Tour to feature gravel summit finish; Costa back riding after leg amputation: Daily News Digest

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

Tour de France organisers ASO are set to release the route of the 2019 Grande Boucle and rumours have surfaced of a gravel summit finish. USA Cycling CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall will become CEO of apparel brand Assos at the start of the new year. Also, Quick-Step is bringing in some young talent for its classics’ squad and the Trek-Segafredo director that was found unconscious in a ravine on the side of the road in Spain last week gave an update on his health. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the day: Tour to feature gravel summit finish

The full route of the 2019 Tour de France is set to be unveiled on Thursday in Paris, but rumours are swirling that the first summit finish of the race will be at La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges Mountains. According to French media reports, the Tour will go beyond its normal finishing point on the mountain and instead tackle a dirt section with gradients upward of 24%.

La Planche des Belles Filles is new to the Tour de France, as it was only first used in 2012. Chris Froome beat a select group to the line on that occasion that included eventual Tour winner Bradley Wiggins and Aussie Cadel Evans. Vincenzo Nibali won solo in 2014 and cleared the way for a dominant Tour victory. Fabio Aru won alone when the climb was last used in 2017.

Adding gravel sectors at the Tour de France is something of a new trend as gravel racing and events explode across the cycling world. On stage 10 this year the riders tackled a two-kilometre gravel section on the Plateau des Glières. ASO also added dirt sections to this year’s Paris-Tours.

The Beauty of Cycling

Adrien Costa, who mere months ago was involved in a horrific climbing accident that resulted in his right leg being amputated, is back and riding. Christopher Blevins, a friend and former teammate of Costa’s on the Hagens Berman Axeon team, posted a photo of Costa out riding in California.

Race Radio

Bouchard-Hall appointed CEO of Assos

Derek Bouchard-Hall, who is set to step down as CEO and President of USA Cycling at the end of the year, will move into the role of CEO of Switzerland-based apparel company Assos. Assos is the official apparel sponsor of USA Cycling and its National Teams.

“Deciding to leave USA Cycling was the hardest professional decision of my life, but after all we’ve achieved the past three years, I’m confident in the team’s continued success. The opportunity to join ASSOS and lead one of the greatest global brands in the sport of cycling at a time when it is poised for significant expansion is extremely compelling to me,” said Bouchard-Hall.

Current Assos Chairman & CEO Phil Duff will be stepping down as CEO, but will maintain his role as Chairman of the Board. Bouchard-Hall will work out of Assos’ global headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland.

Transfer News

Mikkel Honoré will ride for Quick-Step Floors in 2019 and 2020 after riding for the program as a stagiaire towards the end of the 2018 season. At 21 years old, he provides much-needed youth to Quick-Step’s aging classics squad. Honoré finished fifth at the under-23 version of Gent-Wevelgem.

Also, Pawel Bernas will transition from the Pro Continental CCC Sprandi Polkowice to the CCC WorldTour team. He’ll be expected to play a key role in supporting Greg Van Avermaet in the Spring Classics. UAE Team Emirates gave former world champion Rui Costa and Rory Sutherland one-year contract extensions.

Tweet of the day

A week ago a shockwave rippled through the cycling community as Trek-Segafredo director Steven De Jongh had not returned from his ride. With the help of his Strava data and thousands of Twitter messages regarding his disappearance, De Jongh was found, but at the time he was unconscious in a roadside ravine.

The Dutchman posted a series of tweets thanking everyone for their support and that he is doing well.

Tech News

Pinarello launches new Grevil+ gravel and Crossista cyclocross bikes

Fitting up to 650Bx2.1″ or 700x42mm rubber, the Grevil+ is the latest gravel ride from the historic Italian company. Compared to Pinarello’s previous gravel offering, the Gan GR-S Disc, the performance-orientated Grevil+ mixes modern gravel elements with a Dogma F10-inspired design, including distinctive angular edges, aero tube profiles, asymmetric construction and a shielded front disc caliper.

Further elements include the optional “E-Link” Di2 integration, Italian threaded bottom bracket and proprietary seatpost. The frame works with both 1x or 2x gearing systems and features space for a third bottle underneath the downtube. The Grevil+ offers a high modulus carbon with enhanced impact protection, while the Grevil is the same bike with a cheaper layup. Learn more here.

The between-the-tape racers aren’t left out either and Pinarello’s new Crossista cross bike is similarly Dogma F10-inspired. Like the Grevil+, this frame features Pinarello’s “Flatback” aero tube profiles, an Italian threaded bottom bracket and internal cable routing for either electronic or mechanical gearing. There’s also an asymmetric horizontal top tube that’s said to “adapt to the ergonomics of the shoulder.”

Happy Birthday to …

Chris Horner (47), the American is the oldest grand tour winner of all time. He beat Vincenzo Nibali to the 2013 Vuelta a Espana title.

Chris Horner during stage 20 of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana which tackled the infamous L’Angliru climb. Photo: Cor Vos

In case you missed it …

Weekly Spin: In his weekly column, Editor-at-Large Neal Rogers analyses the WorldTour and calls its season-long narrative a fallacy.

Harsh Realities: Australian U23 road race champion Cyrus Monk sheds some light on the often not-so-glamorous life of a not-quite-pro cyclist.

Cyrus Monk captured the Australian under-23 TT title in January.

Today’s feature image: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) in the maillot jaune on the gravel section after the top of the Montee du plateau des Glieres during stage 10 of the 2018 Tour de France.

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