Gaviria to UAE; Valverde honoured with street name: Daily News Digest

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

The cat is officially out of the bag: the Quick-Step Floors team boss has confirmed he will lose Fernando Gaviria to UAE Team Emirates. Plus, the new world road champion is being honoured with a street name in his hometown. And we remember a Paris-Roubaix champion that was much more than a cyclist. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the day: UAE Team Emirates buying out Gaviria’s contract

Colombian sprint sensation Fernando Gaviria will be headed to UAE Team Emirates in 2019, despite having a year left on his contract with Quick-Step Floors. Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere confirmed Gaviria’s departure to Sporza at Quick-Step’s end-of-year celebration gathering in Belgium.

It is understood that UAE Team Emirates will have to buy out the year that is left on Gaviria’s contract from Quick-Step. It is not unheard of for teams with considerable budgets to swoop in and offer a buyout to a team to get a star rider. Team Sky did just this to sign Bradley Wiggins to the squad in 2011, even though the Briton was still under contract with the Slipstream program. Sky paid a rumoured US$1 million to get Wiggins.

A 19-year-old Fernando Gavira beats Mark Cavendish to the line at the 2015 Tour de San Luis. The speed and acceleration he demonstrated that week attracted the eye of many WorldTour teams with Quick-Step winning out to sign the young star. Photo: Pablo Cersosimo

In all, 32 of Gaviria’s 34 career victories have come with Quick-Step. Highlights include four stage wins and the points jersey at the Giro d’Italia and winning the opening stage of this year’s Tour de France to take the maillot jaune. He became the first rider to win his first career Tour stage.

The move to UAE Team Emirates seems to be a smart one for the 24-year-old. On Quick-Step, Gaviria had to work alongside sprinting ace Elia Viviani and balance a schedule that gave each of them opportunities. Viviani was cycling’s most prolific winner this year, as he was victorious 19 times. While UAE Team Emirates does have Norwegian Alexander Kristoff, Kristoff has lost a step in recent years, so Gaviria should have no trouble establishing himself as the squad’s number one sprint option.

Race Radio

Valverde gets street named after him

World road champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will have a street named in his honour in his hometown of Murcia, according to Spanish media outlet AS. The street, to be named Alejandro Valverde Avenue, will intersect the street of another famous Spanish cycling champion — Avenida Miguel Indurain.

Contract news

Mark Cavendish has renewed his contract with Dimension Data, taking on a role that will see the Manxman join the team’s “supervisory board” in addition to his racing commitments. After a challenging year that was affected by Epstein-Barr Virus, Cavendish will help work to ensure “the team’s future sustainability” while continuing to target Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 Tour de France stage wins (Cavendish has 30).

Stefan Denifl is the latest Aqua Blue Sport rider to secure his future for 2019. The Austrian, who spent six years racing at the WorldTour level before stepping down with Aqua Blue Sport for the last two seasons, will return to cycling’s top-tier with the CCC Team. Denifl won a stage of the 2017 Vuelta a España and also took the overall title at the 2017 Tour of Austria.

“Stefan brings a wealth of experience to the team and will be an asset at the Ardennes classics and the hillier Monuments, Milan – San Remo and Il Lombardia,” General Manager Jim Ochowicz said in a team release. “We are looking forward to seeing what Stefan can do next year and we are excited to welcome the first rider from Austria, which is a key market for CCC, to the team.”

American Peter Stetina, who has had a rough year filled with injury and illness, signed a one-year extension with Trek-Segafredo.

Also, Austrian Bernard Eisel extended his contract with Dimension Data for another year. The 37-year-old veteran and road captain appears to be retiring after next season.

“I am extremely happy that I can do another year with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka; and while I always perhaps dreamed of retiring with an American team and spending my final days in Malibu, now I’ll probably retire in Camps Bay after 2019,” Eisel said.

Under-23 Oceania Continental TT champion Mikayla Harvey will make the jump to Europe with Cervelo-Bigla after spending the last two seasons with the American-based Team Illuminate. The Kiwi finished second in the young rider classification of the Tour Down Under.

In mountain bike news, multi-time cross-country world cup champion and 2017 world cross-country champion Jolanda Neff will ride for Trek Factory Racing next season. Emily Batty also extended her contract with Trek for the 2019 season.

Drapac steps down as co-title sponsor of WorldTour team

Drapac Capital Partners will step down as co-title sponsor of the EF Education First-Drapac team at the end of the 2018 season. The organisation came on board in 2016 just before the Tour de France and has also sponsored the linked Drapac EF Continental team in that time. That Continental team will continue to receive support from Drapac next season.

Tech News

Eddy Merckx returns to the peloton in 2019

The Belgian Cycling Factory, which recently acquired the Eddy Merckx brand, has announced that it will be supplying Ag2r-La Mondiale with Eddy Merckx bikes for 2019. The born-again brand is creating a new flagship model for the team dubbed the 525 that will be launched at next year’s Tour de France. Visit Eddy Merckx for more info.

Handmade Bicycle Show Australia announces 2019 dates

The Handmade Bicycle Show Australia will return to North Melbourne’s Meat Market for 2019, opening Friday, April 26 and closing Sunday, April 28. Many of the local frame builders that attended the inaugural event will be returning for 2019 along with a stronger international presence and industry booths. Visit HBSA’s website for more info on exhibitors and ticketing.

Happy Birthday to …

Caroline Buchanan (28). The Aussie is a multi-time BMX and mountain bike world champion and represented Australia at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games. Buchanan’s career was put on hold after she was involved in a car accident in late December 2017. She suffered serious injuries from the accident and spent time in the ICU.

Caroline Buchanan (Australia) leads the pack during one of the BMX qualifying rounds at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. Photo: Cor Vos

Also, to three-time Swedish road race and time trial champion Emilia Fahlin (30) and Levi Leipheimer (45).

Just over a year ago, Leipheimer lost his Santa Rosa home in one of the California forest fires that scorched the region. He was not living in the home at the time, but was actually trying to sell it.

In Remembrance …

Frenchman Octave Lapize was born on this day in 1887. He is a champion and hero in every sense of the word. He was victorious at Paris-Roubaix on three consecutive occasions from 1909 to 1911. Italian Francesco Moser and Octave are the only riders to win the “Hell of the North” three times in a row. Beyond racing, Lapize joined the French Army as a fighter pilot for the First World War. Tragically, his plane was shot down on July 14, 1917, Bastille Day. He died later that day in the hospital from his injuries.

In case you missed it …

Podcast: Caley, James, and Neal are in the basement talking gravel bikes and how to make your gravel bike better. Is 650b the way to go for a gravel bike?

Health: Injury rehabilitation specialist Paul Argent takes an in-depth look at how to prevent lower back pain from cycling by making changes to your body, not your bike.

Tech: The Rotor Uno groupset is different. Tech Editor James Huang reviews the groupset that features a fully hydraulic system for both the derailleurs and brakes.

Today’s feature image is by Jered and Ashley Gruber from Ouray, Colorado.

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