Dennis victorious as Yates defends; Spratt pulls off a coup at Bira: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

Time trial day arrived at the Giro d’Italia, and while the GC picture became a little more clear, there wasn’t much in the way of drama. Mitchelton-Scott took the overall victory at the Emakumeen Bira, the Spanish Women’s WorldTour stage race, though not how you might have guessed. And it looks like Team Sky may be sending Colombian phenom Egan Bernal to the Tour de France after all. All this and more in today’s CT Daily News Digest.


Story of the day: Winners and losers of the Giro’s race of truth

Weeks of speculation collided with the moment of truth at the Giro d’Italia Tuesday in Rovereto, the finish line of a flat and fast 34km Stage 16 time trial that was thought to be decisive for the general classification. And while in some ways it was, in many ways it was not. The top three on the general classification did not change positions, though race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and second-placed Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) are now further ahead of all but one of their GC rivals.

While Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) won the stage, 14 seconds ahead of Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin), Yates put time into all podium contenders other than Dumoulin, who was third on the stage, 22 seconds behind Dennis, and Chris Froome (Team Sky), who finished fifth, 35 seconds behind Dennis and 13 seconds slower than Dumoulin.

Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), winner of Stage 16 of the 2018 Giro d’Italia, a 34km time trial from Trento to Rovereto.

Beyond Dennis, it’s fair to say that Yates and Froome were the day’s other big winners — Yates because he lost only 1:15 to Dumoulin, retaining his GC lead by 56 seconds, and Froome because he moved up the GC from seventh to fourth overall, 3:50 behind Yates, but only 39 seconds behind third-placed Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida).

Dumoulin could not really be considered a winner or a loser on the day — let’s call it a draw. The world time-trial champion didn’t win the stage, he didn’t take as much time out of Yates as he’d hoped, and he didn’t take the maglia rosa, but he’s also now within one minute of the race lead, and the only rider in a position to challenge Yates, as unlikely as that may be.

One surprise on the day was Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), who was last seen dropped from the group of GC contenders on Stage 15, losing 25 minutes on the day and dropping from 13th to 22nd overall. The rest day clearly did the Italian some good, as he finished sixth on the stage, just 37 seconds behind Dennis; he was later docked 20 seconds by race jury for drafting behind a course vehicle, moving him to eighth on the stage. Aru’s GC position did not change from before the stage, however, as he still sits 22nd overall.

Among GC riders, the day’s biggest losers include Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Richard Carapaz (Movistar), and George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo), all of whom dropped down the general classification. Pinot finished 66th on the stage, 3:19 down, and dropped from fourth to fifth overall; Carapaz finished 52nd, 2:57 down, and dropped from sixth to ninth; and Bennett, who once again had mechanical issues, placed 56th, 3:04 down, and dropped from eighth to tenth overall.


Quotes from the Giro d’Italia’s 34km time trial stage

Dennis: ‘A big day for me’

Rohan Dennis won the stage, his first Giro d’Italia stage win, 14 seconds ahead of Tony Martin, with an average speed of 51.3 km/h. He moves from 11th overall to sixth place with five stages remaining.

“I wanted to get a stage win here and I was hoping it would be in Israel. It didn’t happen there but we were able to get the pink jersey. It’s great to be able to pay the team back for all the hard work they have done this week and get a stage win as well as move back up into the top ten.

“It’s an unknown for me when it comes to riding for the general classification, in the mountains in the third week. I am going to just take each day as it comes and try to hold onto that top 10 spot. I’ve looked at the stages to come and they are all hard. I don’t know how I am going to react to these three big days.”

Yates: ‘I’m really happy’

Race leader Simon Yates defended his maglia rosa and now holds a 56-second lead over Tom Dumoulin.

“I am really happy, I felt good in the first 20-25km. I had a good rhythm and felt like I was going well. I wasn’t losing so much time and I was really trying to hold my position, but in the final ten kilometres I really died a thousand deaths. I thought I would lose a lot more, but I managed to hang on and I am really happy with that.

“I think after today it will change our tactics for the coming stages and I think, unfortunately for the fans we will have to be a lot more defensive. We’ll see how it plays out, there’s quite a big gap to some of the guys behind me now, Tom (Dumoulin) is only 56 seconds, but to the others it’s a good gap. There’s still a long way to go to Rome. I hope I don’t have any bad luck or bad days. I’ll see what I can do… I don’t feel very fresh at this stage of the Giro; I feel pretty tired and there are very difficult stages to come. Anybody within 10 minutes is still dangerous. In the Giro, a lot of strange things happen.”

