Neymar’s custom Scott Foil; Mitchelton-Scott wins without winning at Bira: Daily News Digest

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

It’s a rest day at the Giro d’Italia as the brutal, final mountainous week looms large — but first, tomorrow’s decisive time trial. Mitchelton-Scott leads across men’s and women’s stage races as competition continued at Emakumeen Bira, the Spanish Women’s WorldTour stage race. Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard of Neymar? Check out his slick new ride. All this and more in today’s CT Daily News Digest.


Quote of the day

“I’m still going to focus on the GC. I’m not going to give up.”

Any guesses? See below.


Dispatches from the Giro d’Italia

Froome still focused on general classification

You don’t win the Tour de France four times — or the Vuelta a España, after finishing second three times — by giving up. That’s the mantra Chris Froome is repeating as the Team Sky leader enters the final week of the Giro sitting seventh overall, 4:52 behind race leader Simon Yates.

Froome has had a rollercoaster of a Giro d’Italia, beginning with his crash in Jerusalem while previewing the Stage 1 time trial course. He suffered throughout the first two weeks but rebounded to win Stage 14 atop Monte Zoncolan, the most difficult climb of this Giro, jumping into fifth overall. The following day, he paid the price for the effort, losing 1:32 to Yates, and almost a minute to the rest of the GC contenders, slipping back to seventh on GC. It’s an unusual position for the Tour champion to find himself in with just six stages remaining — a time trial and three big mountain days. But this is Froome, so never say never.

Chris Froome (Team Sky) won ahead of Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) atop Monte Zoncolan on Stage 14.

“I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and I’m certainly not going to expect anything [to be easy] for the rest of this Giro,” Froome said Monday at a rest-day press conference.

“It’s been a brutal race, but it’s also been a beautiful race. This is bike racing at its best and it’s what people want to see. Real edge-of-the-seat stuff and unpredictable racing too. “[The gap] is big, especially the way Simon has been riding, he hasn’t shown one moment of weakness so far and only seems to be getting stronger. I’m still going to focus on the GC. I’m not going to give up.”

Froome also acknowledged that he’d likely paid for his efforts on Monte Zoncolan, but said he’d do it the same way if he had the chance.

“I think it’s quite clear, Zoncolan was going to be the most iconic climb of the Giro, I’d done the recon and I put absolutely everything I had on that climb,” he said. “I went super deep on Zoncolan, it was such an amazing experience and it’s [a decision] I don’t regret. I don’t regret putting everything on the line that day, it was an incredible experience. The atmosphere on the climb, the thousands of people up there  And just taking a step back, to eight years ago when I first rode Zoncolan where I was almost reliant on the public giving me a push every 20 metres just to get up there, and then to come back here eight years later and win is a moment that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”

Yates vs Dumoulin: Power data from Stage 15

Rider data supplied by Velon shows the efforts Giro race leader Simon Yates and 2017 winner Tom Dumoulin were producing on the final 3.5km of Stage 15, finishing in Sappada. In the final 3.5km of his successful solo attack, Yates averaged 330 watts for 5:53, with a maximum power of 470 watts, averaging 35.7km/h. Over the same section, Dumoulin, who sprinted to third on the stage, averaged 395 watts for 5:40, with a maximum power of 1,040 watts — his finishing sprint — averaging 37.2km/h. The average gradient for this section of road was 2.1%.

Poll: After 14 stages, who will win the Giro d’Italia?
After Chris Froome won Stage 14 atop Monte Zoncolan — but before Simon Yates won Stage 15 and took more GC time on all of his rivals, while Froome again slipped — we ran a Twitter poll asking who would win the Giro. With nearly 1,000 votes, 50% of voters selected Yates, while 38% selected defending champ Tom Dumoulin. Amazingly, 11% selected Froome and only 1% selected Thibaut Pinot, even though Pinot sat higher on the general classification. Given how Yates and Froome went in very different directions on the GC on Stage 15, we have to assume these numbers would be different, asked one day later. We’ll run another poll after Tuesday’s 34km time trial and report back with results here.

