NTT riders on the move, Navardauskas retires: Daily News Digest

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Hello again, CyclingTips readers,

As we close in on the weekend, the cycling headlines continue to feature a bit more transfer news than you might typically expect from November. This time, it’s two riders from the NTT team heading to two different squads for 2021, along with the other stories of the day.

Read on for more …

Dane Cash and Abby Mickey

What’s News

| Louis Meintjes signs with Circus-Wanty Gobert

Louis Meintjes will join Circus-Wanty Gobert next season, the Belgian squad announced on Thursday. The 28-year-old South African has been with NTT since 2018 in what is his second stint with the organization after he turned pro with the MTN-Qhubeka team back in 2013.

Meintjes, a two-time top 10 finisher at the Tour de France, represents a big step up in the GC rider department for Circus-Wanty Gobert as it prepares for an expected upgrade to WorldTour status next season. The longtime second-division squad has acquired CCC’s WorldTour license and has applied to join cycling’s top division in 2021.

“By adding Louis Meintjes to our squad, we reinforce our team for the mountainous World Tour races,” said Circus-Wanty Gobert performance director Aike Visbeek.

“He’s already proven his capabilities by finishing twice in the top 10 of the Tour de France. We’re convinced that his career can continue crescendo with Circus-Wanty Gobert. Louis reached a mature age, and this new ambitious environment in full growth will motivate him to step up to a higher level. We will establish a programme which suits him, focused on mountainous World Tour stage races like the Tour de Romandie, the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de France.”

| Ben King is headed to Rally

Also departing from NTT at the end of the season will be Ben King, who has signed on to join Rally in 2021. For King, the move is a return to an organization he raced for way back in 2008 when it was the Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast team.

Since then, King has gone on to be a seasoned WorldTour pro, with a palmares that includes a pair of Vuelta a España stage wins he picked up in 2018. He will bring that experience to a Rally team that is continuing its effort to expand its international profile.

“I love the vision of the team, the direction it has been headed for the decade I’ve been away,” King said. “It’s exciting to be a part of that, hopefully to be an influence on the further growth of the team. With Joey Rosskopf also coming, and the results the team achieved with Gavin Mannion and Keegan Swirbul at the end of the season, I’m excited to be going into that environment.”

| Report: Dutch cycling federation did not publicize doping positive in 2011

According to Wielerflits, the Dutch cycling federation (the Royal Dutch Cycling Union or KNWU) hid the doping positive of a rider in 2011. The rider, who spoke to Wielerflits but whose identity has not been published, reportedly tested positive for EPO in May of that year, retired immediately after returning the positive result, and received a ban, but the matter was not made public. Wielerflits reports that the rider in question said he was going through personal difficulties at the time of the incident and asked for the positive test not to be publicized.

For now, it is not clear whether the UCI or WADA were notified of the positive test as required for anti-doping rule violations.

| Ramunas Navardauskas retires

Ramunas Navardauskas, who has been riding for the Nippo Delko One Provence team for the past two seasons, is stepping away from professional cycling.

In an interview with La Provence, the versatile Lithuanian expressed frustration with the last four years of his career. It’s been a roller coaster for the seven-time Lithuanian National Champion since he was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia in 2017. At the time, Navardauskas was riding for Bahrain-Merida, fresh off a six-year stint with various iterations of the Slipstream Sports organization that has since become the EF team.

The health issues combined with his current team’s financial and ethical struggles may be a reason Navardauskas is calling it, but in the end, he simply isn’t enjoying racing his bike anymore. “I was fighting against myself. All of that back-to-back, I need to rest, to take life more calmly, to forget about cycling a bit,” Navardauskas told La Provence. “Maybe I’ll regret it in a few years, but right now, I’ve had enough. I just want to live easily.”

Over his 10-year career, Navardauskas has some very impressive results, including a stage win at the Giro d’Italia and at the Tour de France. He was also third in the 2015 World Championships road race in Richmond behind Peter Sagan and Michael Matthews.

“When I was a junior, I didn’t think about going pro, but in the end, I’ve had a great career lasting 10 years,” he said. “I’ve had some beautiful victories. It was a great adventure.”

| Moving Pictures

Like so many of us, Australian rider Cyrus Monk is finding interesting ways to stay busy right about now, and we highly recommend checking out some of his fine musical work.

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