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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Peter Sagan may no longer be the world champion, but he’s still cycling’s biggest star. The Slovakian is set to start his season in January, taking part in races on two continents that are just a week apart. Also, Wout Van Aert is attempting to join LottoNL-Jumbo in March, but his former team is blocking the contract. And junior sensation Remco Evenepoel will ease into racing in cycling’s top tier. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Sagan to race Down Under, San Juan back-to-back
Sagan has begun his season in Australia the last two years, winning a stage for the first time in 2018. He also won the Tour Down Under’s prelude, the People’s Choice Criterium. The 21st edition of the race will run January 15-20 with the opening criterium taking place on January 13. Sagan made waves at last year’s Tour Down Under by stopping and helping the banner clean-up crew on his way back to the race hotel after one of the stages.
The Vuelta a San Juan moved its start back a week and, thus, no longer overlaps with the Tour Down Under. Sagan is taking advantage of this and piling on the kilometres early in the season. The race confirmed to Diario De Cuyo that the Slovakian will indeed be on the start line for Argentinian race, which runs January 27 to February 3.
With his start at the Vuelta a San Juan, this means Sagan will not be racing the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. The race along Australia’s surf coast is on the same day racing begins in South America.
The Vuelta a San Juan also confirmed that Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and young sensation Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Floors) will be in San Juan. Fernando Gaviria is also expected to make his debut with UAE Team Emirates at the race.
After a busy January, Sagan will most likely head to the Middle East to race the Tour of Oman (Feb. 16-21). The cobble classics open on March 2 with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, though Sagan skipped those races this year. The new UAE Tour runs February 24 to March 3, so should Sagan race in Oman he could stay in the Middle East for the new stage race. The UAE Tour is a combined event of the previous Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours.
Tweet of the day
On Tuesday, CT editor-at-large Neal Rogers challenged EF-Drapac boss Jonathan Vaughters to a race up Flagstaff in Boulder, Colorado. Vaughters, who once held the record up Mont Ventoux, appeared to accept the challenge on Wednesday. “Bring it,” said Rogers, who once led a local cyclocross race for half a lap.
Van Aert attempting to join LottoNL-Jumbo for 2019
Three-time world cyclocross champion Wout Van Aert was expected to join Dutch WorldTour program LottoNL-Jumbo for the 2020 season, but after suddenly breaking his contract with the Verandas Willems-Crelan team he’s looking to move to cycling’s top tier next spring after the cyclocross season ends. However, Verandas Willems-Crelan and Van Aert are currently in a legal battle over the rider’s sudden departure from the team. The team is seeking financial compensation from Van Aert, citing loss of sponsorship.
The UCI is currently examining the case, according to Van Aert’s lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge. Van Steenbrugge explained to Het Laatste Nieuws that if the UCI sees no wrongdoing on Van Aert breaking his contract for “urgent reasons” then he will join LottoNL-Jumbo on March 1, a day before the first cobbled classic of the year Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
It is understood that Verandas Williems-Crelan must approve Van Aert’s signing with another team for the 2019 season since the Belgian was due to ride with the program next year. The team’s lawyer, Rudi Desmet, was adamant the team would not approve such a deal for Van Aert to ride for LottoNL-Jumbo without financial compensation.
Evenepoel easing into WorldTour racing
Double junior world champion Remco Evenepoel will make his debut with Quick-Step Floors at the Vuelta a San Juan. The race begins on January 27, two days after the Belgian’s 19th birthday.
Evenepoel was heavily recruited this past year, having taken the junior scene by storm in just his first full year of racing. He was perfect in championship races this past year. He won both the time trial and road race at the Belgian, European, and world championships.
The former football player on Belgium’s national junior team will ease into the season with one race a month until taking a short break at the end of April. He’s due to start the Tour of the Algarve, Tour of Catalonia and Tour of Turkey. Catalonia will be his first race at the WorldTour level.
CPA slams UCI anti-doping test during gala
Pieter Serry (Quick-Step Floors) was given a doping control during the prestigious Flandrien Gala earlier this week in Belgium and the CPA rider’s union has called for the UCI to have more respect for the rider’s private lives.
“It has been known that riders were checked on their wedding day, during a funeral or on the first school day of their child,” President Gianni Bugno said in a press release. “Now we read again about the case of Pieter Serry, who was checked out of season, outside the planned time, while he attended the Gala of the Flandrien. We can no longer continue to watch this way of working, which does not take into account the rights of these people – such as a private life…”
According to Wielerflits, Serry posted his testing availability in the UCI’s Whereabouts system for the morning, but the testers arrived at his house in the evening after he had already left for the Gala. The testers called Serry and he told them to come to the Gala, which they did. Serry missed half the event due to the doping control. He was able to see teammate and Belgian national road champion Yves Lampaert win the Flandrien of the Year award.
In Memoriam …
Former professional road racer Jonathan Cantwell passed away early this week, aged 36. The Australian spent many seasons racing at the Continental level in Australia and the US before making the jump to the WorldTour with the SaxoBank-Tinkoff setup for 2012 and 2013. He raced the Tour de France with the team in 2012.
In 2014, he joined the Drapac Professional Cycling in 2014 and raced for one season before being let go by the team. He later sued the team for breach of contract because he had signed a multi-year deal. The case was settled in May with the team paying a Cantwell a dollar.
Cantwell is survived by his partner and two children. CyclingTips extends its condolences to Cantwell’s friends and family.
In case you missed it …
Podcast: Caley and Neal chat with Peter Flax and ask him why he stopped wearing a helmet a few months ago. Also, James chimes in about the new SRAM 12-speed cassette that was spotted over the weekend at the Saitama Criterium in Japan.
Tech: Continental has gone tubeless with the new Grand Prix 5000 road tire.
Best of: With the help of our readers, we found what we think are the ten coolest bike shops in the world in 2018.
Feature Image: A flashback to the 2018 Paris-Roubaix and Peter Sagan leading the charge on the horrendous Carrefour de l’Arbre sector.