Yates into Vuelta lead; Van Vleuten dominates again: Daily News Digest

by CyclingTips


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

Simon Yates has unexpectedly found himself leading the Vuelta a Espana. Annemiek van Vleuten continues to dominate. Andre Greipel got the better of two young rivals. Pascal Ackermann had a terrific weekend. This and a whole lot more in today’s edition of the CT Daily News Digest.


Story of the day: Yates into red at the Vuelta

Simon Yates has been here before. In fact, it was barely three months ago, at the Giro d’Italia, that he was leading a Grand Tour into the first rest day. He dominated that race for the best part of a fortnight, winning three stages and looking invincible in pink. And then came the implosion. He dropped 38 minutes on stage 19 and another 45 minutes the following day, finding himself outside the top 20 by Giro’s end.

Three months on, Yates leads the Vuelta a Espana into the first rest day. On the uphill finish to stage 9, as Ben King won from the breakaway again, Yates followed his GC rivals in the finale and finished strongly enough to slip to the top of the GC.

“It wasn’t expected for me to be in the leader’s jersey at the end of the stage today,” Yates said. “I was just trying to follow the best guys in the race and I was a little bit behind by a few seconds, so it is a bit of a surprise, but I am happy. A good surprise.

“As far as a game plan I will have to sit down with the team and discuss how we approach being in the jersey over the next few days.”

Even if being in red is a surprise, Yates knows what it’s like to lead a Grand Tour, having learnt all about the experience at the Giro. But has he learned from his final-week meltdown and how to prevent an encore? Well, not exactly.

“It’s difficult to say what I learned from the Giro d’Italia because I still don’t know why I cracked,” he admitted. “If I did I would have learned a very valuable lesson, but we don’t know yet and that’s OK because every race is different.”

Yates will certainly be hoping the Vuelta has a different ending than the Giro.


Race Radio

Ben King doubles up

Going into the Vuelta it had been more than two years since Ben King’s last win. Now, he has two stage wins from nine days of the Vuelta, both from a breakaway.

Just like he did on stage 4, King (Dimension Data) got himself in the early move on stage 9, before going it alone in the closing kilometres. On the steep grades of the final climb Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo — see feature image above) got within 18 seconds of King but the American pulled away again to win by 48 seconds.

“I don’t think I have suffered that much in my career,” King said of the final climb. “Being chased by a guy like Mollema is a lot of pressure and it took a lot to keep believing and keep suffering that much. But I know what it means to me, what it means to the team and to the people who support and believe in me.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) looked the best of the GC riders but, as mentioned, it was Simon Yates that moved into the overall lead.

Earlier in the weekend, on stage 8, Valverde won the uphill sprint ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) – his 11th career stage win at the Vuelta.

Van Vleuten bookends the Boels Ladies Tour

Annemiek van Vleuten’s world-beating season continues. The Mitchelton-Scott rider won the first two stages of the Boels Ladies Tour, building a solid lead in the GC. Then, on Sunday’s final stage individual time trial, she dominated again, securing her second-straight overall victory at the Dutch race.

“For me it is also the last preparation for the world championships,” said the Dutch world time trial champion. “I wanted to do everything the same going into the world championships, so it is really nice to win this tour and with a time trial.”

Van Vleuten now has 12 wins for the year, including two stage race victories. She’ll be the unbackable favourite for the Worlds ITT and not far off it in the road race too.

Andre Greipel takes Tour of Britain opener

Fernando Gaviria (QuickStep Floors) launched his sprint first, followed by Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), but in the end it was experience that prevailed on stage 1 of the Tour of Britain. As the two young guns faded, the veteran Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) passed between them to hit the line in Newport first.

Stage 2 of the eight-stage OVO Energy Tour of Britain is likely to end in a bunch gallop as well.

Pascal Ackermann doubles up

It’s been a breakout year for German sprinter Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe). He’s now got eight wins to his name, including WorldTour victories at the Tour de Romandie, Criterium du Dauphine and Tour of Poland. More recently he’s won the German road title, Prudential RideLondon and just this past weekend, the Brussels Cycling Classic then GP de Formies.

In Brussels, Ackermann was victorious in a bunch sprint that was marred by a heavy crash. The following day, at the GP de Formies, he again outsprinted the field, including Arnaud Demare (FDJ) who had to settle for second.

Kate Perry, Tristan Ward win at the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley

Kate Perry (Specialized Women’s Racing) and Tristan Ward (Bennelong-SwissWellness) have been crowned the winners of the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley, the latest round in Australia’s National Road Series. The race is most famous for its Strade Nero gravel climb on stage 3, and it was there that both riders paved the way for overall victory. Perry won that stage solo, while Ward won the sprint from an elite nine-rider group.