Tomorrow’s pivotal Giro time trial

Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia is one of the most anticipated of the race. While time trials don’t offer the excitement of a summit finish or a field sprint, the 34km time trial from Trento to Rovereto will be a pivotal day in the fight for maglia rosa. The first rider to start is Giuseppe Fonzi (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia); three hours and ten minutes later, at 4:30pm local time, race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), will roll out of the start house. And then? We shall see.

The lumpy route starts and finishes within urban areas. The central part, along the Adige River, is primarily a straight road. Starting at the Piazza del Duomo in Trento, the route features stretches of cobblestones followed by roundabouts and traffic islands. The stage unfolds on wide, well-paved, and mostly straight streets. The roadway only narrows at points while crossing urban areas. There’s a short climb followed by a short descent and a technical bend, leading back onto straight roads all the way to the finish. The roads are narrower in Rovereto, and a number of 90-degree bends lead into wider avenues, heading for the finish. The home straight is 570 metres long, on a wide asphalt road.

Yates holds both the maglia rosa (GC) and maglia azzurra (KOM) jerseys, though Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) will wear blue in place of Yates. The  maglia ciclamino (points) jersey is held by Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), while the white jersey (maglia bianca) for best young rider currently belongs to Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).


Race Radio

Pieters takes Stage 3 at Emakumeen Bira

Amy Pieters (Boels Dolmans), Stage 3 winner at the 2018 Emakumeen Bira.

Mitchelton-Scott is having a week to remember, leading the GC at both the Giro d’Italia and the Emakumeen Bira Women’s WorldTour. While the Australian team didn’t win Stage 3 Monday in Aretxabaleta, they did add a card to play in the overall battle when a nine-rider group went to the line two minutes ahead of the main bunch.

In that group was Kiwi Georgia Williams (Mitchelton-Scott), who finished ninth on the stage behind Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), who took the top podium spot ahead of Emilia Fahlin (Wiggle High 5) and Clara Koppenburg (Cervélo-Bigla).

“I was lucky with the move that I got into as I was the rider that was placed highest on GC,” Williams said. “The time gap got out to four minutes at one point and that was when sport director Gene Bates gave me the call to ride hard as nothing was happening in the peloton and I was going to be able to take the GC lead. With 15km to go I sat on the front and rode as hard as I could to the finish to try put as much time into the chasing bunch. I gave it everything and wasn’t sure what the time gap was when I crossed the line. I had nothing left for the sprint finish, I put everything into taking time on the peloton.”

Williams moved from tenth to second overall behind teammate and Stage 2 winner Annemiek van Vleuten; her move up the GC pushes Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) into third overall, 12 seconds behind van Vleuten. Just one stage remains, a 120km route starting and finishing in Iurreta with three categorised climbs along the way, the final climb topping out 12km from the finish.


Tech news

Neymar’s custom Scott Foil

Simon Yates may be wearing the maglia rosa at the Giro d’Italia, but he’s not the highest-profile person to get a fancy new Scott bicycle this month. Brazilian football star Neymar Jr. received a custom Scott Foil to help with his rehabilitation from a broken metatarsal sustained in February. With less than a month to go until the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Neymar is currently is cycling for rehab at least one hour each day.

The bike is covered in Brazilian colors and includes personal details, such as Neymar’s tattoo ‘family forever’ on the top tube and down tube, as well as his personal logo and that of the Brazilian federation. Neymar told Mitchelton-Scott mechanic David Fernandez, who presented him with the bike in Paris, that he was aware of the success of Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves at the Giro d’Italia and wished them luck for the rest of the race.


Moving pictures

Who says girls don’t ride bikes? Not us, but that’s the theme behind this new Endura video campaign featuring sponsored female athletes, including Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, as they discuss the obstacles they faced as teenagers, how they overcame them, and what advice they’d give to their 12-year-old selves as part of Endura’s #AllTribesAllWoman campaign.


Happy birthday to…

Quite a few notable riders are celebrating May 21 birthdays, including sprint star Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data), who turns 33, Dutch classics man Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky), who turns 26, and American track and sprint star Daniel Holloway (Texas Roadhouse), who turns 31. Happy birthday, fellas.

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