Solo win in Suisse; the Tour’s accordion laid to rest; BMC team’s future unknown: Daily News Digest

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

Sometimes, even after being dropped, a lone breakaway rider holds off the peloton to win alone; sometimes it even happens in the rain, as it did today at the Tour de Suisse. The Tour de France lost a legend with the passing of Yvette Hornère, who became famous playing the accordion atop a caravan vehicle from 1952-1963. And is the BMC Racing Team  going away? General manager Jim Ochowicz admits the team’s future is uncertain. 


Quote of the day

“I don’t have a deadline. I don’t need a deadline. There could be a worst-case scenario where we don’t find a sponsor, but there isn’t a deadline or a magic date for the whole thing collapsing.”

— BMC Racing Team general manager Jim Ochowicz, addressing concerns that team riders may exodus without a contract beyond 2018, making it more difficult to land a title sponsor


Story of the day: Juul-Jensen’s rain-soaked escape pays off at Suisse

There weren’t too many smiling faces after another wet day at the Tour de Suisse, but 28-year-old Dane Chris Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott) was grinning ear to ear after soloing to victory at the posh ski resort of Gstaad on Stage 4.  After spending all day in the six-man breakaway — his second consecutive day off the front — Juul-Jensen jumped away with Nans Peters (Ag2r La Mondiale) on the final climb of the day, 10km from the line.

Peters actually distanced the Mitchelton-Scott rider, and with the peloton just 20 seconds behind, it looked like Juul-Jensen’s day was done. However, the Dane continued to fight; he regained contact with Peters and shortly after attacked with 3km to go. In the end, he held off the peloton by just eight seconds to claim his third professional win, and his first since the 2015 Tour of Denmark. Peters was caught just 250 metres from the line.

Christopher Juul-Jenson (Mitchelton-Scott) soloed to victory in the posh ski resort town of Gstaad to win Stage 4 of the 2018 Tour de Suisse.

“We didn’t expect to stay away on a day like today, but when we had two minutes at the bottom of the climb, then suddenly the break started to believe it was actually possible,” Juul-Jenson said. “When [Peters] attacked, I kept him at a relatively close distance and I could see that he was maybe taking the corners slightly slower then I was. I was closing the gap and decided to make the most of it before it was too late. It was a long three kilometres on the airfield here, but it is a fantastic feeling.”

BMC Racing’s Stefan Küng successfully defended his yellow jersey, however, he conceded that he may not be wearing yellow following Stage 5, which delivers three categorized climbs including a summit finish atop Leukerbad.

“Tomorrow is the first time that we go really into the mountains with a summit finish so it will be difficult for me to defend the jersey, but I think up until now we can be happy,” Küng said.


Video: Highlights from Stage 4 of the 2018 Tour de Suisse


Race Radio

OVO Energy Women’s Tour kicks off Wednesday

The fifth edition of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, part of the UCI Women’s World Tour and the most prestigious women’s race in the United Kingdom, begins Wednesday in Suffolk. The race ends five days later with its first visit to Wales. Three former winners of the race will take the start — 2017 winner Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), 2015 winner Lisa Brennauer (Wiggle-High5), and 2014 winner Marianne Vos (WaowDeals Pro Cycling). Lizzie Deignan, overall winner in 2016, is expecting a child in September and is not competing.

The final GC podium of the 2017 OVO Energy Women’s Tour: Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans), Kasia Niewiadoma (Wm3 Pro Cycling) and Hannah Barnes (Canyon-SRAM).

Video from the pre-race press conference can be viewed on the race’s Facebook page.

June 13: Stage 1, Framlingham to Southwold (130km)
June 14: Stage 2, Rushden to Daventry (145km)
June 15: Stage 3, Atherstone to Royal Leamington Spa (151km)
June 16: Stage 4, Wychavon District to Worcester (130km)
June 17: Stage 5, Dolgellau to Colwyn Bay (122km)

BMC Racing Team manager: “There is no guarantee”

Is the BMC Racing Team going away? General manager Jim Ochowicz told reporters at the Tour de Suisse that he has no title sponsor lined up beyond 2018, when the team’s current contract with BMC expires.

