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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Jan Ullrich is tumbling downward, dangerously. Michal Kwiatkowski captured the overall title in the Tour of Poland in dismal conditions. Team transfer news continues.
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A recent study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance (IJSPP) has found that professional women races are indeed more intense than men’s professional races.
Story of the day: Ullrich’s downward spiral intensifies
Jan Ullrich was arrested for the second time in a week, this time for allegedly attacking a prostitute at the high-end Villa Kennedy hotel in Frankfurt. A police spokesperson said Ullrich was arrested after police were called to the hotel, where Ullrich was said to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol, adding that he could be charged with “assault, or attempted murder.”
Ullrich was arrested last week in Mallorca after what a police spokeswoman described as ‘forceful entry and threats.’ Following that arrest, Ullrich said he had been abusing drink and drugs, and was awaiting a place on a rehabilitation programme. A recent video shown on German site VIP.de shows Ullrich acting erratically, smoking four cigarettes at once.
The 44-year-old is long removed for his heyday in the German spotlight, as the country’s top cyclist. In 1997 he became the first German to win the Tour de France, a distinction he still holds. He also finished second at the Tour five times and made headlines between 2000-2005, as he duelled Lance Armstrong on the roads of France.
Ullrich retired over a decade ago under the cloud of the Operación Puerto scandal, and eventually admitted to doping after years of denials. He appeared to be reviving his image in recent years, working with various companies as an ambassador. However, the German’s life has taken a turn for the worst and he appears to be in a worrisome downward spiral.
Click through to read more on Ullrich’s most recent arrest in Germany.
Transfer News: Dennis confirmed to Bahrain-Merida, Pauwels signs with BMC’s Continuum Sports program
Australian Rohan Dennis will continue his transformation into a Grand Tour contender at Bahrain-Merida in 2019. He has ridden for the BMC Racing Team since 2014.
Dennis spent much of this year’s Giro d’Italia riding in the top 10 in the general classification, but faltered in the final days of the race and ultimately finished 16th overall. He’s stated in the past that his transformation from a pure time trialist to GC contender is a multi-year process.
”I am extremely excited to be joining Bahrain Merida for the next two years,” Dennis said in a team release. “The organisation has been upfront and honest about their plans and objectives for me the entire time, which is really positive. As I know, we are working towards the same goals. I’m looking forward to working with a team that is going to invest in my future and I am very keen to see what we can achieve together. I would like to thank all at BMC for a great past four years where I felt I made good progress in my career and I can’t wait to continue that progress with Bahrain Merida.”
Dennis began his career by focusing on the track and was part of the Australian team that took the silver medal in the team pursuit at 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The Continuum Sports-owned BMC Racing team, which is set to become a Polish-based program sponsored by Polish company CCC next year, has bolstered its Grand Tour and classics squads with the signing of Belgian Serge Pauwels. Pauwels, 34, is a veteran of the WorldTour, as he debuted in the top-tier with Team Sky in 2010. Pauwels will ride in support of the team’s classics star, Greg Van Avermaet.
“I was not really looking to change teams,” Pauwels said. “I had four great years with MTN Qhubeka and Team Dimension Data, and the Qhubeka charity will always have a place in my heart, but then this opportunity came along and I felt like I had to grab it.
“I have only been teammates with Greg twice with the Belgian national team and of course, the most important one was the Rio Olympics where we were roommates, so we both carry a really nice souvenir from that. Even though we have never raced on the same team we are good friends, so I’m excited to finally race together. Greg is not only a great rider because of his palmarès but also the way he races.”
Also, Alessandro De Marchi extended his contract with Continuum Sports through the 2019 season.
Yates takes final stage in Poland, Kwiatkowski wins overall
Simon Yates’ (Mitchelton-Scott) preparation for the Vuelta a Espana looks to be on course, as the Briton captured the final stage of the Tour of Poland in solo fashion in Bukowina Tatrzanska.
Yates attacked on the penultimate climb of the stage and put race leader Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) under pressure, as he nearly became the virtual leader on the road. Kwiatkowski drove the chase group up the final climb of the day in wet conditions and was able to limit the damage to win the overall title of the race. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) sprinted out of the Kwiatkowski group to take second and third on the stage.
Yates’ 12-second margin of victory and the time bonus he earned for the stage win propelled him up to second in the final GC standings. Pinot finished third overall and George Bennett (LottoNl-Jumbo) missed the final podium by a mere four seconds to finish the race in fourth.
Barbero best of the sprinters in Burgos
Carlos Barbero (Movistar) simply loves the slight uphill drag to the finish line in Clunia at the Vuelta a Burgos, as the Spaniard captured the victory there for the third time in four years after wins in 2015 and 2017. Barbero timed his sprint to perfection, beating Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini’s Marco Tizza and Nicola Bagioli to the line.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) retained his lead in the general classification by two seconds over Ivan Sosa (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec).
“It was so difficult to win again today,” Barbero said. “I was the wheel everyone was looking for. Being the top favourite and winning is even harder. You’re under your own pressure, your pulse is higher, you even struggle to get decent sleep the night before. There are riders who suffer when they have all eyes on them. I always try to avoid focusing on that pressure, even if I knew I couldn’t disappoint, especially after that ‘failure’ of my flat tire so close to the finish in the Castillo on Tuesday. It was all or nothing today.
Melbourne to Warrnambool race will take place in 2019
Australia’s oldest road race, the Melbourne to Warrnambool, will return in 2019 after a one-year hiatus. The 103rd edition of “The Warrny” will be held on February 19.
The one-day event, which was first held back in 1895 and is raced over more than 250km, hasn’t run in 2018 as Cycling Australia works to restructure its calendar into a classics period and a tours period. Given the Warrny is moving from an October time slot to February, having it in February this year would have seen two editions run in the same financial year — an impossibility given the bulk of the event’s funding comes from the state government of Victoria.
The 2019 Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool, part of the men’s National Road Series, will now be the final race in the Australian summer of cycling; a period that includes the ‘Bay Crits’, Australian Road Nationals, Santos Tour Down Under, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Australian Cyclocross National Championships in Victoria
The first cyclocross national champions of the 2018-2019 season are going to be crowned this weekend, with Australian Cyclocross National Championships being held at a muddy riverside course in Victoria, around the vineyards of Sam Miranda winery.
It’s a wide-open race in the women’s field, with last year’s champion Peta Mullens not on the startlist. The favourites, based on what we’ve seen in recent racing, have got to be last year’s second-placed rider Natalie Redmond (Cannondale) and April McDonough (Flanders-health.com.au). Then there’s also Fiona Morris (MAAP-ENVE) who has really stepped it up to a new level this year to become a podium regular. There are also some other potential placers it would be unwise to discount, with Naomi Williams (Team Willy-Locke) not having raced much this year but showing she’s still more than capable on those occasions when she has been out on the course. Her teammate Rebecca Locke, a former Australian champion, is also on the start list though a back injury has made it a tough season.
It is a pretty clear trio to watch for the men’s race. Chris Jongewaard (Flanders-health.com.au), Chris Aitken (Focus-Attaquer) and Garry Millburn (MAAP-ENVE) have been swapping the steps on the podium throughout the National Cyclocross series. Plus Friday’s National Series round at Sam Miranda was just another reason to think it’ll be Aitken and Millburn battling to steal Jongewaard’s green and gold stripes. The trio finished with a tight sprint to the line, with the three-time Australian champion taking the win.
A whole new way to understand how echelons work…