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Alejandro Valverde is set for a hefty classics’ campaign in the rainbow bands. It won’t be only the hills of the Ardennes, but also the cobbles of Belgium in 2019. Young prodigy Ivan Sosa is set to join Team Sky and the Giro d’Italia is at risk of not having TV coverage. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Valverde’s cobbled quest
Alejandro Valverde’s career seemed complete when he captured the world road championship in Innsbruck in September, but the Spaniard appears to be eyeing the cobblestones of northern Europe. The Movistar rider is set to take on the Tour of Flanders and the mini-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2019.
The 38-year-old’s foray into the cobbled classics is rather interesting. The question is, why would Valverde add a slew of crash-filled cobbled races ahead of the Ardennes classics where he is a dominant force? Is it a case of hubris like Chris Froome’s Giro/Tour double attempt?
Flanders Classics, organizers of the two cobbled classics Valverde is set to take part in, could be paying Valverde to start. Though there are no reports to suggest this, start fees do exist in cycling. Lance Armstrong was paid a reported US$1 million to take part in the 2009 Santos Tour Down Under. Or does Valverde simply feel invincible after claiming the one race he so desperately wanted? It’s not often a rider that wins as much as Valverde breaks down in tears after crossing the line.
Valverde will be racing the Tour of Flanders for the first time but raced Dwars door Vlaanderen this past season in horrific conditions. He impressively made the front group and finished 11th. However, Dwars door Vlaanderen is not the Tour of Flanders. Valverde will gain confidence from last year’s Flanders where Vincenzo Nibali, another climber with a classics’ racer mentality, was in the mix deep into the finale of the race.
Valverde has the ability to be a factor at Flanders, but the classics are also crash-filled races. He could be risking his run at the Ardennes classics to show the world no terrain is too tough for him.
The Beauty of Cycling
The sport of cycling can be brutally cruel sometimes. Former U.S. criterium national champion Travis McCabe had a rough go in Europe this past spring. He is arguably the fastest American when it comes to sprinting, but has yet to find a team for next season due to the demise of UnitedHealthcare.
Will the Giro be on TV in 2019?
Reports indicate that RCS Sport, owner of the Giro d’Italia, and Italian broadcaster RAI have not yet agreed on a contract to televise Italy’s biggest race. RAI would be responsible for the producing the broadcast of all of RCS Sport’s races (Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, Milano-Torino, Tour of Piedmont, Il Lombardia).
According to Il Messaggero, RCS Sport is asking for 18 million euros from RAI plus the broadcaster is responsible for all production costs (TV motos, helicopters, TV trucks, etc.). The previous contract was for 12 million euros.
Interestingly, Italian law states that major sporting events, such as the Giro, must be available free-to-air. This greatly limits the broadcasters RCS Sport are able to negotiate with. In a conflict of interest, RCS owner Urbano Cairo also owns La7, a competitor of RAI and a broadcaster that meets the FTA requirement.
Sosa set to sign with Sky
Trek-Segafredo seems to have officially lost young sensation Ivan Sosa. The Colombian climber was initially announced as signing for the Trek-Segafredo squad, but it later emerged he never actually signed the contract. Team Sky swiftly moved in and Cyclingnews reports that Sky will announce Sosa’s signing this week.
On Team Sky, Sosa will link up with former teammate and countryman Egan Bernal. The two rode together on Androni Giocattoli in 2017. Sosa won a stage and finished sixth overall at the Tour de L’Avenir in 2018, a year after helping Bernal to the overall victory.
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