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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Simon Yates showed his first sign of weakness in the mountains, German Max Schachman took the stage win at the Giro, Domenico Pozzovivo and Chris Froome’s battle for a podium position, Greipel wins in Belgium, and more.
Quote of the day
“General conversations from this end of the Giro.
“How are you?”
“Yer F##ked, you?”
–Alex Dowsett on Twitter
Story of the day: Yates shows weakness, GC lead cut in half
A single moment of weakness. That’s all it takes before we begin to wonder if the leader of this Giro d’Italia might be beatable after all.
With 1.5km remaining on the climb to Prato Nevoso, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) attempted to take time from race leader Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), but Yates quickly marked the move. Chris Froome (Team Sky) countered, opening a significant gap. Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) followed, with Dumoulin on his wheel, and Yates was put into difficulty. It was the first time we’ve seen him in trouble on a climb this month.
Across the line, Pozzovivo, Dumoulin, and Froome took 28 seconds from Yates, cutting the British rider’s lead over Dumoulin in half, from 56 seconds to 28 seconds.
“Today it was an explosive big effort, which is not my forté,” Yates said. “After Tom Dumoulin’s first acceleration, I looked at him to see how he was. When he went the second time, I couldn’t close the gap. I was tired. But I’m ok with it. I have no regret to have spent a lot of energy earlier in the Giro because this is what I needed to do. If I didn’t race so aggressively before, I would be behind Dumoulin. I collected almost 50 seconds in time bonuses – that’s more than my overall lead now. I only felt bad for one kilometre today. I’m still in the lead and the coming two mountain stages suit me much more than today’s.”
Yates’ loss was Dumoulin’s gain; the defending champion is now within striking distance of the maglia rosa.
“Finally I took some time back,” Dumoulin said. “Today was perfect for me, slow and then full gas uphill. I was waiting until the right moment and at two kilometres to go I tried to see what was possible. Yates responded to my first attack, then Froome attacked and took me and Pozzovivo. Later I found out Yates was dropped, which was, of course, good for me, but I didn’t expect him to drop. It’s been a good day but I know that the coming two days are going to be much different so we will just have to see how things go. The race isn’t over.”
Dispatches from the Giro d’Italia
Schachman delivers another for Quick-Step
Thursday was another day, another Quick-Step Floors victory. This time, it was 24-year-old German Maximilian Schachman crossing the finish line first, taking the Giro d’Italia’s Stage 18 victory atop the climb of Prato Nevoso, 10 seconds ahead of Spanish veteran Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy).
Schachman and Plaza were part of a 12-rider breakaway that opened up a 15-minute advantage over the main peloton on the 196km ride from Abbiategrasso to Prato Nevoso, a steady 15km climb averaging 7%. It was Schachman’s first Grand Tour stage win, Quick-Step’s fifth stage win at this Giro, and the team’s 36th victory of the 2018 season.
“We knew it was probably going to be a good day for a breakaway, although so far none had worked,” Schachmann said. “The first nine attackers went pretty early. I have to say a big thank you to Michael Morkov who took me on his wheel to jump as the last two riders to reach the front group. I knew I had quite good legs, so I tried to bring home the victory in a safe way. I tried to keep energy for the last few meters before the finish line. I knew the last 2km would be fine for me. I didn’t panic when [Ruben] Plaza came across. He’s an experienced rider but I believed he’d be dropped again. With this victory, I’m already pretty close to the top of world cycling. It’s the most enjoyable part of my career but I know it’ll be harder in the future.”
Pozzovivo and Froome: The battle for the podium
While the GC battle looks to be one between Yates and Dumoulin, there’s also a battle for the podium taking place between Pozzovivo and Froome, who are separated by only 39 seconds. It was Froome’s late attack that put Yates into difficulty, benefitting second through fourth overall, but on Friday it’s likely Pozzovivo and Froome will also be attacking one another.
“I was focused on Dumoulin and Froome,” Pozzovivo said. “They attacked as I expected, because the final climb suit them both and their attacks hurt the maglia rosa. My aim is the podium, but I will try to take a win if there is the chance.”
Pozzovivo goal’s may be the podium and possibly a stage win, but Froome, a five-time Grand Tour champion, can really only be satisfied with overall victory, which is not yet out of reach. After reaching his first objective — a stage win on Monte Zoncolan — the Team Sky leader will likely be on the offensive Friday, utilizing his team of super climbers that includes Wout Poels, Sergio Henao, Kenny Elissonde, and David de la Cruz.
“I had no idea (Yates) was on the limit there,” Froome said. “Only when I accelerated did I turn around to see Pozzovivo and Dumoulin with me and not Simon. The race is still on, with two extremely hard days coming up now. We’ve got Colle Delle Finestre tomorrow so there’s all still to race for.”
Velon power data: Dumoulin’s late effort to distance Yates
Following Froome’s late 18 attack, Tom Dumoulin produced a formidable power surge to gain 28 seconds on the maglia rosa. He averaged 470 watts for 3:23 in the final 1.8km, and 650 watts for 45 seconds in the final 370 metres, with a maximum power of 900 watts.
