Another U.S. team struggles; Dennis takes Vuelta TT: Daily News Digest

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

Another day and another U.S. professional team is on the brink of collapse, and this one seemed not long ago to be one of the most stable. 2018 is shaping-up the be the year of the sponsorship crisis in the U.S., though that seems to be every year for professional cycling in general.

On a brighter note, La Vuelta is turning into a fantastic battle for the overall. With a mountainous final week ahead, it’s only going to get better.

Story of the day: Holowesko-Citadel in search of sponsors, won’t be Pro Conti in 2019

Holowesko-Citadel revealed it would not meet the UCI application deadline to declare Pro Continental status for next year and made a public appeal to try to secure more sponsorship for the 2019 season. The announcement is shocking considering the team is owned by former professional George Hincapie and public perception was that it was one of the more financially stable U.S. professional cycling teams.

CyclingTips spoke with Hincapie just weeks ago at the Colorado Classic and the 17-time Tour de France participant gave no indication of the team’s financial difficulties. He even spoke of taking the team to the WorldTour one day.

Rumours have swirled of late of the team needing to find a title sponsor, and funding from Walmart heirs was floated as a possibility. Steuart and Tom Walton, grandsons of the Walmart founder, are heavily involved in cycling and purchased Rapha last year through their investment group, RZC Investments.

John Murphy (Holowesko-Citadel), the team’s marquee sprinter, will be moving to the Rally Cycling team next season.

Holowesko-Citadel’s financial woes add another North American-registered team to the long list of struggling programs. UnitedHealthcare is folding at the end of the season and the management group behind Jelly Belly is looking for a sponsor after the California-based candy company opted to step away from cycling, ending a 19-year stint. The Canadian team Silber is also in search of a title sponsor. Lastly, rumours have begun to circulate that first-year UCI Continental team Cyclus Sports may not be around next year.

Just last year, the WorldTour Slipstream Sports program looked to be collapsing and even created a crowdfunding campaign. EF Education First saved the program at the last moment with the company not only coming on-board as a sponsor, but also purchasing Slipstream Sports in the process.

With many races and teams folding or in financial difficulty, the U.S. professional cycling scene feels like it’s teetering on an edge. Furthermore, USA Cycling membership has been in a decline for many years.

While Holowesko-Citadel indicated it was looking forward to the 2019 season, it remains to be seen if in fact there will be a professional team run by Hincapie next year. After creating the perception that all was merry, a look behind the curtain shows a team struggling like the rest to secure financial stability.

Joe Lewis (second from right) took home the sprinter’s jersey for Holowesko-Citadel at the Colorado Classic in August. Photo: Cor Vos

Race Radio

Dennis crushes Vuelta TT, Yates extends lead

BMC Racing’s two national time trial champions, Rohan Dennis of Australia and Joey Rosskopf of the United States, blitzed the 32-kilometre course at the Vuelta a Espana to finish one-two. It was Dennis’ second win of the race after he captured the opening individual time trial. He announced in the post-race television interview that he is leaving the race to focus on the individual time trial at the world championships in a few weeks.

In the battle for the general classification, Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) did enough to hold onto the red leader’s jersey, as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and he finished within a few seconds of each other. Yates’ lead is now 33 seconds over Valverde with the stage’s biggest mover, Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo), holding the third spot in the general classification. The Dutchman is 52 seconds behind Yates.

Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had a day to forget after starting the stage third overall, just 33 seconds behind. He struggled to match the speed of his competitors and lost a huge chunk of time. He only dropped one place, to fourth, but is 1:15 back. Quintana will most certainly have to attack if he’s to have any chance of claiming a second La Vuelta title to go along with his 2016 overall victory.

A rider to watch: Enric Mas

At 23, Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) is quickly becoming the revelation of this year’s Vuelta a Espana. He sits fifth overall after a dazzling time trial on stage 16 and has been climbing with the race’s best throughout the first two weeks. He’s now set his sights on the final podium.

Mas is quickly showing he is a general classification contender for the future. The Spaniard is under contract with Quick-Step Floors until the end of next year and considering the Belgian-based squad mostly consists of one-day specialists he could become the team’s go-to general classification rider. The final week of La Vuelta will be interesting to see if Mas can continue to ride with the world’s best.

Transfer News

Colombian Jarlinson Pantano has renewed with Trek-Segafredo for another two seasons, the team announced. Pantano joined the U.S.-registered team for the 2017 season, coming from the defunct IAM Cycling program. He won a stage at the Tour de France in 2016 and is a key domestique for Bauke Mollema in the mountains. He will be leaned upon even more next year with Richie Porte joining the team. He was slated to ride the Vuelta a Espana, but a sickness derailed those ambitions.

Swiss rider Tom Bohli will move to UAE Team Emirates from BMC Racing on a two-year contract. Meanwhile, the Continuum Sports owned BMC Racing, which is set to become CCC in 2019, announced veteran Fran Ventoso has extended his contract with the team and Amaro Antunes will join the squad from the current CCC Sprandi Polkowice program.

Moving Pictures

Vuelta a Espana stage 16 highlights

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