caleb Ewan (NSW), Callum Scotson (SA), Sam Welsford (WA)

Masters Cyclists of the Year
MTB Female Sharon Heap (QLD) Charlie McCabe (NSW), Anna Puckridge (SA)
MTB Male Les Heap (QLD) Jason Archer (WA) Craig Peacock (VIC)
Track Female Janine McKinnon (SA), Laurelea Moss (QLD), Tegan Meredith (QLD)
Track Male Gary Mandy (NSW), Chris Murray (NSW), Michael Smith (NSW)
Road Female Anna Davis (VIC), Gaye Lynn (NSW), Nicky Rolls (QLD)
Road Male Danny Clark (VIC), Andrew Gray (VIC), John Horsburgh (NSW)

Coach of the Year
Peter Day (CA HPU Para-cycling)
Tim Decker (CA HPU Men’s Track Endurance)
Mark Fenner (Avanti Isowhey Sports)
Gary West (CA HPU Track Sprint)

Subaru People’s Choice Award Finalists
Kyle Bridgwood, Caroline Buchanan, Carol Cooke, Rohan Dennis, Jessica Gallagher, Katrin Garfoot, Matthew Glaetzer, Lucas Hamilton, Tracey Hannah, Mathew Hayman, Michael Hepburn, Chloe Hosking, Melissa Hoskins, Michael Matthews, Daniel McConnell, Anna Meares, David Nicholas, Richie Porte, Amanda Spratt, Sam Welsford and Sam Willoughby.

Hall of Fame Inductees 2016 (announced 19/10/16)
Ryan Bayley OAM (Athlete category)
Oenone Wood (Athlete category)
Iris Dixon (nee Bent) (Athlete category)
Chris Scott OAM (Athlete category)
Mary Daubert (nee Grigson) (Athlete category)
Alf Goullet (Athlete category, posthumous)

Competitors at a world cycling competition in Qatar this month may have enjoyed the hospitality but they also struggled in a swirl of heat, wind, dust and humidity.

If the presence of such top riders as Peter Sagan (SVK) and Marc Cavendish (GBR) for the UCI Road World Championships fed the Gulf state's ambitions of becoming an international sporting capital, the event also highlighted some of the strains the country could face when it hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022.

Qatar is using its wealth to host a flurry of big competitions, including the Asian soccer cup, the Men's Handball World Championships, and the FINA World Swimming Championships. It is expected to bid for the 2028 summer Olympic Games.

But the push, led by a young emir, is costing billions at a time when low oil and gas prices are crimping budgets. And there are other obstacles.

In Qatar's extreme heat, riders stuffed ice packs down their jerseys to try and keep cool as temperatures reached 39 degrees Celsius.

The riders struggled in strong desert winds, common throughout the year. On 9 October, Anouska Koster (NED), crashed off her bike during a race due to heatstroke.

Seeking to allay concerns about the heat, Qatar is planning at least five stadiums with built-in air conditioning, some using solar power, that it says can be used all year round.

FIFA said in 2015 that the World Cup would be switched to winter when temperatures still reach the mid-20 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) to avoid the fierce heat of June and July.

ISRAELI FLAGS

The cycling event saw some Qataris revelling in becoming the first Arab hosts of the 89-year-old competition, traditionally held in Western Europe.

But only a handful turned out to spectate, opting instead to watch it on television. Others criticised road closures that snarled highways with traffic.

The appearance of a team of Israeli riders in the competition led some Qataris to level rare, if oblique, criticisms at their government.

Qatari social media users shared pictures of a rider training in Doha with Israeli flags on her jersey and used the hashtag "No to the presence of Zionists in Qatar" to criticize government ministries for "normalizing" Israel.

Qatar, like most Arab states, has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It closed an Israeli trade office in Doha after the 2009 Gaza war.

But it has hosted Israeli athletes in previous competitions, including two beach volleyballers in April, and has said Israel would be allowed to compete in the World Cup should it qualify.

"We have no choice but to follow the international sports rules," said Reem, a medical student who declined to give a second name. "Hosting Israelis, yes it makes us feel uncomfortable. But it's better to keep politics out of sport."

WOMEN'S RACE

While dust storms, restrictions on alcohol and brutal summer temperatures make Qatar an unlikely sporting hub, officials say sport is at the heart of the country's development and a plan to diversify the economy away from oil and gas.

On a Sports Day national holiday Emir Sheikh Tamim makes public appearances and plays football with schoolchildren.

Tamim's sister, Sheikha Mayassa, has organised an annual women's bike race since 2009.

The country adheres to the same Wahhabist creed as Saudi Arabia, but women in Qatar are free to drive and Islamic law is only applied to Muslims and Qatari nationals.

Some cycling fans bemoaned the lack of alcohol on The Pearl residential island where the races were held, but spectators were able to buy alcohol in nightclubs and restaurants in hotels where drinking is permitted.

During the World Cup Qatar has said it will set up designated "fanzones" where fans will be allowed to consume alcohol.

The question of whether gay couples would be welcome at sporting events has also come up. Islamic-based legal codes govern Qatar and gay sex is punishable by jail.

Gay rights groups have urged Qatar to accept homosexual fans in 2022, when it will be the first Middle Eastern or Muslim country to host the tournament.

A Qatari official told Reuters in August that the World Cup would be "inclusive of people and cultures and uphold the essence of Qatar's own traditions" but did not directly address whether the tournament would welcome gay guests.

The World Cup has also shone a negative light on Qatar. Human rights groups have criticised the conditions of foreign workers who are building the new stadiums and facilities.

Swiss and U.S. authorities are also investigating FIFA's awarding of the tournament to Qatar. It denies any impropriety.

Still, Qatari politicians say hosting sports events is an honour and that cultural differences can be overcome, with sports opening Qatar up to the world.

"It brings with it a lot of added value for our country," Ahmed al-Hemaidi, a Qatar Cycling Federation official, told Doha Stadium magazine.

Sports bodies should butt out of the anti-doping process according to a number anti-doping agencies.

A summit of national doping agencies has called for all anti-doping functions to be freed from the influence of sporting bodies as well as organisers of events so the confidence of athletes in the system can be restored.

The National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) brought together more than 15 national bodies, including the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), for a summit in Bonn, Germany on Wednesday.

Their key proposal was that anti-doping operations should be completely freed from the influence of sporting bodies, who face a potential conflict of interest when faced with doping cases given their duty to also promote their competitions and events.

"Athletes want to compete clean and win," the group said in a joint statement.

"We must restore confidence that anti-doping efforts truly protect the rights of clean athletes, as well as the public's desire for a fair and level playing field.

"All of the reforms agreed upon today, especially ensuring sport interests do not influence the global regulator - WADA - will help to better protect the rights of clean athletes and uphold a level playing field."

The bodies have offered to meet with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) executive committee and International Olympic Commitee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach to discuss sport's role in global anti-doping reform efforts.

WADA, which was set up and is funded in part by the IOC, has been run by former British Olympic Association chairman and IOC vice president Craig Reedie since 2014.

The recommendations were endorsed by agencies from Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and United States.

Merida, as the co-sponsor of the newly created Bahrain-Merida team, presented the bikes riders like Vincenzo Nibali will be straddling in 2017, including the lightweight Scultura, time trial Warp TT and aerodynamic Reacto, for the new season.