Pinot takes Il Lombardia; Mitchelton-Scott sweep: Daily News Digest

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

Thibaut Pinot took an emphatic victory at Il Lombardia, the culmination of an impressive few months which included two stage wins at La Vuelta. Also, young sensation Egan Bernal continues to impress and Romain Bardet fell victim to an inattentive fan. And, Mathieu van der Poel seems invincible, winning a day after appearing to brutally strain his ankle. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the day: Pinot demonstrates cagey one-racing ability

We were first introduced to Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), like we are with most French riders, at the Tour de France. A young and blossoming Pinot took a surprise stage victory out of a breakaway and almost immediately he was marked as France’s next hope to win the Tour. He finished 10th overall at that Tour de France in 2012.

We also got to see Marc Madiot’s incredible passion, as he repeatedly screamed and pumped his fists out of the team car in an effort to urge Pinot on to victory.

Pinot’s grand tour GC career has been up and down, to say the least. Of the 11 grand tours he’s competed in, he has DNF’d five. But, when Pinot can get to the final finish line he nearly always finishes in the top 10. His grand tour highlight is third at the Tour in 2014.

When it comes to one-day racing, Pinot is untested. He rarely targets one-day races and the only classic he has consistently competed in is Il Lombardia. However, we get glimpses of Pinot’s innate one-day racing capability in the grand tours. The Frenchman races with what the cycling world calls Panache. He attacks relentlessly.

At Il Lombardia, Pinot instinctively followed Vincenzo Nibali’s (Bahrain-Merida) attack on the Muro di Sormano. The finish was still quite a ways away, but Nibali and Pinot are alike. They both race with Panache.

Pinot took a well-earned and impressive win in Italy to capture the final Monument of the year. He demonstrated he can indeed excel in one-day races. Will we see Pinot tackle more one-day races throughout the season? With his Lombardia win, it would be great to see him take on Liege-Bastogne-Liege. He clearly has the capacity to contend at the Belgian race.

Beauty of Cycling

Italy’s beauty was full display at Il Lombardia. The sun shone brightly upon the riders and the fall leaves created quite the scene up the infamous Muro di Sormano.

Race Radio

Hodeg and Bennett take final stages, Prades claims overall

Alvaro Hodeg (Quick-Step Floors) and Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) took the final two stages of the Tour of Turkey over the weekend. Eduard Prades (Euskadi-Murias) finished second on the final stage and was able to snatch the overall victory away from Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) due to the time bonus he earned.

Hodeg, a neo-pro, won in a bunch sprint and will finish out his first-year in cycling’s top tier with five wins. It was also Quick-Step Floors’ 71st victory of the season. Bennett’s win was especially impressive considering the sprinter attacked with 1.5 kilometres to go in the final stage and soloed to his stage win. It was his third win of this year’s race.

Mitchelton-Scott wins the 2018 Hammer Series

Mitchelton-Scott has taken out the 2018 Hammer Series courtesy of a clean sweep at Hammer Hong Kong over the weekend.

QuickStep Floors was initially given victory in the Hammer Sprint points event, but commissaires later disqualified two riders for rejoining the race incorrectly after punctures. Mitchelton-Scott started the Hammer Chase team time trial first as a result, the Australian team setting off 20 seconds ahead of QuickStep Floors.

The Belgian squad reduced that gap to 13 seconds at one point but Mitchelton-Scott held on to cross the line first, winning Hammer Hong Kong and the Hammer Series overall.

Overall 2018 Hammer Series standings:

1. Mitchelton-SCOTT 281.0 pts
2. Quick-Step Floors 234.1 pts
3. Team Sunweb 152.7 pts

Bernal is back

Egan Bernal, the revelation of this year’s Tour de France, demonstrated the hype surrounding his ability is warranted after an impressive 12th place at Il Lombardia. The result is sublime for a neo-pro, but even more impressive considering two months ago he was lying on the road in the Basque region of Spain with severe facial injuries after a massive pile-up in the finale of San Sebastian. Bernal underwent several surgeries after the accident, including repairing a nasal fracture and a dental operation to fix broken and missing teeth.

Bernal’s return to the peloton last week was remarkable, but his impressive performance demonstrates his drive and motivation. The Colombian recently signed a five-year extension with Team Sky, a contract length that is unheard of in cycling. He could have easily hung up his wheels for the year and prepared for next season, but he didn’t.

The 21-year-old raced five times in the last eight days, hitting the Italian one-day circuit. His week culminated at Il Lombardia when he would again give the world a glimpse that he has the potential to become a star. Bernal bridged to the lead group on a descent like a cagey veteran who knows the course blindfolded.

It may be time to stop calling Bernal the future of cycling. After a season filled with podium finishes and saving Chris Froome’s third-place finish at the Tour, Bernal has arrived.

At 21-years-old, Egan Bernal (Team Sky) rode above and beyond what many expected during this year’s Tour de France. Photo: Cor Vos

Bardet rues Lombardia results after taken out by spectator

Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) fell victim to an inattentive fan and the individual’s loose camera strap at the top of the Muro di Sormano. Bardet avoided falling but had to deal with untangling his bike. The Frenchman was already heading out the back of the peloton, his legs appearing not to be having a race-winning day.

’Cross round-up

Mathieu van der Poel recovered from a strained ankle to take the opening round of the Superprestige series in Gieten, The Netherlands on Sunday. The Dutchman crashed heavily early in Saturday’s Brico Cross Lokeren and withered on the ground in pain. It was initially feared he had broken his ankle due to the pain he was in and the way he landed on it. However, it was merely a strain and he was able to race on Sunday.

Also, in a rare occurrence, neither van der Poel or Wout van Aert won in Lokeren. The latter dropped out of the lead group due to a late puncture. Dan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vasgoedservice) took a surprise victory.

In the women’s race at Gieten the 2017 under 23 world champion Annemarie Worst delivered her first elite win in impressive style. The young Dutch rider bridged to seven-time world cyclocross champion Marianne Vos in the early stages of the race then used her sand skills to get a gap and hold it. She rode on to a solo victory, crossing the line 33 seconds ahead of Vos.

Tweet of the day

Lotto-Soudal teammates Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt are doing a 1,000-kilometre bike packing ride back to Belgium after finishing Il Lombardia over the weekend.

Moving Pictures

Il Lombardia highlights

Thibaut Pinot’s winner’s interview

Today’s feature image: Thibaut Pinot wins Il Lombardia in solo fashion.

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