Paris-Tours backlash; Rapha partners with EF-Drapac: Daily News Digest

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

While the new Paris-Tours route was a spectacle from a spectating point of view, riders and directors alike weren’t quite thrilled about the new gravel sectors. Also, Rapha is back in the WorldTour and will be working with EF-Drapac. Interestingly, the sponsorship agreement includes more than the brand’s high-end cycling apparel. And, a young Aussie is set to make his WorldTour debut a few months earlier than expected. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the day: Paris-Tours gravel parcours gets mixed reaction

Paris-Tours was a clash of old vs. new, but that was the whole idea.

As we noted in yesterday’s Daily News Digest, ASO completely revamped the typically sprinter-friendly Paris-Tours route this year and the result was a full-on classics-style race. Perhaps ASO noticed the success of Strade Bianche, put on by its rival organiser RCS, and wanted to emulate. Seven punchy climbs and nine gravel sections animated the new Paris-Tours in the final 60 kilometres. A day after we saw carnage spread across the vineyards of France, riders voiced their opinions on ASO’s attempt to modernize a century-old race.

Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere was so disgusted by the route, he tweeted during the race his team will not return next year even if his team were to win. Niki Terpstra finished second behind winner Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb).

Belgian cobbled specialist Oliver Naesen was quoted on Ag2r-La Mondiale’s website saying, “I found the gravel paths a little over-done. There were a lot of sharp pebbles cutting the tires, which made the race very random. Let’s say it was an experience.”

EF Education First-Drapac’s Sep Vanmarcke alluded in a post-race interview that all of the punctures were teams not being properly prepared for the gravel sectors and selecting the wrong tires. He was clearly a fan of the new parcours. He tweeted after the race, “Felt a bit like Paris-Roubaix.”

Remember the outcry when Tour of Flanders’ organisers changed the route and omitted the Muur and Bosberg finale? The new Oude Kwaremont and Patterberg final was also met with anger from fans. However, the anger has mostly subsided in recent years.

The same may be said for Paris-Tours. It may take a couple of years for riders and directors to get used to the new route. The race has the potential to become fall’s race for the cobbled specialists.

Race Radio

Rapha back in WorldTour, will sponsor EF-Drapac

After a two-year hiatus, British cycling clothing brand Rapha has returned to the WorldTour to sponsor EF Education First-Drapac. Rapha will provide more than simply clothing. It will work alongside the cycling team to produce in-house creative content, giving fans a peek behind-the-scenes. This agreement falls in-line with Rapha’s current trend, as the company has made a significant push in producing its own content since it ended its sponsorship of Team Sky at the end of 2016.

Lefevere finds new title sponsor, team will be Deceuninck-Quick Step in 2019

Patrick Lefevere has lamented for months about the struggles of finding another title sponsor for his Quick-Step team. His sponsorship struggle highlighted cycling’s financial woes, as Quick-Step is the WorldTour’s winningest program with 63 wins to date.

Today, Lefevere and Co. revealed that Belgian window designer and manufacturer Deceuninck signed a multi-year deal. The company has signed on as a title sponsor and the team will be known as Deceuninck-Quick Step for next season.

Transfer News

20-year-old Rob Stannard was slated to ride for Mitchelton-Scott in 2019, but after winning the under-23 version of Il Lombardia over the weekend, the Aussie will ride a few races with the WorldTour outfit to finish out the year. His first race will be Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday.

Stannard has spent the last two seasons riding for Mitchelton-Scott’s Continental development program Mitchelton-BikeExchange.

Eritrean national road champion Merhawi Kudus will join Astana in 2019 after spending the last five seasons with Dimension Data. Kudus, 24, is a pure climber and will most likely fall into a support role in the high mountains supporting the team’s GC riders like Miguel Angel Lopez. Trek-Segafredo announced Italian Fabio Felline, who has ridden for the Trek program since 2014, signed a one-year extension.

Belgian Pro Continental rider dies unexpectedly after heart attack

23-year-old Jimmy Duquennoy suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away suddenly on Friday at his home, according to a Facebook post from WB-Aqua Protect-Veranclassic.

Duquennoy was in his second-year with the Pro Continental program. He was a rider of the spring classics and made his Paris-Roubaix debut in 2018. This year’s Paris-Roubaix was overshadowed by the tragic death of Michael Goolaerts who suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and passed away.

WB-Aqua Protect-Veranclassic pulled out of Paris-Tours on Sunday after hearing the tragic news. Many riders took to social media to offer their condolences to Dunquennoy’s family and his team.

Coming up

The Italian one-day races continue tomorrow with the UCI 1.HC Tre Valli Varesine. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is set to race in his rainbow bands for the first time.

The six-stage Tour of Turkey also starts tomorrow. Despite being a WorldTour-level race, participation from the top-tier teams is not mandatory and, thus, only nine WorldTour programs will take the start. Four of the six stages are suited to the sprinters and Fernando Gaviria (Quick-Step) could run-away with all of them. His competition includes the likes of Trek-Segafredo’s John Degenkolb and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett.

Tech News

Frustrated by the proliferation of “standards”? Time to make your voice heard

Heralded hub and headset maker Chris King hosts an open house and custom builder showcase each year, and our own global technical editor, James Huang, will be moderating the industry panel discussion that will also take place there this Thursday, October 11.

This year’s event once again focuses on the proliferation of fitments in the bicycle industry: different bottom brackets, different headsets, countless proprietary tools, brand- (and model-) specific chainrings, etc. The discussion is intended to be framed in terms of how all of the above affects bicycle dealers, but a big part of that is also how all of this affects you, the end user and buyer.

Abbey Bike Tools bottom bracket

What do you think about the explosion of “standards”? Is it important to you to see regular incremental improvements in bicycle technology, or are these so-called upgrades more trouble to you than they’re worth? Do you even work on your own bike, or do you have someone else do it all for you? Do proprietary parts influence your buying decisions? Does all of this just need to stop?

Whatever your feedback on the topic, feel free to add your voice to the comment section below, and James will take it all to the panel when it meets later this week. Maybe — just maybe — there’s light at the end of the tunnel yet.

Happy Birthday to …

Annemiek van Vleuten (36), the Dutchwoman has been on a tear in 2018. She won the 10-day Giro Rosa and two days later captured a hilly edition of La Course. Her comeback has been quite remarkable considering her horrific crash at the Rio Olympics on the final descent of the road race.

Van Vleuten went down in a slightly innocuous crash involving some road furniture, but got up and managed to finish seventh. X-Rays later found an “eminence fracture” to her tibia.

In case you missed it …

Value: Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom takes a close look at all of the pros and cons for a custom-made frame.

Red Hook Crit: Filippo Fortin and Rachele Barbieri were victorious at the fixed-gear Red Hook Crit in Milan.

Today’s feature image: Wet legs at Binche-Chimay-Binche, where it was possible to win one’s weight in beer.

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