King wins Vuelta summit finish; Aqua Blue fallout: Daily News Digest

by CyclingTips

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

American Ben King took the biggest victory of his career, a summit finish from the breakaway at the Vuelta. World TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten  won the prologue at Boels Ladies Tour. Megan Guarnier announced her retirement at age 33 after a career that included an overall Women’s WorldTour title. The fallout from Aqua Blue folding has resulted in the team canceling its Tour of Britain participation, opening the door for Team Wiggins. 

Story of the day: King wins Stage 4 at Vuelta

American Ben King (Dimension Data) emerged as winner on Stage 4 of the Vuelta a España, out-sprinting breakaway companion Nikita Stalnov (Astana) atop the Category 1 Puerto de Alfacar. It was the biggest victory in King’s career, which has also included stage wins at Critérium International and the Amgen Tour of California.

King was the highest-ranked rider in the breakaway, starting the day 4:33 behind race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky). With the nine-man breakaway opening a maximum lead of nearly 10 minutes on a stage that held two categorized climbs, King led the virtual classification and was in position to take the red leader’s jersey. His lead over Kwiatkowski was around eight minutes at the bottom of the Puerto de Alfacar, a 12.4km climb with slopes up to 11% midway through the climb. But the GC group, led by another American, Sepp Kuss of LottoNL-Jumbo, reeled back much of the breakaway’s advantage, finishing around three minutes behind King.

Video: Highlights, Stage 4 of 2018 Vuelta a España

“It’s a dream come true,” King said. “I really can’t believe it. I didn’t start believing it until the last kilometre. I’m really happy with the way it worked out. And I’m really happy with the confidence the team put in me. We’re here riding in support of Louis [Meintjes], and we’ve been building all season towards this. We raced together with this team in Austria and Burgos, and the spirits are high. For me personally, I’m still in shock. Winning a Grand Tour stage was a goal for me at the beginning of this year, and I had to just keep believing and having faith. This is really affirming, I’ve worked so hard to make this happen.”

Behind, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) attacked the GC group, finishing eighth on the stage, 27 seconds ahead of Kwiatkowski and first of the GC contenders. Those GC contenders who lost significant time included Richard Carapaz (Movistar), Meintjes, Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Kwiatkowski now leads by seven seconds ahead of Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), and 10 seconds over Yates.

Instagram of the day

Irish national champion Conor Dunne had an amusing take on his current employment situation, given news of his Aqua Blue team’s demise: “Green Giant for sale… Feed me porridge and I’ll be happy. I know all the lyrics to every Dolly Parton song ever made. Slightly forgetful, due to all the door frames I’ve walked into, but I’m sure we can learn to get round this. Have a large tattoo of my recently deceased obese cat, Smudge, on my left buttock. I can eat 44 weetabix in less than an hour.”

Race Radio

Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) won the prologue of the 2018 Boels Ladies Tour, in Arnhem.

Van Vleuten on top at Boels Ladies Tour prologue

A month out from the world road championships, Dutch riders swept the podium of the Boels Ladies Tour prologue, once again demonstrating their strength on the global stage. World TT champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) won the 3.3km effort a definitive seven seconds ahead of Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), with Ellen van Dijjk (Sunweb) in third. The five-stage race in the Netherlands ends Sunday with an 18.6km time trial in Roosendaal.

Guarnier announces retirement

American Megan Guarnier, a three-time US road champion, and the overall winner of the Giro Rosa and UCI Women’s WorldTour, has announced her retirement at age 33. The road world championship in Innsbruck, Austria, will be her final race.

In an interview with, Guarnier cited a concussion in 2017, followed by broken jaw suffered at the 2017 road world championship in Bergen, Norway, as contributing factors.

“I have noticed that the balance of the fun factor versus risk factor, and the sacrifice versus reward, have started to point me in the direction of retiring,” she said. “I am 33 years old, I’d like to start a family sometime soon as well as go back to school. This sounds super geeky, but I really love learning. After getting my Bachelors Degree in Neuroscience, I planned on taking only a year off for cycling and now I have completed 10 years.”

At the 2015 road world championship in Richmond, Virginia, Guarnier became the first American woman to stand on the podium in over 20 years.

Aqua Blue Sport cancels Tour of Britain participation, riders left in limbo

Hopes that six Aqua Blue Sport riders could use good performances in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain to push for new contracts elsewhere has been dashed with the news that the team will not now ride the race. The Irish Pro Continental team announced on Monday that it would not compete in 2019; however the demise of the team appears to more immediate than that. Two sources told CyclingTips on Monday night that the riders had been told that the expected final showing in the Tour of Britain would not actually take place. Contacted for a response, the Tour of Britain organisers confirmed the decision. Click through to read more here.

