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The cyclocross community visited one of its more hallowed courses this weekend. Also, the Giro Rosa is set for another high-mountain finish next year and a fight is breaking out to get one of the four wildcard entries to the Tour de France. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: The hallowed sand dunes of Koksijde
In northern Belgium on the coast of the North Sea lies a small town where sand dunes ebb and flow among the houses. The dunes seem out of place for 364 days out of the year, but for one day the dunes become a sacred place. The dunes are named after the champions that have won there. When Worlds visited in 2012, some 60,000 fans packed the dunes as Belgium took the first seven places in a show of utter dominance.
On Sunday, the wind gusted, the temperature hovered just above freezing, and fog hid the dunes. The elite races told the tale of this year’s cyclocross season. The elite women’s race was a thriller. The men’s race was underwhelming for those seeking a battle amongst the competitors, but brilliant in the mastery Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) demonstrated.
Dutchwoman Denise Betsema (Marlux-Bingoal) rode away from three others on the final lap to capture her first career cyclocross world cup. The elite men’s race was over in a matter of minutes with van der Poel simply on another level once again.
Koksijde is a place where complete cyclocross riders shine. The sand dunes require power and finesse. A select few can ride the hellishly steep sandy climbs in the dry. In the rain, that number shrinks to only the elite of the sport. The video below, from the 2012 edition, shows just how technically sound a rider must be when it does rain.
Beauty of Cycling
We had a fantastic weekend at the Giro Della Donna with Alberto Contador. Thank you to everyone that joined us in celebrating the beauty of cycling.
Gavia to host Giro Rosa summit finish
After this year’s Giro Rosa climbed the infamous Monte Zoncolan, the race will conquer the Passo di Gavia in 2019, according to Tuttobici. The 2019 Giro Rosa will take place July 5-14 and the full route is expected to be announced in March.
Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) dominated this year’s edition of the Giro Rosa. She won three stages, including atop the Zoncolan, along the way to claiming the overall title. Van Vleuten commented, “Love this!” on a tweet regarding the inclusion of the Gavia.
It is also being reported that next year’s Giro Rosa will include a team time trial that will pay tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Fausto Coppi. This could mean the stage will take place in Novi Ligure, Coppi’s hometown. This year’s race began with a 15.5km TTT in Verbania. The stage was won by Team Sunweb.
Fight for wildcard entries at Tour
Spanish squad Euskadi-Murias is vying to ride the Tour de France in 2019, according to AS. The team earned a wildcard entry into the Vuelta a Espana in August and managed to capture a stage win with Óscar Rodriguez. The team also won the general classification of the Tour of Turkey with Eduard Prades, but he will be moving on to Movistar in 2019. The team’s most notable signing this offseason was Team Sky rider Benat Intxausti.
For the past two years, the same four Pro Continental teams have earned a wildcard entry to the Tour de France. Cofidis, Direct Energie, and Fortuneo-Samsic are based in French and Wanty-Groupe Gobert is out of Belgium. All four were unable to win a stage in 2019.
Skujins wins Latvian cyclist of the year
Friend of the CyclingTips podcast Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) was named Latvian cyclist of the year over the weekend. He had a stellar season that included winning a stage and taking home the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour of California in May. In July, he made his Tour de France debut and wore the polka-dot jersey for five stages. He topped off his 2018 season with the victory at the one-day Tre Valli Varesine in October.
Happy Birthday to …
Steven de Jongh (45), the former professional turned sports director gave the cycling a community a scare last month when he didn’t return from a ride in Spain. Strava was used to help pinpoint his location and rescue crews identified him via helicopter. He was unconscious in a ravine when rescue personnel finally got to him. De Jongh has been recovering at home and plans to join Trek-Segafredo at its first team camp in December.
As a racer, de Jongh was a rider of the spring classics. The Dutchman captured Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on two occasions (‘04, ‘08) and also E3 Prijs Vlaanderen (now called E3 Harelbeke) in 2003.
Feature Image: Mathieu van der Poel out front and all alone during the 2018 Koksijde world cup.