Upcoming: A day at the Giro d’Italia you do not want to miss
Even without all the tired legs, Stage 19 would likely prove to be the most brutal day of this year’s Giro. The 184km queen stage delivers 3,500 metres of elevation gain over four categorized climbs, finishing atop the Category 1 Monte Jafferau climb to Bardonecchia, which maxes out at 14% gradient. Given that GC and stage wins are both hanging in the balance, it could prove to be the most memorable day of racing of this year’s race.
The first climb is the 14km Category 2 climb of Colle del Lys, which tops out after 45km of racing. After dropping into the Dora Riparia valley and reaching Susa, next is the 18km climb up the unpaved Colle delle Finestre, the Cima Coppi – the highest point of the race at 2,200 metres above sea level, coming midway through the stage. The average gradient on the Finestre is 9.2% with some sections reaching 14%. Asphalt for 9km gives way to dirt road for the final 9km before the summit, and the steep climb has 45 hairpin turns.
Photographers Jered and Ashley Gruber rode the Finestre on Wednesday, and described the conditions as “cold, snowy, muddy, dirty, and so wet,” adding that the soft dirt “makes that 9% average gradient feel closer to 12%.” Giro d’Italia organizers are not allowing any caravan vehicles on the Colle delle Finestre.
Shortly after the Finestre is the Colle Sestriere, the 16km climb where Lance Armstrong first earned a yellow jersey at the Tour de France, back in 1999. It’s a Category 3 climb, with a max gradient of 9%.
The stage finishes on the short, steep Monte Jafferau, above the ski resort of Bardonecchia. It’s a 7.2km climb averaging over 9%, with the final 1.5km averaging 10.5%. It’s very likely that here the Giro will be won or lost.
Greipel wins again at Baloise Belgium Tour
German sprinter Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) won again at the Baloise Belgium Tour, this time on a short uphill sprint, beating out Dutch rider Wouter Wippert of Roompot Nederlandse Loterij after a 150km ride from Lochristi to Knokke-Heist. Greipel was very familiar with the uphill finish, having won in Knokke-Heist three times in the past.
A few kilometres from the line, Greipel’s Lotto-Soudal train moved to the front, with Jasper De Buyst delivered the perfect lead-out. Greipel sprinted, on a flat tire, to his second victory in two days.
“It’s never an easy sprint here in Knokke-Heist as it’s a slightly uphill finish, but I timed perfectly and I had a good lead-out,” Greipel said. “I felt my opponents coming, but I could hold them off. It’s always great when a plan comes together. Although that didn’t happen without obstacles. I slipped in the last corner and I noticed I was getting a puncture. I could only hope I could hold on to the finish, and luckily I did.”
Young stars of the sport headed to Critérium du Dauphiné
The 70th edition of the Critérium du Dauphiné will start June 3 with a 6.6 km prologue through the streets of Valence.
The sport’s next generation of climbers highlights the start list with names like Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), Marc Soler (Movistar), Egan Bernal (Team Sky), and Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors). Italian Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) is perhaps the only rider older than 30 with a clear shot at victory.
Also headed to the Critérium du Dauphiné: Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto–Soudal), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo), and Adam Yates (Mitchelton–Scott).
EPO reaches Major League Baseball
Chicago White Sox catcher Welington Castillo has been suspended for 80 games by Major League Baseball for using erythropoietin (EPO).
Wolf Tooth Components and Spurcycle pair up for integrated MTB mount
Wolf Tooth Components and Spurcycle have collaborated a new integrated mount that neatly combines the former’s slick universal dropper seatpost remote lever with the latter’s distinctly audible and dulcet bell. The Wolf Tooth ReMote BellTower incorporates the bell mount directly into the aluminum clamp itself, which not only cleans up the cockpit, but places the bell closer to your thumb than would typically be possible with most handlebar setups.
Current Wolf Tooth ReMote users can upgrade their existing clamps for US$20; a Spurcycle-compatible Wolf Tooth ReMote BellTower will cost US$70; and you can also buy the complete package for US$120, including a DLC-treated Spurcycle bell. More information can be found at wolftoothcomponents.com.
And in case you’re wondering, no, the ReMote BellTower will not work with cheap Spurcycle knock-offs.
Happy birthday to…
Irishman Sean “King” Kelly turns 62 today. During his career Kelly won nine Monuments, four green jerseys at the Tour de France, and 193 pro races in total. He won Paris-Nice seven years in a row and was the first UCI World Cup winner, in 1989. He won the 1988 Vuelta a España, and took multiple wins at Il Lombardia, Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He also took GC victories at the Tour de Suisse, Tour of the Basque Country, and Volta a Catalunya. So yes, he won many races.
Retired pro Joanne Kiesanowski, a three-time Olympian for New Zealand and silver medalist in the scratch race at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, turns 39 today.
Frenchman Tony Gallopin (Ag2r La Mondiale), winner of Clasica San Sebastian and a stage of the Tour de France, turns 30 today.
Danish rider Amalie Dideriksen (Boels-Dolmans), the 2016 world road championship winner in Qatar, turns 22 today.