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by Mark Zalewski
January 14, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: UCI amends WorldTour rules for teams, events; Callum Skinner: ‘TUEs distracting from issue of doping’; Kiwi Dion Smith replaces Westra on Wanty Groupe-Gobert; Contador on retirement: ‘race to race and year to year to decide my future’; Many top Dutch riders skipping Amstel Gold Race; Boeckmans honoured at Vuelta presentation; Mathieu van der Poel to miss Sunday’s World Cup; Tickets flying out the door for Cyclocross Worlds; Study finds ‘weekend warriors’ have similar mortality risk as more frequent exercisers; Video: Axeon Hagens Berman team camp; Video: Lossless TV.
After the surprise announcement by Lieuwe Westra to retire from pro cycling, effective immediately, a spot opened up on the Wanty Groupe-Gobert team for the 2017 season. Wieler Flits reports that Westra’s addition to the team had forced another off, and the rider that initially had the spot, Dion Smith, was subsequently reinstated onto the team.
Dion Smith (second from left, finished on the podium at the 2015 Tour of Alberta 2015, stage 6.
Sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren said that in the fall he received a call from Westra inquiring about riding for the team. “He was determined to leave Astana and come to our team. With such a good rider, you do not doubt,” Van der Schueren told Wieler Flits.
“We have been following Dion for a while and his consistence has always attracted us,” Van der Schueren elaborated in a press release. “We are happy to welcome a rider with his profile in the team. He is a true allrounder, able to express himself on all types of terrain. I want to see him at work to discover his limits. After the Herald Sun Tour in Australia, he will return with us to compete in the Tour of Algarve. “
Westra confirmed yesterday that a battle with depression, along with legal troubles, forced him to make his decision to retire.
Smith spent 2017 with One Pro Cycling, finishing third in the best young rider category and fifth overall at the 4 Jours de Dunkerque along with multiple other top-10 results. He recently finished on the podium at the New Zealand Road Championship. Prior to that he raced with the Hincapie Development team. The team said that Smith had signed a contract for two seasons, and will ride with the team through 2018.
Click through to read more at Wieler Flits.