Froome defends Sky’s modern approach; Tafi’s Roubaix dreams: Daily News Digest

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

Chris Froome spoke in defence of Team Sky’s massive budget and claimed the team’s advantage comes down to its approach to the sport and not just that it has more money. Also, 1999 Paris-Roubaix winner Andrea Tafi is in talks with a WorldTour program so he can race Paris-Roubaix again and Luke Durbridge has extended his contract with Mitchelton-Scott. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: Froome defends Sky’s modern approach to cycling

Chris Froome, a four-time Tour champ and also a winner of the Giro and the Vuelta, said he plans on racing for at least five more years. This would put him at 38 years young at the time of retirement. He posted a video message today, revealing he will start his 2019 season at the Colombia Oro y Paz stage race in February. The Briton was in Colombia this past weekend relaxing and riding with former teammate Rigoberto Uran. He also participated in Uran’s namesake ride, Giro de Rigo.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Froome defended Sky’s dominance and reinforced the team’s modern approach. “When Sky started, in 2010, it had half of the current budget,” Froome said. “Then it increased thanks to the successes, which were a sort of flywheel. Of course, when the project started, the state’s money allowed for a very large recruitment, a huge and precise screening.

“Italy, France, Spain, there was a lot of cycling tradition when Sky entered. We have brought a modern, fresh approach, without the weight of tradition, without being influenced by the past. Take Geraint Thomas: he was a kid, the technicians went to his school, they did the tests, they showed him an opportunity in sport. And, like him, hundreds of other athletes. Money? It is not said that you enter the cycling with 50 million and win immediately.”

Sky’s approach has come under significant scrutiny over the past few years. There was Froome’s adverse analytical finding for Salbutamol, the jiffy bag affair, and the British Parliment’s finding that Team Sky crossed many “ethical lines.” Furthermore, Sky’s large budget has been seen as hurting the sport of cycling when other WorldTour teams are struggling to have budgets greater than USD$10 million. EF Education First-Drapac’s Jonathan Vaughters has been one of the most outspoken critics of the budget gap in cycling. EF-Drapac has a budget of around USD$15 million.

’Gram of the day

Former world champion and new mom, Lizzie Deignan, is back riding in preparation for the 2019 season. She took the 2018 season off while pregnant with her first child. Deignan is targeting next year’s world championships in her home region of Yorkshire.

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Tafi confirms he’s found a team to race Roubaix

Italian Andrea Tafi, who is seeking to race Paris-Roubaix 20 years after his 1999 victory, confirmed to Sporza he is negotiating with a team, but has not signed a contract yet. The 52-year-old made waves last month when he mentioned he would like to race the “Hell of the North” in 2019 and had entered the UCI’s anti-doping protocol in preparation. The UCI mandates that riders must be available for testing at least six months prior to entering competition.

“We have been negotiating for about two weeks now, it is a WorldTour team,” Tafi said. “I can say that in advance, but I can also talk to other teams.”

Tafi wants to not only race Paris-Roubaix, but also make a documentary around his attempt. He also said he is not negotiating with Quick-Step Floors.

Mapei go one-two-three at the 1998 Paris-Roubaix with Andrea Tafi (left, second place) Franco Ballerini (center, winner) and Wilfried Peeters (right, third place). Tafi won Paris-Roubaix the following year.

Nibali eyeing Team Sky in 2020

Vincenzo Nibali is under contract with Bahrain-Merida for next season, but beyond that, the Italian is open to signing with another program. The Bahrain-Merida program was built around Nibali, but the Italian has been open about seeking a ride elsewhere.

“In the past, we haven’t found the deal, but for sure Team Sky is one of the best teams in the world, they have won a lot of Tours de France and big tours – Giro d’Italia and Vuelta,” Nibali told Cycling Weekly. “We can open talks with all teams seriously and for sure Sky is one of the teams. We’ll take the decision about my future next year.”

Vincenzo Nibali is contemplating his options beyond next season. Photo: Kristof Ramon

Nibali is set to meet with French prosecutors this weekend in Grenoble regarding his crash on Alpe d’Huez at the Tour de France that left him with a fractured vertebra and derailed the rest of his season. The crash was caused when Nibali’s handlebars caught the strap of a roadside fan’s camera. Nibali and Bahrain-Merida are weighing legal options regarding the incident and Tour organiser ASO could be found responsible and required to pay damages.

Mixed team time trial to debut at Euro champs

Cycling fans will get the first glimpse of the new mixed team time trial relay event at the European championships before the event takes place at the world road championships in Yorkshire in September.

The new mixed relay event involves nations having two separate team time trial teams of three riders, one female team and one male team. The men’s team will ride the designated course first and after the second rider crosses the finish line the women’s team will start. A nation’s finish time is that when the second female rider crosses the line.

Durbridge stays with Mitchelton-Scott through 2020

Luke Durbridge has been a staple of the GreenEdge cycling program since its start in 2012 and he’s set to ride for the team in 2019 and 2020 after signing a contract extension. The time trial specialist is a powerhouse on the flats and is vital in team time trial stages that dot the grand tours. As Mitchelton-Scott has morphed into a grand tour team with overall ambitions, Durbidge’s role has only grown.

Mitchelton-Scott DS Matt White and Luke Durbridge discuss tactics prior to a stage of the 2018 Tour de France.

Happy Birthday to …

Jan Raas (66). The Dutchman is the undisputed King of the Amstel Gold Race. He won the hilly Ardennes classic five times throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. During his career, he also captured two Tour of Flanders titles and victories at Milano-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix. He loved the hills that surround the Limburg region of the Netherlands and was victorious at the 1979 world road championship in Valkenburg.

Jan Raas won the 1980 Amestel Gold Race in the rainbow bands as world champion. Photo: Cor Vos

In case you missed it …

In Memoriam: Jonathan Cantwell tragically passed away earlier this week. The tributes have been pouring in from friends, former teammates, and the peloton in general. A GoFundMe has been created to help support his two children and partner.

A Beach Road memorial ride will take place on Saturday, November 10, meeting at SwiftCarbon bike shop at 8am.

Perspective: Newly crowned cross-country elite women’s world champion Kate Courtney gives an inside look into her winning ride.

Adventure: In mid-September, British writer Tom Owen, his mate Ben, and photographer Matt Grayson flew over to Spain for a week-long bikepacking adventure. Inspired by one of the 20th century’s greatest authors, the journey produced no shortage of memorable moments, both on the bike and off. What follows is a series of four vignettes from the trip, as told by Tom, with photos from Matt.

Feature Image: Riders take the path less traveled during the YOLOmites 5000 ride in the Dolomites in Italy.

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