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ASO again left us disappointed as they announced La Course will still be just a single day of racing. The route is hilly this year, favouring specialists of terrain typical to the Ardennes Classics. Also, Alejandro Valverde became just the second Spaniard to win the coveted Velo d’Or award and Annemiek Van Vleuten is back on the bike. Well, sort of. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the day: ASO again leaves La Course at one day
As with the announcement of the 2019 Tour de France route, race organiser ASO also revealed its plan for next year’s La Course by Le Tour event. Again, fans were left disappointed as La Course stayed as a one-day race.
After playing into the hands of the climbers for the last two editions, La Course will suit the puncheurs and rouleurs of the peloton with a rolling circuit race around Pau on July 19. The race coincides with the Tour’s stage 13 individual time trial around Pau.
The women will tackle nearly the same course the 27-kilometre men’s time trial will take place on. La Course will involve completing five laps of the circuit. ASO said the race distance was 120-kilometres in a press release, so we assume that either circuit loop will differ slightly from the 27-kilometre TT course or ASO is bad at math. (27×5=135km)
Last year’s edition of La Course was mountainous and finished in Le Grand-Bornand. Annemiek Van Vleuten caught and passed Anna van der Breggen in the final metres after the duo battled over multiple mountain passes. It was a finale that captured the attention of the cycling world and heightened the call for ASO to create a multi-day women’s race alongside the Tour.
La Course debuted in 2014 as a circuit race on the Champs-Elysées on the final day of the Tour de France. Marianne Vos, van der Breggen, and Chloe Hosking won the three years it took place on the famous boulevard. In 2017, ASO shifted La Course into the high mountains with a summit finish on the Col d’Izoard, which Van Vleuten won.
La Course 2018 highlights
Valverde voted rider of the year
The Velo d’Or was created by French cycling magazine Vélo in 1992 and is given to the rider considered to have performed the best over the year. It is voted on by a panel of 15 well established cycling journalists.
It’s hard to say Valverde was not the most consistent rider throughout the 2018 season. He ended the year with 14 victories (7 at WorldTour level) and claimed the world road championship, which was the one race missing from palmares.
Lance Armstrong held the record for the most Vélo d’Or awards with five, but due to his ban and results being stripped he is no longer considered the winner. Contador currently holds the record, winning the award four times throughout his career.
Dumoulin calls 2019 TDF route ‘not ideal’
Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) is not a pure climber. The Dutchman is a diesel. Dumoulin is able to ride within himself on the climbs and be disciplined enough with his pace to stay with the leaders and sometimes drop them. However, he depends on time trial kilometres to take back and gain time in the overall standings. The 2019 Tour de France has just 54 kilometres against the clock, half of which are a team time trial.
“It’s a very tough route. Of course, more individual time trial kilometres would have been better, so it’s not an ideal course for me, but that was also the case this year,” Dumoulin said. “There’s a lot of high climbing [above 2000 metres] with emphasis on the second half of the Tour with the Pyrenees and the Alps to be decisive.”
Dumoulin finished second overall at both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France last year. The Giro route is set to be unveiled early next week and should it include a hefty amount of kilometres against the clock, we could see Dumoulin have another crack at a second Maglia Rosa.
Van Vleuten on the road to recovery
Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) was by far and away the best female rider of the 2018 season. She dominated the 10-day Giro Rosa and then won La Course two days later. She also successfully defended her world time trial championship in Innsbruck. Even more impressive was her seventh-place finish in the world championship road race because it was later revealed she finished the race with a fractured tibial plateau.
Milestone: sit on a bike chair. 🤣 After one week of physiotherapy I can bend my knee 75°. Need >110° to ride a bike. pic.twitter.com/oA4j1uAlJ1
— Annemiek van Vleuten (@AvVleuten) October 26, 2018
Kiwi Sam Bewley extended his contract with Mitchelton-Scott through 2020 season. He has ridden for the program since it started in 2012. Bewley is known for his engine and selflessly sacrificing himself for his teammates in a super domestique role. He was integral in helping defend Simon Yates’ lead in the pink jersey at the Giro before the Briton faltered spectacularly with two days remaining. He will be counted on to do more on the same next season.
Tweet of the day
The Taiwan KOM Challenge is a 105-kilometre hill climb event in which the climb begins at sea level and ascends to over 3,000 metres. Former pro Emma Pooley was the women’s defending champion, but came in second in 2018. Lucy Kennedy took top honours.
👆🏻It’s tricky to hi-five when you’re 30cm too short 😬
Chapeau to @kennedylucy_ who totally bossed today’s Taiwan KOM Challenge! Awesome to watch, at least for the brief time she was still in sight 😂
— Emma Pooley (@PooleyEmma) October 26, 2018
Happy Birthday to …
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (44), the German cycling legend, who has over 100 career victories to her name, will be directing the new Trek-Segafredo women’s team in 2018. Her racing palmarès includes 11 stage wins at the Giro Rosa, the 2009 Tour of Flanders, and a bronze medal at the 2011 world road championships. After retiring from racing in 2013, she returned to cycling in 2015 to serve as a director for USA Cycling’s junior women’s and men’s programs in Europe. This past season, she co-directed the Rally Cycling women’s team.
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Feature Image: Annemiek Van Vleuten was elated to win La Course for the second year in-a-row in 2018.