Dumoulin: ‘A bit disappointed’

Defending champion Tom Dumoulin finished third on the stage, 22 seconds behind Dennis and 1:15 ahead of Yates.

“I was aiming for the win or to take a lot of time back on Yates, which didn’t work out completely. Yates was incredible again and I couldn’t accelerate further during the TT. I gave my all and have to be satisfied with the result, although I am a bit disappointed with the outcome. It’s still a long way to Rome and being less than one minute to pink doesn’t rule me out of anything.”

Froome: ‘Still a lot could happen in this race’

Reigning Tour and Vuelta champion Chris Froome took time on all GC contenders other than Dumoulin, moving up the general classification from seventh to fourth overall.

“I think it’s all to race for. Simon has been untouchable so far, so it will be interesting to see how he goes after the time trial and he goes in this last block, but I can’t see anyone taking that jersey off his shoulders. Tomorrow should be a straightforward day on paper, but this is the Giro  — anything could happen —  then we’ve got three really big mountain stages back to back and those are generally where we’ve seen some big updates if there are going to be any. Still a lot could happen in this race. The parcours leads to some very aggressive racing, so let’s see.”

Preview: Tomorrow’s Giro stage, a day for the sprinters — or the breakaways?

With the time trial over, three big mountain stages remain on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But first, a 155km transition stage from Riva del Garda to Iseo. It’s a day that looks set for the sprinters, but it starts with a 10km climb of Molina de Ledro, where a breakaway will likely form — and some sprinters will be dropped. It will be a fast start, and very hard to control. This hasn’t been a very fruitful Giro for the breakaways thus far — will tomorrow be different? The route takes a first pass over the finish line in Iseo before entering the final 23.9km circuit, giving sprinters a chance to judge the 300m home straight.


Race Radio

Spratt solos to Stage 4 victory and overall title at Emakumeen Bira

The Emakumeen Bira saw the third race leader in four stages, and this one was for keeps. Australian Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), winner of the Tour Down Under earlier this year, soloed to victory on the final stage, moving from tenth overall to first, leapfrogging her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten on the general classification in the process.

Tuesday’s final stage proved to be the hardest of the race, with two ascents of the steep 6km Urkiola climb, which averages over 9% and is considered to be one of the hardest climbs in the Basque region. Spratt chose her moment to attack alone after the first trip up the Urkiola, and as the race wore on her advantage grew to over two minutes over a reduced chase group. With 2km left to go, Elisa Longo-Borghini (Wiggle-High5), took her chances to bridge across, but Spratt proved too strong, holding off the chase to claim the stage victory by over one minute — and the GC by 48 seconds.

“I am really happy, we came here with some good GC options with Annemiek and Georgia, and I was the one people were probably not looking at as much and I used that to my advantage,” Spratt said.

Marca reports that Team Sky sensation Egan Bernal will make Grand Tour debut at Tour de France

What’s certain: Team Sky’s 21-year-old Colombian sensation Egan Bernal is one of the most promising talents in pro cycling in the past 20 years. What’s uncertain: When exactly Bernal will make his Grand Tour debut.

Midway through only his third road season, the former mountain-bike racer has had an incredible WorldTour debut — sixth at Tour Down Under, a Colombian national TT title, first overall at Colombia Oro y Paz (ahead of Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Uran), a dramatic crash on the final stage of Volta Ciclista a Catalunya (while sitting second overall), second overall at Tour de Romandie (including a stage win in the uphill time trial), and first overall at the Amgen Tour of California, with two mountain stage wins.

Did we mention he’s 21? That’s what makes his results all the more impressive, but also makes his inclusion on Team Sky’s eight-man Tour de France roster a bit baffling. It’s rare that a team takes a Grand Tour debutant to the Tour de France, particularly when that team is defending the overall title. Prior to the Amgen Tour, Bernal had told CyclingTips he believed he would take some rest after a race-heavy spring, and perhaps race his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España.

Overall winner Egan Bernal (Team Sky) poses in a Lexus SUV after stage 7 of the 13th Amgen Tour of California. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images for AEG.

However Marca cites “several sources,” including Bernal’s agent Giuseppe Acquadro, as saying the decision to send the young rider to the Tour was made after his impressive California performance, where he finished 1:25 ahead of Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing).

“In the end, if he went to the Vuelta, he would have more pressure than in the Tour, because many eyes would be fixed on him and he would have leadership responsibilities,” Acquadro told Marca. “Going to the Tour de France in the shadow of Chris Froome, the young rider can race more quietly — work and learn, but without pressure.”

