Team perfection on Etna; Bouhanni returns; Dennis remains optimistic: Daily News Digest

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

It was a cracking stage of the Giro up the slopes of Mt. Etna, shaking up the overall classification and providing some insight into the strength of GC contenders, and their teams.

Story of the day: Perfection for Mitchelton-Scott

It looked scripted. Like a video game. Like Mitchelton-Scott director Matt White sat in the driver’s seat of his team car with a remote control, pushing buttons to put Esteban Chaves in the breakaway and to bring Jack Haig with him. Another button to leave Simon Yates in the peloton, protected by the bulk of Svein Tuft and the climbing legs of Mikel Nieve. A third to send Chaves away from his breakaway companions on Etna’s slopes. The last, a big red button with a little flip-off cover on it, to send Yates away from the world’s best climbers and into the maglia rosa.

But bike racing laughs at scripts. Radios aren’t remote controls. Mitchelton-Scott’s perfect day was the result of quick thinking and strong legs, equal parts tactics and the simple fact that Mitchelton-Scott had the strongest riders, not in one group, but two. There were two races on Etna, and the team won both of them.

Click through to read more.

Dispatches from the Giro d’Italia

Chavez takes Etna, Yates takes pink

Mitchelton-Scott had a superb day on stage six of the Giro d’Italia, winning the stage with Esteban Chaves ahead of Simon Yates, and taking the Maglia Rosa with the latter rider. Chaves infiltrated the break of the day and then struck out alone on the final climb of Mount Etna. Yates was with the main favourites but was strong enough to jump across the gap, join his teammate and then drag him to the finish line. He eased back to gift the victory, content with the pink jersey he seized from Rohan Dennis.

Highlights from Stage 6 of the Giro d’Italia

“It is unbelievable,” said Chaves. “It was a really hard stage here at Etna. I want to say thank you to Jack [Haig], he pulled a lot in the breakaway. In the final, I arrived with Yates. I passed [the line] first, he took the Maglia Rosa. How unbelievable is that? I think also I am in the King of the Mountains jersey, so this is unbelievable. It is like a dream.”

Third place went to Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), 26 seconds back, with George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) next across the line. Defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Chris Froome (Team Sky) also finished in this group, although the latter was dropped several times on the climb.

Dennis was in more trouble and conceded one minute and four seconds to Chaves. Yates now leads overall, holding a 16-second advantage over Dumoulin and a 26-second gap over Chaves. Dennis drops from first to sixth and is 53 seconds behind the jersey he held since the end of stage two.

Dennis loses pink but retains hope of high overall finish in Giro

Rohan Dennis gave up the pink jersey on Thursday when he cracked on the slopes of Mount Etna. The Australian yoyoed back and forth before finally finishing one minute and four seconds back in 21st place. He dropped to fifth overall and is now 53 seconds off the Maglia Rosa.

But he’s staying optimistic. “I was actually pretty happy with my climb today. There were points where I was in trouble but I stayed calm and actually rode back on to the guys that were the winners in the end,” he said. “So I took confidence from the fact that they can go a little bit deeper than me, the spikes of power and whatnot, but they can’t sustain it. And I just have to keep reminding myself of that.”

Froome hangs on

Sky’s Chris Froome hung on by a thread up the slopes of Etna, frequently dangling off the back of the favorites but crossing the line to lose no time to chief rival Tom Dumoulin.

“I’m just happy to tick this day off,” he said.

Davide Formolo, a laid-back perfectionist

Sporting glasses and a mop of curly hair, and appearing laid-back and zany, Davide Formolo seems more like a potential cast member of the Big Bang Theory than a pro bike rider.

Appearances can be deceptive. Formolo won a stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2015, landing success in what was his first-ever Grand Tour. He was just 22 at the time and turned heads with that ride. He then went on to finish fourth overall in the 2016 Tour of Poland and ninth overall in the Vuelta.

How good is he? “In the future, he will win the Giro d’Italia. No doubt,” his then team manager Jonathan Vaughters told La Gazzetta dello Sport in January 2015.

Click through to read the full feature on Formolo.

Poll: The most surprising things from stage 6

Tomorrow’s Giro stage

Pizzo to Praia a Mare, 159km

It’s a flat one, almost certainly a sprint. Winds off the coast could present trouble, but the forecast has them at less than 10kph.

