Valverde wins at the Vuelta, Kwiatkowski rides into red: Daily News Digest

by CyclingTips

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

Michal Kwiatkowski picks up where Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas left off. Matej Mohoric continues his impressive form. Amy Pieters beats Marianne Vos to win the GP de Plouay. And the MTB XCO World Cup series comes to a close. It’s your Monday edition of the Daily News Digest with all the biggest racing and other news from around the world.

Quote of the day

“I never once said that I was here for GC. It was in the press. It was never what I said.”

Richie Porte speaking to VeloNews after losing more than 13 minutes on stage 2 of the Vuelta.

Story of the day: Kwiato into red as Vuelta favourites tumble

With Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas sitting out the Vuelta a España, Team Sky’s streak of four-straight Grand Tour wins is over, right? Well, not necessarily. Not if Michal Kwiatkowski has anything to say about it.

After his transformation into one of the world’s best climbing super-domestiques in recent years — in addition to his great time-trialling, Classics riding, and punchy sprint — the former world champ now has his chance to lead Sky at a Grand Tour. And you’d have to say that, so far, it’s going pretty well.

‘Kwiato’ was second in the prologue time trial, just six seconds behind winner Rohan Dennis (BMC). The following day, in scorching conditions, he was second again, this time behind Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) on a long uphill rise to the line. That result put the Pole into the overall lead.

Highlights from stage 2 of the 2018 Vuelta a España.
Of course, the Vuelta is only two days old and there is so much climbing to come. And Kwiato himself doesn’t seem to fancy his chances overall: “I am here to develop myself as a GC rider,” he said. “That is something that drives me to one day to really go for the GC.”

But he’s in a good spot. Richie Porte (BMC)’s pre-race illness (plus a lack of fitness post-Tour de France crash) saw him drop more than 13 minutes on stage 2, while Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) also lost a good chunk of time. That plus his strong prologue result gives Kwiato a decent buffer over many of his GC rivals:

– Wilco Kelderman: 0:25
– Nairo Quintana: 0:33
– Steven Kruijswijk and Simon Yates: 0:37
– Fabio Aru: 0:47
– Rigoberto Uran: 0:48
– Miguel Angel Lopez: 0:54
– Ilnur Zakarin: 1:31
– Vincenzo Nibali: 4:44
– Richie Porte: 14:22

As Geraint Thomas showed at the Tour de France, if you can get a solid lead in the opening few days, it’s far from easy to reduce that deficit. Of course, that will require Kwiatkowski to match it with the best climbers in the mountains. Will he be capable of doing so? It’s set to be one of the Vuelta’s most intriguing storylines.

Race Radio

Oliver Naesen takes out the Bretagne Classic

While temperatures soared in Spain, the rain was pouring down for the Bretagne Classic in north-west France. A three-rider group split off the front of a larger breakaway in the closing kilometres, with Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Michael Valgren (Astana) reaching the finish together.

Naesen opened up his sprint early, riding Wellens off his wheel and holding Valgren off to take his first win of the year.

Amy Pieters wins GP de Plouay

In the corresponding women’s race, the GP de Plouay, a group of 15 riders emerged at the front in the closing kilometres. Women’s WorldTour leader (and two-time GP de Plouay winner) Marianne Vos (WaowDeals) was there and among the favourites, and it was she that opened up the sprint. But her fellow Dutchwoman, Amy Pieters (Boels-Dolmans), was able to overhaul her, hitting the front just in time to win the sprint. Vos was second, while US champion Coryn Rivera (Sunweb) completed the podium.

Matej Mohoric wins the Deutschland Tour

After his first-ever stage race win at the Binck Bank Tour last week, former U23 world champion Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) doubled down at the Deutschland Tour over the weekend.

The first Deutschland Tour since 2008 was contested over four stages and it was on stage 3 that Mohoric moved into the overall lead. There were several late attacks in the final kilometres before the line, but they were overhauled in the final sprint where Mohoric took the win from a group of 33, ahead of local rider Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin).

The order was reversed on the final stage, with Politt beating Mohoric to take his first pro win. But Mohoric’s second place was enough to clinch to overall win.

Tadej Pogacar wins the Tour de l’Avenir

Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar has won the most prestigious race on the U23 men’s calendar, the Tour de l’Avenir. The 19-year-old, who has signed with UAE-Team Emirates for the next two years, moved into the overall lead on stage 7 of the 10-stage race. On a mountain stage just 35km in length, Pogacar finished third behind Ivan Sosa (Colombia) and Brandon McNulty (USA).

Over the following three stages he posted another three high finishes: fifth on stage 8, third on stage 9 and sixth on stage 10. His consistent racing in the mountains of the tour’s second half saw him finish the race 1:28 ahead of his nearest rival, Thymen Arensman (Netherlands), with stage 8 winner Gino Mader (Switzerland) in third overall.

Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff win La Bresse XCO World Cup and series

Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff have rounded out series victories in the XCO World Cup by winning the final round in La Bresse, France over the weekend.

Schurter had already sewn up the series ahead of the final round, but that didn’t stop him riding to his 30th career World Cup win. He hit the front early in a battle with Gerhard Kerschbaumer and eventually got clear of the Italian to win by 12 seconds.

That’s World Cup win #30 for Nino Schurter. (Image: Red Bull/Bartek Wolinski)

The women’s series was still up for grabs going into the final round and by day’s end, Neff had certainly earned her overall victory. After leading early, Neff suffered two punctures but fought back each time and was able to hold off Emily Batty for the win. In doing so Neff wrapped up the series ahead of Annika Langvad who finished third on the day.

To read more, check out the in-depth race reports at the Red Bull website.

Jay Petervay wins the inaugural Silk Road Mountain Race

In less than nine days American rider Jay Petervay has managed to get through 1,700km and 26,000 metres of climbing, on sketchy gravel trails in the remotest of territories, to win the first PEdALED Silk Road Mountain Race.

The experienced ultra-endurance rider reached the finish of the race across Kyrgyzstan at 5.15pm on Sunday, with his shoes barely hanging together after all the hike-a-bike sections.

“This was one of the hardest races I have done. But that is not why I took part,” Jay Petervay said. “It’s about pioneering and racing bikes where no one did before. That is the real beauty of this race for me.”

It was a tough run into the line for Petervay, who has won the icy Alaskan Iditarod race multiple times. With Bagoly Levente getting closer he decided to continue on through his final night to tackle the long unridable sections, icy cold conditions and waist-deep river crossings of the final stretch. Romanian rider Levente was still about 70km from the finish at the time of writing, with French rider Pierra-Arnaud Magnan and Belgian Kim Raeymaekers roughly another 30km back.

To follow the final stages of the race you can link through to the tracking site here.

Moving pictures

How to overtake horses

Remember that video from a few months back of the British triathletes dangerously overtaking a horse? Here’s a reminder:

Now, Cycling UK and the British Horse Society have worked together to create a video showing how you should overtake horses.

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.

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