Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
We consider a Vuelta without Sky’s best, bow down to another van der Poel victory, and abuse a home trainer.
Story of the day: The Vuelta without Sky’s top men
Recently crowned Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas will eschew the chance to repeat Chris Froome’s Tour/Vuelta double from last season and will instead ride the Tour of Britain. Froome is ending his run of grand tours as well, and will also take part in Sky’s home race.
We mentioned in this space yesterday that the Vuelta is often a race of redemption, and frankly, neither Froome nor Thomas has much to redeem. What does that mean for the Vuelta? It could be a bit of a blessing — for those worn down by Sky’s dominant riding style, a Vuelta without either of Sky’s top men will feel more open than any recent grand tour. Is there another team ready to take the reigns? Perhaps Movistar can get some practice in.
Not that Sky’s Vuelta squad will be full of slouches. The team is bringing Michal Kwiatkowski, David de la Cruz, and Tao Geoghegan Hart to Spain. But without either of its GC leaders, Sky will ride differently. And that will have a dramatic impact on the race.
Sky will instead have a triple whammy at its home race. In addition to Thomas and Froome, Sky is sending Wout Poels.
“As soon as I’d finished the Tour I knew I wanted to ride the Tour of Britain and race on home roads,” said Thomas. “It starts in Wales which will be special, and then I get to go and race across the whole of the UK. I can’t wait.”
There had previously been talk that if Froome added the Tour to his Giro win earlier this year, that he would aim for the hitherto-unachieved Grand Tour triple in the same season. We all know how July went, though. So instead he has opted to miss the Vuelta and ride in Britain. He last lined up at the Tour of Britain in 2009.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced the Tour of Britain,” Froome said. “The Vuelta a Espana has always been such a big goal and sadly coincided with the Tour of Britain, but not doing La Vuelta this year gives me the chance to come back to the UK and race on what looks like a great parcours.”
The race will run from September 2 to 9. It starts in Pembrey Country Park and concludes in London.
Terpstra signs with Direct Energie
Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra is ending eight seasons with QuickStep and heading to French Pro Continental outfit Direct Energie, the latter team announced in a press release.
“I dream to bring Direct Energie a prestigious victory at a big Classic,” Terpstra said. “And, above all, to win a stage at the Tour de France. I have tried in the past a lot, joining a French team may be the answer.”
Haig extends with Mitchelton-Scott
Strong in the Ardennes Classics, impressive in the Giro d’Italia and third overall in the recent Tour of Utah, Jack Haig has been rewarded with a contract extension with the Mitchelton-Scott team. The Australian climber had a further year remaining in his current deal, but team management has agreed to terms for him to stay on board until the end of 2020.
“It’s nice to be able to not have the stress of the contract year,” he said. “I obviously had one year left, but the team has said they’d like to have me for an extra year on top of my current contract, which is really nice. It’s nice to have the confidence with the team that they are happy to keep developing me, keep giving me chances, and also giving me time to work for those things.
Haig said his goal is to take more responsibility in the next two seasons, particularly in week-long tours.
The team’s head directeur sportif Matt White said the team has been pleasantly surprised by Haig. “In some ways, Jack has been performing on a higher level than we had actually planned, so we wanted to reward him for that with a new contract for next year and an additional year on top of that,” he said. “It’s a win-win for all of us.”
Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott).
Sunweb stomps Ladies Tour of Norway TTT
Sunweb took 38 seconds out of the next best team, Mitchelton-Scott, in the opening TTT of the Tour of Norway. Cervelo-Bigla came in third, 1’09” back.
Oddly, the TTT is not counted toward GC time in the Ladies Tour of Norway but is instead its own single-day Women’s WorldTour event. The GC battle starts tomorrow with a 127km stage from Rakkestad to Mysen.
Already 1‘04 faster than @CerveloBigla at the start of the climb, @TeamSunweb approaches the finish and sets the best time in 29‘53, 1’08 faster than @CerveloBigla. #UCIWWT #lton18 pic.twitter.com/vbEcnDGqOe
— UCI_WWT (@UCI_WWT) August 16, 2018
Stuyven wins technical BinckBank sprint
Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) took advantage of a technical finale in the BinckBank Tour’s fourth stage to take a solo victory ahead of Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) and Zdenek Stybar (QuickStep Floors). Ewan was one of only two pure sprinters to crack the top ten as a series of curves in the final kilometers allowed Stuyven to hold a lead out front and sent most of the big sprinters back through the field. A leadout for Marcel Kittel fell apart in the finale and the German finished in 70th.
— BinckBank Tour (@BinckBankTour) August 16, 2018
Van Der Poel wins chaotic first stage of the Arctic Race of Norway
The phenom struck again. Mathieu Van Der Poel sprinted from a whittled down front group (whittled in part by a late crash by a Fortuneo rider who appeared to by bumped by van der Poel himself) to snag the first stage win and leader’s jersey in Norway. He did so from a fair ways back – check out this acceleration:
— La Flamme Rouge (@laflammerouge16) August 16, 2018
Tomorrow the race will tackle a lumpy, 195km stage from Tana to Kjøllefjord.
Tweet of the day
Team Rwanda/Africa Rising Cycling made it to Colorado. Whew. No private jet needed.
And with 18 hours to spare we finally have a full team! Bona, Janvier and Felix got bumped and rerouted arriving at 6pm tonight after 56 hours of travel. See you in Vail tomorrow for the start of the @CoClassicPro #teamisteam pic.twitter.com/4cRFgFE0IT
— Africa Rising Cycling (@CyclingAfrica) August 16, 2018
Can smart trainers feel pain?
Just how durable are smart trainers? Adam Kerin of Zero Friction Cycling has just ticked over the 100,000km mark with his Tacx Neo Smart trainer. To be fair, it’s not driven by his legs, but rather an industrial drive motor keeps the cranks spinning for controlled drivetrain testing, such as that covered in our search for the best chain lube feature.
In this Tacx Neo’s 3,200 hours of operation, it has seen off 31 chains, 15 sets of chainrings, 15 cassettes and 12 pairs of jockey wheels. Kerin has also had to replace the drive motor and gear box, along with two drive couplings. Perhaps most impressively, the only maintenance done to the smart trainer is the replacement of four 6802 freehub bearings, at $9 each. Turns out that the durability of smart trainers isn’t much of a concern.
Such cruelty against the Neo continues and we’re currently working with Kerin on some world-first tests where the findings are likely to save you money and improve your efficiency. Stay tuned.