2018 Giro d'Italia stage 7 profile

Race Radio

Americans lead EF at Tour of California, Bernal leads Sky

EF-Education First will bring a contingent of Americans to the United States’ biggest stage race. Lawson Craddock, Alex Howes, Logan Owen, and Taylor Phinney will be joined by Australian Simon Clarke, Colombian Dani Martinez, and Brit Dan McLay.

Egan Bernal will lead Team Sky in California and enters as a favourite following a second place overall at the Tour de Romandie. He will be joined by Tao Geoghegan Hart, Sebastian Henao, Luke Rowe, Pavel Sivakov, Ian Stannard, Lukasz Wisniowski.

Nacer Bouhanni on stage 4 of the Dubai Tour 2018

Bouhanni finally turns things around

He’s been on the naughty step with his team due to a lack of results, a questionable attitude and a dust-up with team DS Alain Deloeuil on May 1, but Nacer Bouhanni finally got things back on track on stage three of the Four Days of Dunkirk on Thursday.

The Frenchman won into Ecques, beating new overall leader Timothy Dupont (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Wouter Wippert (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij) and the rest of the main bunch.

“This victory comes at the right time for both Nacer and the team,” said Deloeuil, who appears to have put their recent altercation behind him. “Everyone pulled the same rope and worked to offer us the satisfaction of winning on our territory. I also want to point out that the guys who come back from injury are doing well and doing their share of the job. This is a very good omen for the rest of the race.”

Bouhanni’s last victory dated back to July 2017 and he had been threatened with non-selection for the Tour de France if he didn’t turn things around. He’s now done that and, according to Cofidis general manager Cédric Vasseur, this bodes well. “We had put some pressure on Nacer and were waiting for a reaction from him on the ground. He responded in the best way.”

Tour of Utah names 17 teams for 2018 edition

Along with five WorldTour teams — BMC Racing, EF Education First-Drapac, Mitchelton-Scott, Trek-Segafredo, and LottoNL-Jumbo — the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will host seven Pro Continental teams and five Continental teams.

Returning to Utah for a record eleventh time is UnitedHealthcare; the American Pro Continental team has raced every edition of the Tour of Utah since 2008. Also returning are Rally Cycling, Hagens Berman Axeon, and Holowesko-Citadel. International squads include Italian teams Bardiani CSF and Nippo-Vini Fantini as well as Israel Cycling Academy.

The give Continental squads are 303 Project, Aevolo Cycling, Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, Jelly Belly, and Silber. Rosters for each team may include as many as seven riders, and will be announced in the final week of July.

Vita Karlijn

Saving Team Hitec Products Birk Sport

This week has been a difficult one for the Team Hitec Products Birk Sport squad, with the announcement that it is struggling financially. “Everything is not good for Norway’s only professional women’s team,” it said. “Reduced sponsor income, combined with increasing licence costs from UCI and federations, insurance, travels and equipment all lead to that the team is in financial difficulties, and have already had to reduce the activity and the equipment level.”

The team’s Charlotte Becker won the second stage and the overall classification in the recent Tour of Chongming Island WorldTour event. Past riders such as Elisa Longo Borghini, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Emilia Fahlin have Tweeted their support.

The team said it is dependent on fresh cash from the sponsors to finish the season, and is searching for new partners. It has launched a GoFundMe account, and hopes to raise €50,000. See more here.

A pro mechanic discusses road racing with no front derailleur

This week’s CyclingTips Podcast includes a chat with a pro mechanic for Aqua Blue Sport, which is racing with 1x drivetrains. What does he think of the system?

Moving pictures

UCI Women’s WorldTour – The Spring Classics

A look back on the 2018 Spring Classics by the UCI.

Happy birthday to…

Tim Wellens, who was born on this day in 1991. He is a two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner, taking stage four of this year’s race, and has also won races such as the Eneco Tour, the Tour of Poland, Brabantse Pijl and the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal.


Five-time Tour de France stage winner Joaquim Agostinho, who passed away on this day in 1984. He also won three stages in the Vuelta a Espana and took second overall in the Spanish Grand Tour.

Today’s feature image shows Esteban Chavez climbing the slopes of Mt. Etna, by Gruber Images.

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