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Will Tom Dumoulin focus on the Giro or the Tour in 2019? That is the question on everyone’s mind. He tipped his cards ever so slightly toward one today. Also, two titans of cyclocross are having a war of words in the media regarding a certain individual’s dominance. And, Stig Broeckx rode for the first time since his horrific 2016 crash that put him in a coma for an extended period. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Dumoulin wants the Tour, but race Giro instead
After the 2019 Tour de France route was revealed, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) called the route “not ideal.” The Grande Boucle will only have 27 individual time trial kilometres next year and only 54 TT kilometres in all when the team time trial on stage two is factored in. The Giro d’Italia will have nearly 60 kilometres spread over three individual TTs in 2019, much more suited to Dumoulin’s strengths.
“The schedule of the Tour de France is far from ideal for me. I do not think that there has been a big round in recent years that fits my profile so badly,” Dumoulin told De Telegraaf at an event for the Amstel Gold Race. “In all respects, the Giro is much better.”
Dumoulin captured the maglia rosa in 2017, his first grand tour overall victory. He attempted to defend the title this year but finished second to Chris Froome (Sky). He later rode the Tour and finished runner-up there as well.
Both Dumoulin and Froome rode the Giro and the Tour and the fatigue of having a grand tour already in their legs was evident in both riders when it came to the mountains at the Tour. Both were unable to match the much fresher Geraint Thomas (Sky) when the road tipped upward. After the race, Dumoulin said he would focus on the Tour in 2019, but a climb-heavy route has made the time trial specialist second-guess that statement.
“On the other hand, I won the Giro once, while after the second place behind Geraint Thomas last summer is my big challenge to win the Tour,” Dumoulin continued. “At the end of July, I clearly stated that [the Tour] would become my big goal. I wonder now if I should put everything on the Tour in 2019.
“After the first discussions with the team, we tend to choose a grand tour. I currently do not really have a preference, so the team has the decisive vote. We will soon make that decision because the whole program depends on that choice. To ride the combination Giro and the Tour again? After this season I know how heavy it weighs twice and it is far from ideal to ride two [grand tours] every year.”
Broeckx rides for first time in more than two years
Stig Broeckx’s life changed forever when he was hit by a motorbike during the Tour of Belgium in 2016. The Lotto-Soudal rider was in a coma for six months and doctors feared he would never recover. He suffered a skull fracture in the crash and had bleeding on his brain. Two years later, after an unfathomable amount of hours spent rehabilitating, where he had to re-learn how to talk and walk, Broeckx is back on the bike.
Broeckx posted on Instagram a picture of him riding a mountain bike. He later told Studio Brussels the ride was 40 kilometres and his next goal was to ride his race bike.
“He still keeps cycling in his heart, he knows what happened, but that did not make him turn away from the race, on the contrary, he loves cycling, racing and his team,” Belgian cycling coach Paul Van Den Bosch, who has been following Broeckx’s recovery closely, told Sporza. Van Den Bosch posted a photo of Broeckx and Andre Greipel at the gym with the hashtags #nevergiveup and #keepongoing.
Van Den Bosch continued, “Stig’s girlfriend is fantastic, how she treats him is admirable, and the parents have always continued to believe in getting better, they are people who do not let the courage drop in. If you are surrounded by people who think positively, then you help that to continue taking steps.”
Van der Poel and De Vlaeminck clash
Roger De Vlaeminck, who won Paris-Roubaix on four occasions in the 1970s and won the world cyclocross championships in 1975, criticized Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) for his dominance during an appearance on Sporza at the Flandriencross DVV Trophy race. Van der Poel, who won the race, defended himself hours later saying he simply races to win not to make it exciting.
“After ten minutes you have seen everything in cyclo-cross,” De Vlaeminck said on Sporza while also mentioning he would like to coach Wout van Aert (Cibel-Cebon) to help the world champion get to van der Poel’s level. “It is no longer worth viewing. Van der Poel is a real Dutchman who wants to pull everything towards him. I understand that, but you can also make it beautiful if you are the best because I do not like it anymore. Van der Poel makes the sport a little bit broken.”
Van der Poel responded, “What do you want me to answer? I try to understand [De Vlaeminck’s comments], but that is a way of heading that simply does not lie with me.
“In addition, I think about what our dad says, if you [get a puncture] on three laps from the end, the competition will not wait. Look, I train as hard as possible during the week. I do not do that to make it exciting, but to win. Incidentally, I think 90% would do the same as me.”
European cyclocross has seen a considerable dip in TV viewership this year. The average race has lost 19% of its viewers compared to last year. Dutch media outlet Wielerflits did a poll asking individuals whether they agreed, disagreed, or no opinion with De Vlaeminck’s comments. After more than 4,300 votes cast, nearly 92% disagree that van de Poel is hurting cyclocross.
SuperDrome to host track event alongside Tour Down Under
Santos Tour Down Under organisers revealed a track event will be held at the Adelaide SuperDrome velodrome in association with the road stage race. The event will take place on the evening of Friday, January 11.
Steph Morton, a multi-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and current sprint world champion Matt Glaetzer have already confirmed their participation.
The Women’s Santos Tour Down Under runs January 10-13. The men’s event begins on Sunday, January 13 with the Down Under Classic criterium before the six-day stage race begins two days later.
Tickets for The Advertiser Track Down Under race can be purchased here.
Vuelta headed back to Andorra and France in 2019
The full Vuelta a Espana route will be unveiled on December 19, but this hasn’t stopped journalists and media outlets alike from poking around trying to get the scoop on next year’s route. According to a report in Spain’s AS, the Vuelta will return to Andorra for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five years. The race concluded with two tough mountain stages in Andorra this year before the annual finish in Madrid.
Furthermore, La Vuelta is set to return to France. The race started in Nîmes in 2017 with a team time trial. Pau is rumoured to be the destination this go around, possibly hosting a team time trial.
The 2019 Vuelta is confirmed to start in Torrevieja on August 24 with either an individual or team time trial. The race will finish on September 15 in Madrid.
Happy Birthday to …
Richard Virenque (49). The Frenchman holds the record for the most King of the Mountains classification victories at the Tour. He dominated the competition in the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. He took home the polka-dot jersey on seven occasions before retiring in 2004.
Virenque was part of the Festina-Lotus team during the doping scandal that rocked the 1998 Tour de France. However, he has never admitted to doping and has always claimed his innocence.
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