Yates dominating at the Giro; Froome falls apart; Gaviria wins in California: Daily News Digest

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

Simon Yates and Mitchelton-Scott have the Giro d’Italia in a stranglehold after another impressive performance on the stage 9 summit finish. The Tour of California is underway, and Australia’s toughest one-day race, the Grafton to Inverell, has been run and won. This and more below.

Story of the day: Yates wins in Pink

After three mountain-top finishes, there can be no argument about the strongest climber in the 2018 Giro d’Italia. Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) made his GC rivals look a bit silly on the stage 6 finish to Mt Etna, on stage 8 he rode comfortably to defend his overall lead, and then on stage 9 he was the strongest again, powering clear late to win the stage and extend his overall lead.

Yates’ win puts Mitchelton-Scott in a formidable position ahead of the second rest day with the Australian team currently sitting first and second overall. Yates remains in pink, 32 seconds ahead of teammate Esteban Chaves, the winner of stage 6. Defending champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) is third, at 38 seconds.

“That one was for the boys, the big guys who’ve been riding on the front all day,” Yates said after the stage. “They’ve had a couple of tough days, always riding on the front on some really long stages. That’s for those guys.”

Spoiler alert: the “big guys” of Mitchelton-Scott have many more tough days ahead of them as the team seeks to defend pink. If Yates or Chaves are to win the Giro, they’ll need to get more time on Tom Dumoulin than they already have. The Dutchman could pull back minutes in the stage 16 individual time trial and certainly shouldn’t be written off.

In short, while Mitchelton-Scott will be beyond satisfied after nine stages, the Giro is far from over. In addition to the stage 16 ITT there are still four summit finishes to contend with, and beyond Dumoulin there are a handful of other riders still in contention, not least Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Just about anything can happen from here.

More from the Giro d’Italia

Richard Carapaz makes history on stage 8

While Movistar came into the Giro without a big GC favourite, they go into the second rest day with a real contender. Wearing the white jersey of best young rider, Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz took a thrilling solo win on stage 8 after attacking late on the climb to Montevergine di Mercogliano. In the driving rain the 24-year-old broke clear of the GC favourites, caught the last of the breakaway riders — LottoNL-Jumbo’s Koen Bouwman — then continued on to become the first ever Ecuadorian to win a Grand Tour stage.

“I had great legs from the beginning of the ascent and wanted to try it before the finish because I knew I wouldn’t stand much of a chance if going just for the sprint,” Carapaz said. “I saw there was a good moment to attack with two kilometres to go. Once I jumped, I saw I had the legs to keep this pace until the finish, and it all turned out well.”

It certainly did. That result, plus a seventh on Mt Etna and fifth on stage 9, sees Carapaz move into sixth overall, 1:20 behind Yates.

It’s been a great few weeks for Carapaz — he took his first pro win in late April at the Vuelta Asturias, a race he went on to win overall. He’s continued that form at the Giro and seems destined for more success.

Chris Froome loses more time as Giro tilt unravels

It’s been a long way from the ideal start to the Giro d’Italia for Chris Froome. He came in to the race under a cloud of controversy, he crashed before stage 1 even began, and then he lost 37 seconds on that first day in Jerusalem. He looked unconvincing on the first uphill finish to Mt. Etna, yo-yoing off the back of the favourites group, and then crashed again on stage 8 while riding uphill switchbacks in the wet.

On Sunday’s stage 9, Froome cracked with 2km to go and ended up losing 1:07 to Yates and Chaves. He now sits 11th, 2:27 behind the maglia rosa.

“I was having a tough, tough day,” Froome said afterwards. “I’ve definitely had a rough start to this Giro. So today, I was just trying to hang on as best I could, obviously make it to the rest day tomorrow and then reevaluate the position from there.

“It’s obviously not the ideal situation to be in, having lost a big chunk of time today. I just have to look ahead now, keep fighting, keep doing the best we can and just take it one day at a time. I can definitely appreciate what makes the Giro special. It’s just it’s own, it has its own character compared to other grand tours. It’s unpredictable. It’s almost like the classics version of a grand tour. The race really can get turned on its head at any point.”

While Froome will almost certainly improve his position from here — he should make up time in the ITT — it would be a miracle were he to win the Giro from here.

Poll: The most surprising things from stages 9 of the Giro

The next Giro stage

As mentioned, Monday is a rest day at the Giro d’Italia. The race will resume on Tuesday with stage 10, the longest of the race. Spanning 239km, the riders will head from Penne to Gualdo Tadino, tackling some tough early climbing before a flat finish. A (reduced?) bunch sprint seems the most likely outcome, but perhaps it’s a day for the breakaway?

Race Radio

Fernando Gaviria wins stage 1 of the Tour of California

Opening-stage honours at the Amgen Tour of California have gone the way of Colombian speedster Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors). The 23-year-old outsprinted fellow young-gun Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Marcel Kittel (Katusha-Alpecin) to take his first-ever stage win at the American race, the leader’s yellow jersey, and his fifth win of the year.

