Yates’ Giro three-peat; Climbers win in California: Daily News Digest

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

Simon Yates’ dream Giro continues with a third stage win and more time gained over his main rivals. Climbers emerged victorious in the men’s and women’s Tours of California, Nino Schurter was back to his winning ways at the MTB World Cup, and there were bizarre scenes at the Tour de Filipinas over the weekend. All this and more in today’s CT Daily News Digest.


Quote of the day

This doozy comes from Tom Dumoulin after finishing stage 15 of the Giro. With Yates up the road, Dumoulin tried unsuccessfully to get the other GC contenders to work with him.

“I don’t give a damn at this point. I’m totally fucked now,” Dumoulin said of the lack of cooperation. “I had to dig so deep to stay with those other riders after Yates’ attack. And in the end it didn’t even matter, cause everybody there was just taking the piss. If I immediately started riding by myself, I would have lost a lot less time on Yates. Because of them taking the piss I lose a lot more.”


Dispatches from the Giro d’Italia

Yates pads lead ahead of crucial time trial

Ever since Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) emerged as the best climber at this year’s Giro, there’s been one question on everyone’s mind: will he have enough of a buffer over Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) to account for the time the defending champion will take back in the stage 16 ITT? We know that question’s been on Yates’ mind too — he’s been fighting for every second he can.

Case in point: Sunday’s stage 15 in the Dolomites. Yates went clear on the penultimate climb of the day, 17km from the finish, and stayed away to take his third stage win of the race. By finishing 41 seconds ahead of a small group of favourites, including Dumoulin, Yates now leads the Dutchman by 2:11 going into Tuesday’s 34km ITT.

Will it be enough time to stay in pink by the end of the time trial? It seems possible, if not probable. Regardless, Yates will have three days in the mountains after the time trial to make up more ground if he loses the maglia rosa on the road to Rovereto. With the way he’s been climbing lately, he’s the red-hot favourite to win the race overall.

Froome drops more time

His stage 14 win on Monte Zoncolan was a significant reversal of fortunes for Chris Froome, the Sky leader soloing to victory after a tough two weeks at the Giro. A day later, though, the Briton was struggling once more, getting dropped by the other GC leaders and losing more than 90 seconds to Yates.

“[It’s] very disappointing, but that’s racing — when you spend so much energy one day, you pay the next,” Froome said. “I spent so much yesterday to win the stage it’s normal that I didn’t have the legs today.”

That result sees the four-time Tour de France winner drop from fifth to seventh overall, nearly five minutes down on his compatriot in pink. He’s likely to peg back some time in the stage 16 ITT but as things stand, it would be a surprise to see Froome finish the Giro any higher than fifth overall.

Aru’s implosion

It had already been a frustrating Giro for Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) and no stage encapsulated that more than yesterday’s grind through the Dolomites. With 33km to go, Aru found himself isolated, coming to a near-halt as his body gave out.

Aru was spotted shooing away TV cameras at one stage and an abandon seemed likely. But his teammates rallied around him and he eventually made it to the finish, dropping nearly 20 minutes and falling to 22nd overall.

“This is not the real Fabio Aru,” the Italian said later. “This is not my normal level. Something unusual is happening, and we will try to find out why.

“Today was a truly difficult day, both physically and psychologically. I want to thank my teammates for staying close to me. It’s obvious that something is not right.”

The next Giro stage

There’s no Giro stage today — instead the riders will enjoy their third rest day after 15 stages of hard graft. The racing resumes on Tuesday with the much-discussed stage 16 individual time trial, a 34km effort from Trento to Rovereto that has a few lumps and bumps but no climbs of any great note.

Dumoulin is the favourite to win the stage, just like he did in the stage 1 ITT in Jerusalem, but as mentioned, the real focus will be on how much time he can pull back on Yates.


Race Radio

Egan Bernal wins the Tour of California

He’s one of the most exciting prospects that road cycling has ever seen and this past weekend, Colombian phenom Egan Bernal (Sky) took another step towards the greatness he seems destined for.

He’d won on the Amgen Tour of California’s first uphill finish, putting himself in the overall lead. Then he lost that lead to Tejay van Garderen (BMC) in the race’s individual time trial. But then, with everyone asking whether he could take back enough time on the final summit finish, Bernal answered with an emphatic “yes”.

The 21-year-old rode away from van Garderen and the rest of the field to win into South Lake Tahoe by 1:28. It’d be enough to take overall victory by roughly the same margin the following day, as his compatriot Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) sprinted to victory on the final stage (it was Gaviria’s third stage win and the fifth win from seven stages for Colombia).