The team does have a pair of secondary sponsorships lined up with current sponsors Tag Heuer and Sophos. Without a title sponsor, it will remain difficult to retain big-budget riders such as Richie Porte, Greg Van Avermaet, and Rohan Dennis. Ochowicz said he’s nowhere near giving up.

“I don’t want to put a deadline on finding a sponsor,” Ochowicz was quoted by Het Nieuwsblad. “Even the Tour is not a deadline for me. At this moment, I simply cannot say anything. When is it? I’d rather it was two weeks ago than next week. But I’m confident that the riders will continue to focus on their job, also in the Tour. The current situation will not affect that.”

Responding to rumors that Dennis is on his way to Bahrain-Merida, while Van Avermaet is also entertaining offers, Ochowicz replied that the same would be true if he had a budget in place.

“I realize that I can lose a number of riders, but that would be the case if I had budget, because there are a lot of riders at the end of their contract. However, I also know that every year some riders only sign with a team in December. You’re not out of business because you come up with money a little bit later. You saw that last year with Slipstream. They pulled it together in September. The riders know we don’t have a deadline. I’ve been saying that since the beginning of the year. There is no guarantee. Raising money is never easy, to maintain a budget the size of ours.”

Graber’s velomobile is riding away at Trans-Am

As the 7,000 kilometre Trans Am ultra-endurance race stretched into its 11th day and the state of Missouri, dot-watchers continued to be greeted by the unusual sight of a faired velomobile out the front. Marcel Graber in his human-powered vehicle took to the lead in the mountains of Colorado. The Swiss rider then extended the gap on second-placed Peter Andersen as he whipped across the windy flats of Kansas.

The departure from the traditional two-wheeled bike at the front of the race has generated plenty of discussion, particularly as Graber is currently on track to set a new record. However the rules are clear, the vehicle is allowed. Anyone that feels like having a gripe about that may want to check out the first rule; no complaining about the rules. To see the latest position of the riders you can find the live tracker here.

The Tour de France says goodbye to a legend

The Tour de France lost a legend on Monday with the passing of Yvette Hornère, a musician who became famous after spending 11 years (1952-63) as part of the Tour caravan, playing the accordion atop a caravan vehicle.

In 1952, domestic appliance manufacturer Calor asked Horner, who had just received the title of world accordion champion, to play every evening on the podium. It wasn’t long before she was playing out of the roof of a race vehicle, as well as handling podium duties before and after each stage. She became such a part of the Tour’s culture that she went on to sell 30 million records and was canonized in the 2003 animated French film Les Triplettes de Belleville.

An animated version of Yvette Horneré was featured in the 2003 film Les Triplettes de Belleville.

Hornère passed away on June 11 at the age of 95. There’s a nicely written obituary over at The Inner Ring; a video highlighting her music and images from her time with the Tour de France can be found here.

NBC Sports Gold launches 2018-19 Cycling Pass for US customers

US cycling fans can purchase access to the 2018-19 NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, which runs from July 2018 through June 2019, for $50. For that fee, fans can access commercial-free live streaming coverage of the 2018 Tour de France and Vuelta a España, the 2019 Paris-Roubaix, and many more pro races. NBC Sports Gold’s live stream of the 2018 Tour also includes access to a live GPS tracking map to follow riders’ progress, an enhanced interactive map for each stage, the ability to pause video, full stage video replay, highlights, and short­-form video clips.

Other events included in the pass are Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the UCI Mountain Bike and Road World Championships, UCI Cyclocross World Cups, the Santos Tour Down Under, Paris-Nice, the Amgen Tour of California, Criterium du Dauphine, and more. The Cycling Pass can be purchased in advance of the 2018 Tour de France by visiting NBCSportsGold.com.