Just two riders comprised the breakaway in the 134km Long Beach circuit race — Andrei Krasilnikau (Holowesko-Citadel) and Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare). The pair were caught 5km from the finish.

The 2018 Amgen Tour of California will be contested over seven stages, including two uphill finishes. The first of those uphill finishes comes tomorrow with the tough Gibraltar Road climb (12km at 8%). The fourth edition of the women’s Tour of California (officially the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race empowered with SRAM) starts on Thursday and comprises three stages.

Tour of California podcast, Episode 2: The first sprint and 15 minutes with Egan Bernal

The first stage of the Tour of California ended, predictably, in a sprint. What did we learn from it? Who’s leadout train is firing on all cylinders? Who needs to find their sprint legs? The best sprinters in the world are here, duking it out.

Plus, a 15-minute sit-down with one of the brightest talents in the sport, Colombian Egan Bernal. He’s introspective and has his feet firmly planted on the ground.

Nathan Elliott wins Grafton to Inverell

There can be no doubt: Nathan Elliott (Bennelong-SwissWellness) is the king of the Aussie classics. After back-to-back wins at the Melbourne to Warrnambool, the 27-year-old has now won Australia’s other legendary one-day race: the Grafton to Inverell.

Image: Bruce Wilson/VeloShotz

Elliott was part of a four-rider breakaway that got clear 145km into the 228km race, having Raphael Freienstein (Inform-MAKE), Timothy Cameron (St George Continental) and Jesse Featonby (Drapac EF Cycling) for company. That group was whittled down to just Elliott and Frienstein who came into the finishing straight with a reduced peloton in sight just behind.

Freienstein looked to have the two-up sprint won, but Elliott took the 58th edition of the Grafton to Inverell with a bike throw.

“It was bloody tough,” Elliott said. “I was off the front pretty much all day and I think that there was basically a head wind the whole day. It’s definitely one of my favourite races and every year I train hard and really wanted to win it.”

Tour of California stops use of podium hostesses, introduces equal prize money

The Amgen Tour of California has joined several other races in abandoning the use of podium hostesses. The decision was announced at the pre-race press conference in Long Beach on Friday.

“You’ve been reading about it and you’ve been hearing about it, and this year it was just the timing — it felt like it was the right time to actually make that decision,” said Tour of California Executive Director Kristen Klein. “We’ll continue to have out stage management team and all of our partners that will be involved in all of our ceremonies, so there won’t be many changes, per se, except there won’t be podium hostesses.”

Klein also announced that equal prize money would be available across the men’s and women’s races.

“We are also proud to once again be leading by example, by awarding equal prize money to all of our men’s and women’s finishers including every jersey winner and cyclist standing on the respective podiums,” she said.

Other races to abandon the use of podium hostesses include the Santos Tour Down Under, Vuelta a Espana and the Flanders Classics races.

Cofidis extends sponsorship until 2022

French Pro Continental team Cofidis will ride for at least another four years after its title sponsor extended its commitment through 2022.

Founded in 1997 with funding from the French bank’s chief executive Francois Migraine, the team has had Cofidis as its title sponsor ever since.

Cofidis also sponsors ASO-run races such as the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, helping ensure the team gets wild-card entries to such races.

In other news

Round-the-world cyclists robbed then murdered

In grim news out of Mexico, investigators have said that two round-the-world cyclists first thought to have died in an accident appear to have been murdered.

Bodies of the two riders — Holger Hagenbusch from Germany and Krzysztof Chmielewski from Poland — were found at the bottom of a cliff in the state of Chiapas. Local authorities originally said the pair had fallen, but now, newly appointed special prosecutor, Luis Alberto Sánchez, said that the riders were robbed and killed.

“Our investigations up to now indicate this was an intentional homicide,” he said. “We think that they were travelling short distance from each other, maybe one was assaulted first … and then the second one arrived and they were both captured.”

Read more at the BBC.

Moving pictures

Mitchelton-Scott on Yates stage win and another day in pink

Moments in history

The Giro’s stage 9 GC showdown on the Gran Sasso d’Italia was the first mountain used in the Giro d’Italia back in 1909 – nearly 90 years before the race’s most recent visit. Marco Pantani won here 19 years ago:

Happy birthday to …

MTB ace Nino Schurter (32); mainstay of the Aussie domestic road scene, Anthony Giacoppo (32); and the now-retired Johnny Hoogerland (35), best known for being hit by a car at the 2011 Tour de France and flung into a barbed wire fence.

Last but not least, happy birthday to one of the true greats of the sport, Marianne Vos (31).

Today’s feature image shows the final moments of stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia, as captured by Jered & Ashley Gruber.

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