In his first season as a WorldTour pro Bernal already has five big wins to his name. So where to from here? How long until we see him ride for GC at a Grand Tour?

Katie Hall victorious at women’s Tour of California

Just as the tough South Lake Tahoe finish decided the men’s Tour of California, so too it decided the women’s race. American climber Katie Hall (United HealthCare) got away late on stage 2 and held on to cross the finish 25 seconds clear of her nearest rival Tayler Wiles (Trek-Drops).

After the third and final stage finished 24 hours later, Hall was crowned the winner of the fourth edition women’s Tour of California, with Arlenis Sierra (Astana Women’s Team) honoured for her sprint victory in the final stage.

Van Vleuten TTs to Emakumeen Bira lead

Decked out in the rainbow skinsuit of world time trial champion, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was the rider to beat on stage 2 of the Emakumeen Bira. The 26.6km time trial was a reasonably flat affair and one which saw the Dutchwoman finish 14 seconds ahead of compatriot Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) and 44 seconds clear of former ITT world champ Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High 5).

The upshot? Van Vleuten now slides into the leader’s jersey after two days of the four-day race. It’s a race she’s never won before, but she’s been second twice and third in the past. With a buffer of 14 seconds over van der Breggen, van Vleuten can’t exactly breathe easy, but she is well-placed to take her first stage race victory of the year.

Schurter, Neff win round 2 of the MTB World Cup

The first ever UCI cross country short track World Cup race (XCC) happened over the weekend in Albstadt, Germany. The new format provides points toward the overall World Cup ranking, and also impacts starting positions for the XCO event. In the men’s race, big favourite Nino Schurter suffered an early mechanical, with Mathieu Van Der Poel going solo for the win at two laps to go. In the women’s, it was Annika Langvad who got the win over Jolanda Neff.

The second round of the cross country World Cup (XCO) was held two days later and it was an all Swiss affair, with Schurter getting his redemption in the men’s and Jolanda Neff taking the women’s. Schurter finished ahead of France’s Stephane Tempier and van der Poel finished third. The women’s saw Yana Belomoina in second and Anne Tauber in third, both finishing over two minutes behind Neff.

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Race drama at the Tour of the Philippines

The organisers of the Tour de Filipinas can’t take a trick. To start with, the ninth edition of the UCI 2.2 event was scheduled to run in late January but was postponed … due to the risk of a volcanic eruption. The race was then moved further north and rescheduled to start this past weekend.

It did get underway, with riders setting out yesterday from Quezon City, but the racing didn’t last for long. Commissaires neutralised the race due to “heavy traffic”, then said the stage wouldn’t count towards the GC, and then finally called off the stage entirely. Bizarre.

Be sure to check out the Oliver’s Racing Twitter account for a humorous account of how the day unfolded.


In other news …

MTBer killed by a cougar

In horrible news out of Washington state, one man was killed and another was seriously injured when they were attacked by a cougar while mountainbiking on Saturday.

The two men were riding near the town of North Bend, roughly 50km east of Seattle, when the incident occurred. Staff from the Washington Department of Fish and Game found the cougar standing over the body of the dead cyclist before shooting and killing the animal.

More broken vertebrae for Steele von Hoff

He broke four vertebrae just seven weeks out from the Commonwealth Games, recovered and went on to win the road race. But now, Aussie sprinter Steele von Hoff (Bennelong SwissWellness) is back in hospital after again breaking two vertebrae in a crash. He also has a broken rib and scapula for his troubles.

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Von Hoff was racing in the GP Grote Prijs Marcel Kint in Belgium when the crash occurred. He doesn’t need surgery.

Dowsett the deep sleeper

This is an odd one from Katusha-Alpecin’s Alex Dowsett. Unsettling to say the least.


Moving pictures

Juggling motherhood and team tactics

This is a great look at how Rachel Hedderman balances her life as a mother with her role as UnitedHealthcare sports director. Worth a watch.

Bennett’s Zoncolan wheelie

Sam Bennett (Bora Hansgrohe) was the very last rider to reach the top of the Monte Zoncolan on Saturday. It turns out the dual stage winner was having a bit of fun on the way up.


Happy birthday to …

Chris Froome, who got an early present for his 33rd birthday, winning on Monte Zoncolan. He was given a cake on Sunday morning before stage 15 began. Sadly there was no joy to be had on his birthday, the Briton sliding further away from the overall lead.

Today’s feature image comes from Jered & Ashley Gruber and shows Simon Yates chasing Chris Froome amid security staff, fans and motos on the Monte Zoncolan. Froome held on to win the stage but Yates appears to be riding to overall victory.

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