Jolien D’Hoore fractures collarbone, undergoes surgery

Belgian star Jolien D’Hoore (Mitchelton-Scott) fractured her clavicle Monday while racing at the open-air velodrome in Dudenhofen, Germany. A multiple-time national road and track champion — and bronze medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympic omnium event — D’Hoore crashed while racing the Madison when he collided with another competitor.

It’s another bit of bad news for the Mitchelton-Scott team, which is already missing Australian Lucy Kennedy, who is recovering from a broken clavicle, scapula and eye socket from a crash at the Amstel Gold Race last month. However the team can take solace in Spratt’s overall title and two stage wins at Emakumeen Bira — as well as Simon Yates’ commanding performance at the Giro d’Italia.

U.S. amateur cyclist suspended four years for refusal to provide urine sample

USADA announced Tuesday that amateur cyclist Scott Gross, of Orange Park, Florida, accepted a four-year sanction for an anti-doping rule violation due to his refusal to provide a urine sample.

Gross, 59 — that’s correct, he is 59 years old —  refused to provide a sample as requested by a doping control officer during an out-of-competition test on May 3, 2018. Evading sample collection, or refusing or failing to submit to sample collection, without compelling justification, is a doping violation under World Anti-Doping Code. His four-year period of ineligibility began on May 3, the date he refused to provide a urine sample.


Tech news

A bargain-priced high-end carbon gravel machine — with a catch

Direct-to-consumer brands like Canyon, YT Industries, and Rose are already changing buyer expectations on what bikes should cost, and a pair of industry veterans are pushing the low-cost model even further with upstart brand Thesis. Its new OB1 do-it-all carbon fiber road/gravel/adventure bike comes remarkably well equipped for the US$2,999 asking price, but there’s one big catch: aside from the wheels, it comes completely disassembled.

But if you’re willing to do the work yourself (or to pay someone else to do it for you), the build kit of the OB1 is impressive. Buyers get their choice of SRAM Apex 1 or Rival 22 brakes and transmissions, very wide 650b or 700c tubeless carbon clinchers, and their selected size for the house-brand hollow-forged aluminum crankarms, stem, and handlebar. You even get to pick from three frame colors and six shades of bar tape.

Also included is the uncertainty of purchasing from an unknown brand with an unproven reputation and no guarantee of long-term support — and for now, Thesis is only shipping OB1s to addresses in the United States. Still, the prospect is enticing, and we’re definitely interested in checking one out in person when they become available in a few weeks time. More information can be found at thesis.bike.

New tool kits from Silca

Following up on its premium HX-One shop-level tool kit, Silca has now added the more consumer- and travel-friendly HX-Two and HX-Three kits. These hex and Torx tools feature the same S2 steel construction, and the same colored and textured finishes, as the HX-One, but with more practical molded plastic holders instead of the fancy hardwood case, and without the additional bit adapters.

The US$75 HX-Two includes both hex (1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10mm) and Torx (T7, T8, T9, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, and T30) wrenches, while the US$35 HX-Three includes just the hex tools. Both are available immediately through silca.cc.

USA Cycling brings on brain stimulation sponsor

USA Cycling announced that it has signed a wide-ranging partnership with Halo Science, creators of the brain-stimulation technology Halo Sport. Halo Sport is a neuro-stimulator headset device that its manufacturer claims allows the brain to retain better, faster, more accurate skills and muscle memory — such as pedal stroke. Athletes on USA Cycling’s National Teams, including BMX, BMX Freestyle, cyclocross, mountain, road, and track will have the chance to experience Halo Sport and also support research in the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in cycling skills and endurance.

https://cyclingtips.com/2017/10/brain-stimulation-improve-sports-performance-work-safe/


Moving pictures

This video, taken a few weeks ago on Melbourne’s Beach Road, shows a pair of racehorses that got away and started galloping through a group ride. Fortunately there were no cars around at the time, and no horses nor cyclists were injured.

VeloClub member Damien Cook (front and center on the Trek) posted an account on the VeloClub Facebook page: “A few weeks ago while riding through Seaford on Beach Road my friends and I were joined by a couple of escaped race horses. It was a bit scary at the time. The crashing of horse shoes on the bitumen was deafening. ‘Horse behind’ is not the usual warning while on the bike. The horses got away from the horse beach, the minders had no bloody idea where they were. Ended up at the back of the Riviera Hotel.”

Happy birthday to…

Former professionals Jean-Christophe Peraud and Christian Vande Velde are celebrating birthdays today — Peraud, who finished second at the 2014 Tour de France riding for Ag2r La Mondiale, is 41, while Vande Velde, who finished fourth at the 2008 Tour riding for Garmin-Chipotle, is 42.

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