The women’s race began with a victory for Ashlee Ankudinoff in the individual time trial, followed by a Georgia Baker victory in the stage 2 crit. Perry moved into the overall lead with her stage 3 victory, and held on as Grace Brown won the final stage solo. In the men’s race Jensen Plowright won the ITT, Sam Welsford sprinted to victory in the crit, Ward won stage 3 and then doubled up with a sprint win on the final stage as well.

Follow the link for full results from the Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley.

Sarah Hammond flies to the front in Race to the Rock

Race to the Rock defending champion Sarah Hammond is flying out to the front again, having already gobbled through the Tasmanian entree of the 3,569km Australian ultra-endurance race.

The race started Saturday morning on the southernmost road of Australia’s island state and already the lead riders have covered over 500 kilometres of challenging terrain. They crossed the snowy central highlands with rough trails before heading down to the coastal town of Devonport.

It wasn’t long before the two women in the race, ultra-endurance newcomer Emma Flukes and Hammond, were swapping the lead. Early on it looked like both had a chance of reaching the overnight ferry across the Bass Strait, which left at 7:30pm Sunday. That would have given them a handy lead, and a good night’s sleep while they waited to restart in Melbourne, but some tricky sections left them both arriving in Devonport well after the ferry left. Adam Lana arrived third in the early hours of Monday morning.

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After some sleep, Hammond was off to the airport, packing up her bike and taking the first flight to Melbourne on Monday morning. Lana had some tracking issues, so while it was initially hard to tell if he was on the plane, it seems he also has made it across the Bass Strait. At the time of writing the pair were working their way from the airport to restart the route at the Melbourne Town Hall. Flukes, on the other hand, has opted to wait for the overnight ferry crossing. As the day unfolds we will find out just how close the rest of the competition is.

To find out what is happening in real time you can follow the live-tracking dots.


In other news

Aqua Blue under pressure to honour rider commitments

The professional riders’ association CPA has said that it is closely monitoring the Aqua Blue Sport team collapse, with the goal being to ensure that all money owed until the end of the year is settled. Speaking to CyclingTips, the UK and Ireland CPA chairman Ben Greetham was clear about the obligations facing the Irish Pro Continental team.

“The team is still saying that they are going to honour contracts. Legally the team has to pay. But will they? There is a pot of money they have to set aside for this kind of situation, the UCI bank guarantee. We just have to ensure that pot of money still exists.”

Follow the link to read the full story at CyclingTips.

One Pro Cycling to develop a Women’s WorldTour team

One Pro Cycling has announced that it won’t run a men’s Continental team in 2019, instead shifting its focus to setting up a Women’s WorldTour team.

“We see the opportunity within the women’s side of the sport and this is something that is very exciting,” a team press release said. “Our existing partners have been notified and the change of direction has been met with great positivity.

“We aim to have finalised the team no later than the end of September.”

See the full announcement at the One Pro Cycling website.

Froome lukewarm on Worlds tilt

Given the climber-friendly nature of the Worlds course in Austria this year, you’d think Chris Froome would be a certainty to start. Not so.

“I think it really is a case of seeing how the legs feel this week,” Froome said at the Tour of Britain. “If I feel as if I can get to good racing speed at the end of this week, in terms of Worlds, that will be fantastic. I will be able to judge once this week is done just exactly where I’m at and if it’s worth pushing on or time to call it a day for the season.

“I did the Tour of the Alps this year where we did laps on part of the race circuit and it’s a brutal race,” said of the Worlds course. “Unless you’re in absolute top condition I don’t think it’s a race you can hide on the wheels. It’s going to show exactly what form you’re in.”

Heinrich Haussler re-signs with Bahrain Merida

Good news for fans of Aussie veteran Heinrich Haussler: the 34-year-old has signed a two-year extension with Bahrain-Merida.

“I’m super happy to say I can be part of this great team for another two years,” he said. “Especially, this year being able to race again and be a part of some very nice team victories has helped me back to loving the sport of cycling.”

On the socials

Bernal back on the bike

Great to see Egan Bernal in good spirits ahead of his return to riding.

“Ready to go back to the bike,” the Colombian phenom wrote. “After a month of surgeries, new teeth and a lot of patience I can go back to training.”

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That black thing in his mouth? Some kind of teeth-whitening device.

Gold at the end of the rainbow

Chantal Blaak ended her time in the rainbow jersey in style, winning the penultimate stage of the Boels Ladies Tour solo.

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