Tech news

Wahoo Fitness announces ELEMNT Bolt LE computer

Wahoo Fitness had added a new variant to its growing family of GPS cycling computers — well, sort of. The new ELEMNT Bolt LE (Limited Edition) is functionally identical to the standard version — including the same easy-to-use programming and handy smartphone-connected setup — but with eye-catching red or yellow cases that lend a bit of visual pop to the sleekly designed and compact unit.

The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt LE computer comes in yellow and red.

Pricing remains unchanged at US$250 / AU$400 / £200 / €240, but Wahoo Fitness says the LE will only be available in “very limited quantities.” More information can be found at wahoofitness.com and you can read about how Wahoo Fitness is challenging Garmin here.

Schwalbe says the airlines are full of it

Here’s a bit of interesting info from Schwalbe’s Tech Info catalogue regarding deflating tires for air travel. Stick around for the last sentence.

“Does it make any sense to deflate tires for transport by air? This regulation is unfortunately required insistently at many airports. From our point of view it makes little sense. Pressure compensation in the cargo hold of a passenger plane is standard today. But even in case of a transport in a space without pressure compensation,
the change of the inflation pressure at a height of 10000 m / 32800 feet would be minimal compared to the pressures a tire must withstand in any case. In a completely air-evacuated space, the pressure would be exactly 1 bar higher than under normal atmospheric conditions. On the other hand, the risk of damage is much greater for tubes or rims when transporting the bicycle with flat tires. For this reason we recommend that you keep the tires inflated during transport by plane. We are, however, also aware of the fact that even convincing arguments will be of little help against the regulations of an airport company.

Moving pictures

BC Bike Race releases third feature film, The Journey

BC Bike Race has released their third feature film, The Journey, which follows an international field of racers from the moment they affix race plates to their bars to the tears of joy and exhaustion as they cross the final finish line seven days later.


Happy Birthday to…

Canadian cycling legend Steve Bauer turns 59 today. Over a professional career that spanned from 1985 to 1996, Bauer rode for teams such as La Vie Claire, alongside Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond, and Motorola, alongside Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Axel Merckx, and Sean Yates. Bauer’s amateur career ended in 1984 with a silver medal in the men’s road race at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and for the next 11 summers Bauer would start the Tour de France every year, finishing nine times.

In 1988 Bauer became the second Canadian to wear the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, winning Stage 1 in Machecoul while riding for Weinmann-La Suisse. It was short-lived, however, as there was a team time trial later that day, won by Panasonic-Isostar. Bauer took back the maillot jaune on Stage 8 and held it for four days before ceding it to Pedro Delgado, who would go on to win the Tour. Bauer finished fourth in Paris, 12:15 down.

In 1990, Bauer took second at Paris–Roubaix to Belgian Eddy Planckaert. The finish was so close that the officials studied the finish-line photo for more than 10 minutes before declaring Planckaert the winner by less than a centimeter, the closest finish in the race’s history.

Steve Bauer and Eddy Planckaert at the 1990 Paris-Roubaix.

Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini (Bardiani-CSF) turns 29 today. Guardini has won a ridiculous 24 stages at the Tour de Langwaki, as well as a stage at the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Last year he also made a name for himself at Paris-Roubaix when he abandoned the race and took the most direct route to the finish — along the E23 motorway, where he was picked up by French authorities and brought back to the police station in Villeneuve-d’Ascq.

“I quit the race when I got to the team car at the second feed,” Guardini wrote on Facebook. “They told me to cut across from the race and ride to the finish. I took their word and would have quickly made it to Roubaix if I hadn’t found myself on the highway. Fortunately the Gendarmerie found me, loaded my bike in their car and took me to the local police station. I can only thank them for their help; they even let me watch the finish of the race with them. I was also able to contact my wife, who called the team so that a soigneur could come and collect me. I wasn’t arrested, my criminal record is still intact, and we even had a laugh about it.”

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