Aqua Blue suing rider for comments; Maternity leave coming in 2020: Daily News Digest

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

The circus that has become the Aqua Blue Sport program keeps getting crazier and crazier. Days after a rider complained publicly over lack of payments, the team sent an internal email to riders and staff countering the claims and saying it is seeking legal action against an unnamed rider. Also, maternity leave is coming to the Women’s WorldTour in 2020. And, Wout van Aert explains his recent controversial Instagram post and says spontaneity is going away due to the media. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Aqua Blue Sport pursuing legal action over rider

The defunct Pro Continental program Aqua Blue Sport has been cloaked in controversy since news of the team folding broke in August. The team did not race the Tour of Britain, as it was scheduled to do so, and has had to lean on its bank guarantee to pay riders and staff. Owner Rick Delaney said publicly contracts would be honoured despite the team folding midseason.

Now, days after a rider spoke out about not being paid, the team said in an internal email it is pursuing legal action against a rider. The email, obtained by Cyclingnews, details how the UCI is to blame for riders and staff not being paid.

While the rider the team is seeking legal action against was not named in the email, Andy Fenn did publish an open letter regarding payment on November 10. Team CEO Tom Timmerman, the author of the email, also pointed to team personnel not getting him the appropriate documents for the bank guarantee in a timely manner as a reason some have not been paid. It seems Timmerman is responding directly to Fenn’s letter and attempting to exonerate Aqua Blue Sport from any blame in terms of payment since the UCI approved the use of the bank guarantee. The bank guarantee is reported to be about 400,000 euros.

In the letter, Timmerman also announced he would be stepping down.

The Aqua Blue Sport story just keeps getting more and more unbelievable. From riders finding out the team was folding via Twitter, to team owner Rick Delaney abruptly leaving the team’s Whatsapp group, to the team seeking legal action against a rider. While cycling tries to overcome its doping past, the sport’s financial woes, like this year’s Aqua Blue Sport saga and last year Slipstream having to resort to crowdfunding, does not paint the picture of a stable sport.

The Beauty of Cycling

For our U.S.-based team, a snowstorm came through Boulder, Colorado over the weekend. This reminded us of our first snow storm of the season back in October.

Race Radio

Sagan’s head helps donate bikes

At the recent Rouleur Classic in London, a smiling bust of three-time world champion Peter Sagan was auctioned off benefiting World Bicycle Relief (WBR). The bust was created by sculptor Wilfrid Wood, who has done busts of other athletes and celebrities like Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

The winning bid on the bust was £2,500 and made by a designer by the name of “Moving Jim.” Along with the help of a matching donation, WBR said it will be able to donate 50 bikes.

Women’s WorldTour contracts to include maternity leave in 2020

The 2020 UCI reforms will see the quality of the women’s side of the sport improve dramatically and rightfully so. According to Cyclingnews, women will be allowed to take three months maternity leave while being paid 100-percent of their salary. After the first three months, an additional five months on maternity leave will be paid at 50-percent of the rider’s salary.

The relationship between Lizzie Deignan and Boels-Dolmans Director Sportif Danny Stam has soured since Deignan missed the 2018 season due to her pregnancy.

Former world champion Lizzie Deignan’s pregnancy this past season increased the conversation surrounding maternity leave in cycling. Deignan said she left the Boels-Dolmans program for the new Trek-Segafredo team in part because the Dutch team saw her pregnancy as a “risk.”

While there is still room for improvement on the women’s side of the sport, a minimum salary and maternity leave are important steps in the right direction.

Van Aert explains Instagram caption

On Sunday night, world cyclocross champion Wout van Aert posted a photo on Instagram of him giving the peace sign along with the caption “Peace allemoale and fuck ol the haters.” The Belgian finished third at the Superprestige race in Gavere, which was won by Mathieu van der Poel.

Van Aert has been heavily criticized in recent weeks for being unable to dethrone van der Poel. The comment was supposed to be playful and spontaneous but a few took it the wrong way, van Aert wrote in his weekly column for Wielerflits. He explained how a few media outlets saw the post as him taking a jab at his former team, Veranda’s Willems-Crelan, which was not the case.

Sunday’s Superprestige Asper-Gavere was a muddy affair as is the case most years. Photo: Kristof Ramon

Van Aert wrote how the phrase came to his mind on the way to the race and is from autistic West-Flemish rapper G Goran. The world champion said he was acting in the moment, but moments like that may be few and far between now. “Unfortunately. But in this way I have been reminded that I always have to pay attention to what I say or write,” Van Aert continued. “I should have known. The fact is that systematically that last bit of spontaneity disappears.”

’Gram of the day

Tech News

Bkool launches direct-drive smart trainer

Bkool is about to join the list of brands that offer direct-drive smart trainers with a stylish creation dubbed the Smart Air. It will be equipped with all of the usual features that have come to define smart trainers along with a max load of 3,000W and gradients up to 25%. According to the company, the Smart Air will sell for US$1,200 and should be available in January 2019. Visit Bkool for more info.

Happy Birthday to …

Laurens ten Dam (38).

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Feature Image: U.S. national cyclocross champion Katie Compton during the Superprestige Asper-Gavere race.

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