T'was the day before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for Peter Sagan who was on Skis at Courchevel proving once again that there is nothing he can't do.
Thursday 24 Dec 2015

The 51st Tirenno-Adriatico will start on Wednesday 9 March with a 22.7km team time trial along the Versilia seaside, starting and finishing on the Lido di Camaiore.

"The Tirreno-Adriatico is a complete race that the complete riders want to win. I've raced 12 editions of the race and I can surely affirm that its technical level is extremely high, it's a prestigious trophy and the riders really want to win it." - Paolo Bettini.

The second stage will run 2017km from Camaiore to Pomarance with a 9.4km long final climb reaching gradients of 15 per cent.

The first stage dedicated to the fastest wheels in the peloton will be held on Friday 11, going from Castelnuovo Val di Cecina to Montalto di Castro after 176 kilometres.

The race will start back from Montalto di Castro on Saturday 12 on a route full of climbs and descents, ending in Foligno. It's the longest stage of the "Race of the Two Seas", 216km long.

On Sunday 13 the peloton will face the mountain finish (178km). The riders will start from Foligno before facing four King of the Mountain climbs (Valico del Soglio, Frontignano, Le Arette and Montelago) before the final climb leading to the finish line, 1,208m high on Monte San Vicino. It will be a 13km climb at a 6.6 per cent average and a final false flat.

The following day, from Castelraimondo to Cepagatti (210km) returns to the ideal topography for the sprinters.

The grand finale on Tuesday 15 with the individual time trial (10km) on the San Benetto del Tronto seaside, will crown the King of the Two Seas.

At 39 Pablo Lastras has been around a long time and probably would be racing still in 2016. But a crash at the Vuelta a Catalunya earlier this year has forced him off the bike after 18 seasons with the team now called Movistar. 

It's hard to summarise the career of someone like Lastras, a rider who was often invisible to the English speaking world, but he was a talented and workmanlike rider who understood the self sacrificing nature of the sport. 

He started his professional career at Banesto with victory in the 1997 Memorial Galera, the Spaniard having ridden the 1996 Trofeo Luis Ocaña for the Spanish Under-23 team. Like a world-class creative midfielder in football, he could spread the play and support his team-mates or, when the opportunity arose, he could score stunning individual wins. After several seasons affected by injuries, a perennial issue down the years, Penkas took stage wins in all three Grand Tours over three consecutive campaigns. In the 2001 Giro d'Italia he won at Gorizia; in 2002 he took two stages in the Vuelta, at Córdoba and at Collado Villalba. Finally, in 2003, he took his greatest win in the Tour de France at Saint-Maixent-l’École. Throughout these two decades, which brought him 13 professional wins and many more by his team-mates, Penkas revealed exquisite tact and amiability to journalists and reporters, and to anyone else demanding his attention. He would often take the initiative himself. It was his way of proving that turning the pedals is only one of the duties required of elite professional cyclists.

Cycling Australia has announced that Bendigo will host the 2016 Oceania Road Cycling Championships to be held from 5-6 March 2016.

The best riders from across the Oceania region will battle it out in the road race and individual time trial for the championships in under 19, under 23 and elite categories.

The Oceania Championships is the fifth and final event of a five-event Oceania Tour, which includes the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, Jayco Herald Sun Tour and REV Classic (NZ) and will offer valuable UCI rankings points.

“It is fantastic result for cycling that a Championship event of this calibre, and our great athletes, will be showcased in the region,” Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green said.

“The Championships extend the ‘summer of cycling’ in Australia, with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner, it provides a great platform for our best to race on home soil in front of our great Aussie cycling fans."

Oceania Cycling Confederation President Tracey Gaudry is looking forward to another successful staging of the Championships within Australia with the the past two Championships held in Toowoomba Queensland and the ACT.

“The Oceania Cycling Confederation is delighted that the 2016 Oceania Road Championships will be held in Bendigo, Victoria,” Gaudry said.

“The Championships provides a key opportunity for athletes to gain valuable UCI points and in many events, performances may contribute towards selection for National team representation at World Championships.

“And in a progressive UCI development, the Oceania Champion is entitled to wear the Championship stripes in all competitions throughout the season alongside the Continental champions of Europe, Asia, America and Africa, raising the profile and importance of the Continental Championships in an increasingly global peloton."

Professional cycling teams cannot function without vehicular support and today Giant-Alpecin announced a partnership with MINI Netherlands which will see the team supported by the Clubman in 2016. 

The MINI Cooper SD Clubman has all the right attributes to contribute to the team’s success in the coming year. With its 190 HP and 400 Nm of torque, it can tackle any mountain stage, and its sprint capacity is excellent; it does the intermediate sprint from 80 to 120km/h in 6.9 seconds.

 “In cycling, much is asked of a team car," team CEO Iwan Spekenbrink said. "The MINI Clubman is the perfect reinforcement for our team."

David De La Cruz, Davide Martinelli, Pieter Serry, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Petr Vakoc, Martin Velits and Carlos Verona are the seven Etixx-QuickStep riders to line-up for the 19-24 January Santos Tour Down Under.

With more than three weeks remaining until the start of the first World Tour event of next season, Etixx-QuickStep sports director Rik van Slycke has finalised the seven-man team that will head to Australia.

“We have a young team for the race. Petr Vakoc and Carlos Verona have asked us to go there, which shows how motivated they are. Taking into account his skills and the form which looks promising, Vakoc can go for a good result in the general classification, but we’ll take each step at a time, without putting any pressure on him,” said van Slycke

“He is well-suited to this course and he’ll get the opportunity to be leader in an important race. It’s part of the development process for our young riders, to give them the leadership in some events, to deal with stress and gain experience. As for Carlos, we already saw at the end of last season that he was doing very well, he feels good and wants to continue on this road he’s started.”

Etixx-QuickStep will travel to Australia early, in order to adjust to the high temperatures, and van Slycke hopes for a smooth transition that will eventually help the riders have a strong week.

“A competitive team goes to Australia, a team that can get some nice results. David De La Cruz was here before and can also make himself noticed in the tough stages, while Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Martin Velits and Pieter Serry are ready to work for the team and seize the day. As for Davide Martinelli, one of our newcomers, he’ll ride pressure free, because this will be his first pro race and we don’t want to push him.”