Team Wiggins called up to replace Aqua Blue at Tour of Britain

Hours after the organisers of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain confirmed that Aqua Blue Sport had relinquished its invite to the race, they have announced that Team Wiggins will take the vacated slot. The team was originally overlooked for an invite, however months down the line and with Aqua Blue Sport stopping with immediate effect, the team will now take up the wildcard slot it was originally aiming for.

The Tour of Britain starts in Carmarthenshire on Sunday. The lineup for the race will comprise junior world time trial champion Tom Pidcock, Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic winner Gabriel Cullaigh, Joey Walker, James Fouché and the Irish duo Matthew Teggart and Mark Downey. The latter took two top ten finishes on stages of last week’s Tour de l’Avenir, including second on Stage 6.

Transfer news

Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) won the 2016 Dwars door Vlaanderen, one day after terrorist attacks on Brussels. Photo: Kristof Ramon.

Debusschere to Katusha-Alpecin

Belgian Jens Debusschere will leave Lotto-Soudal to ride for Katusha-Alpecin in 2019. Professional since 2011, the 29-year-old has steadily built up a respectable palmares throughout his career, including a 2014 Belgian national title, a stage win at the 2015 Tirreno-Adriatico, first overall at the 2013 Tour de l’Eurométropole, and wins at Dwars door Vlaanderen and GP Wallonie. He’ll ride as a sprinter as well as lead-out for Marcel Kittel, as he’s done for Andre Greipel in the past.

Reichenbach renews with Groupama-FDJ for two years

Sebastian Reichenbach has extended his contract with French squad Groupama-FDJ through 2020. The Swiss rider made headlines in 2017 when he accused Team Sky’s Gianni Moscon of intentionally crashing him at Tre Valli Varesine in October, resulting in a fractured elbow and hip. A professional since 2010, Reichenbach, 28, finished 15th overall at the Giro d’Italia in May while riding in support of Thibaut Pinot, who was forced to abandon with just one stage remaining after watching his third overall position plummet due to pneumonia.

Mannion signs with Rally Cycling

Recent Colorado Classic winner Gavin Mannion, 27, has signed with American Pro Continental team Rally Cycling. The Boston native spent the last two years racing for UnitedHealthcare, where he enjoyed the most successful seasons to date. Among his results are second overall at the Tour of Utah, Tour of the Gila, and Cascade Cycling Classic. Mannion also finished 11th overall at this year’s Amgen Tour of California. Mannion joins a roster already stocked with climbing talent like Rob Britton, Kyle Murphy, and Nigel Ellsay.

“Gavin has proven himself to be one of the very best in North America over the last couple of years,” said team director Jonas Carney. “He’s super consistent and still a young guy who is improving. We need more depth on our team as we transition to a heavier European schedule. Gavin is a logical pick as he checks all the boxes and will easily integrate with our existing riders.”

Trek announces Lotta Lepistö will join new team in 2019

The new Trek women’s team has signed Lotta Lepistö, an explosive sprinter and seven-time Finnish national road champion who is also proficient in the time trial, winning five national championships alongside her road titles. Her breakthrough season came in 2017 when she won Gent–Wevelgem, Crescent Vårgårda, Dwars door Vlaanderen, and a stage at the Giro d’Italia Femminile.

Lepistö, 29, hasn’t had as strong a season in 2018, but says she’s hungry for more. “I want to win as many bike races as we can, as a team,” she said. “For me, it would be super cool to win one of the Spring Classics and have a good race at the World Championships in Yorkshire.”

Nikola Nosková joins Cervélo Bigla in 2019

Nikola Nosková will join the Cervélo Bigla squad next season. The 21-year-old is the U23 European road champion and a bronze medalist in the time trial. Last year she won the Czech Republic road and time trial national titles. Nosková hails from the Czech Republic and has shown great potential as a climber and time trialist.

“Nikola has been on our radar for two years,” said team manager Thomas Campana. “She put up a strong battle against Cecilie [Uttrup Ludwig] for the white jersey in the Giro d’Italia last year and was very impressive. It was always our vision for her to join the team because there’s a big opportunity to develop her when you look at the potential she has.”

Thanks to our friends at Bontrager, we’re giving away a Flare RT Rear Light for every stage of the 2018 Vuelta a España. Sign up here. And for more, click through to read our article highlighting what every cyclist needs to know about daytime running lights.

Editors Picks