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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Alejandro Valverde defended his reputation and palmares in Japan at the Saitama Criterium. Also, the Vuelta a Espana wants Chris Froome, and Wout Van Aert is done apologizing for not being able to beat Mathieu van der Poel. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Valverde defends palmares pre- and post-doping ban
When Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the world road title in Innsbruck, one of us at CyclingTips wished he hadn’t won and another explained how his win caused a conundrum in the cycling world. Speaking at ASO’s Saitama Criterium, the Spaniard reinforced he has never tested positive during his career.
“The question I do not think is already whether I have to regret something or not. I never gave positive, but it was decided that I should be sanctioned and I was,” Valverde told AS when asked if he regrets anything in his career.
“I fulfilled the punishment and since then the only thing that has worried me is to enjoy cycling. Let each judge me as he sees fit. But aware that I have done everything possible to show that I not only won before but after fulfilling my sanction I have been even better.”
At 38, Valverde’s career should be winding down as Father Time catches up, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down. His emphatic comeback 2018 season from the horrific crash in the rain on the opening day of the 2017 Tour de France included 14 victories. He’s stated he plans to race through the 2020 season and Tokyo Olympics where he will be considered a favourite on the climber-friendly course.
Tweet of the day
Trek-Segafredo director sportif Steven de Jongh is still recovering from his injuries sustained in the riding crash that left him unconscious in a ravine, but he got an emotional boost when Strava sent him a T-shirt signed by employees offering him get well soon wishes. Strava was key in helping to locate de Jongh after his wife put a call out on Twitter saying he hadn’t returned home from his ride. Using Strava’s live tracking, de Jongh’s last known location was pinpointed and gave rescue teams a rough estimation where he might be.
— Steven de jongh (@stevendejongh) November 5, 2018
Vuelta director calls on Froome to return
In an interview with Cycling Weekly, La Vuelta a Espana director Javier Guillén called on Chris Froome (Sky) to return to the Spanish grand tour in 2019 and confirmed next year’s route would include two time trials and seven to nine summit finishes.
“I think next year he’ll want to get his fifth Tour de France but for me no matter what his schedule is I see Chris Froome in the next Vuelta,” Guillén said.
Froome’s 2017 La Vuelta victory, where he became the first Briton to win the race overall, has been cloaked in controversy after it was later revealed he tested for double the amount of allowed Salbutamol in a post-stage test carried out after the 18th stage. The UCI cleared Froome of any sanction just prior to this year’s Tour de France.
The four-time Tour champ is expected to target the Tour and skip his title defense at the mountainous Giro d’Italia in May. La Vuelta is considered the second-chance grand tour for riders to redeem themselves after underperforming at the Giro or the Tour. The Spanish race is also often used to introduce young riders to grand tour racing.
Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) captured his first grand tour victory at this season’s edition and was joined on the podium by two young sensations Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana). The full route of La Vuelta is typically revealed in January.
Van Aert is done explaining why van der Poel was better
Wout Van Aert is a three-time world champion, having worn the rainbow bands since he first won the title in 2016 in Zolder. However, over the last year and a half, Mathieu van der Poel has gotten the better of him in nearly every other race.
Van Aert is done explaining why he couldn’t match van der Poel’s pace after again coming second to the Dutchman at the European cyclocross championships.
“Why can not I follow? I am always the only one who has to give an explanation. I will stop today,” Van Aert said in the post-race interview according to Sporza. “I do not want to apologize anymore because then I am the whining again … Mathieu was better and he is the deserved champion.
“It would be a mistake to go home satisfied now. I am world champion and a real sportsman should always be the best, that is my [ambition]. I came here for the title, but you have to be realistic and able admit that it [was not for me] here today.”
Burgos-BH continental team facing possible sanction after second positive
Spaniard Ibai Salas received a four-year ban for an adverse passport finding, the UCI said today in a statement, but the entire Continental Burgos-BH squad could be forced to sit out from racing for an extended period. Salas’ positive is the second for the team in a 12-month period, which triggers the UCI anti-doping rule that calls for the suspension of the team for 15 to 45 days.
David Belda was banned for four years for EPO on December 13, 2017 for samples he provided during out-of-competition tests on March 10, 2017 and 22 March 22, 2017. The UCI said it has referred the matter to the Disciplinary Commission, which will decide whether or not to sanction the Burgos-BH squad and, if so, for how long.
’Gram of the day
From over the weekend, former world and Olympic cross-country mountain-bike champion Jaroslav Kulhavý demonstrating his stair-riding technique.
Saitama Criterium highlights
Happy Birthday to …
Former Milano-Sanremo winner and Aussie Matthew Goss (32).
Also too, Briton Ben Swift (31).
In case you missed it …
Tech: Spotted at the Saitama Criterium in Japan were early samples of SRAM’s revamped 2019 Red eTap wireless road groupset, which features a new 12-speed cassette, a one-piece machined aluminium double chainring, a new Quarq power meter, updated lever ergonomics, a clutched rear derailleur, and more.
Gallery: Day three highlights from last week’s Philly Bike Expo include custom head tube badges from Jen Green, a new disc-brake facing tool from VAR, Industry Nine’s colourful new mountain bike stem, and a fresh take on a custom finish for your current bike.
Feature Image: The rolling hill country in the Catalunya region of Spain.