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It’s hard to forget Annemiek Van Vleuten’s harrowing crash at the Rio Olympics. The fall knocked her unconscious. Two years on, Van Vleuten is again fighting to return from injury, but this time the process is more difficult and will test her mentally even more than before. Also, will Chris Froome defend his title at the Giro? And, Mathieu van der Poel showed he is indeed human at the Koppnebergcross. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Van Vleuten ambitiously targeting return for Ardennes classics
Earlier this week, Annemiek Van Vleuten reached a milestone as she pedaled a bike for the first time since major surgery to fix a knee fracture and detached ligament from a crash at the world road championships.
The Dutchwoman has experience with comebacks. In 2016, she returned after her horrific crash in Rio to capture the Lotto Belgium Tour. However awful that crash was, Van Vleuten was back on the bike a week later. This go around, she faces months of rehab.
“I knew it was bad but only after the finish, I felt it was really really bad. I couldn’t go on the bike, I couldn’t walk. In the race itself, I think my will to win was bigger than the pain I felt so that is why I continued,” Van Vleuten said in a press release. Mitchelton-Scott announced she extended her contract through 2020.
Van Vleuten is undergoing therapy at the Dutch federation sports centre, where she goes five times a week and sees a physiotherapist there twice a day.
“I have had some setbacks, I have dealt well with disappointment before but I find it challenging to again have such a big disappointment and I couldn’t really celebrate my world championship title,” Van Vleuten said. “It is hard, I also missed out on a holiday to recharge the batteries. I have a really long rehab period but I know I can do it. I have to try to see the positives of small milestones, like already this week to start with physiotherapy.”
The two-time world time trial champion has a long road to be back on top of the podium, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her at the Ardennes classics despite admitting, “realistically my goals should be towards the end of the season.”
The Beauty of Cycling
Sometimes we can take a bike for granted. We gush and gossip and dream about owning the latest bikes that have astronomical prices attached to them. For many of us, a bike is essentially an adult toy. We don’t need it, but rather want it.
World Bicycle Relief released a video alongside the beginning of its “Give Go” campaign to demonstrate what a bike truly means in rural Africa. Learn more about the campaign here.
Froome coy about Giro start
Chris Froome will not ride the Giro. That was the consensus before the 2018 Giro route announcement. Would the Briton risk his chance to join the Tour five-time champ club to put a maglia rosa in his closet?
This year, Froome did indeed ride the Giro, put a maglia rosa in his closet, and looked lacklustre at the Tour. A year on, the winner of all three grand tours is being coy about starting the Italian grand tour next season.
“I still don’t know for sure if I will be at the start, but it is a decision to be taken together with the team,” Froome told Gazzetta dello Sport. He went onto add, “If I will not be there, however, there will be one of my teammates and will aim to win.”
CyclingTips’ own Caley Fretz put Froome’s bullish attempt at the double last year down to hubris. The Giro-Tour double did prove extremely difficult and with only four weeks between the Giro and the Tour in 2019 compared to five weeks this year, it looks doubtful Froome will be on the start line in Bologna.
Van der Poel has an off day, shows he’s human
Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel has shown invincibility when it comes to cyclocross over the last year and a half. Last season he captured over 30 wins, the European championship and his one blemish was the world championships when he only finished third.
November 1 marks a hallowed day in Belgium. It’s the day Belgian fans descend upon the famed Koppenberg to watch the best cyclocrossers in the world turn themselves inside and out up the cobbled road’s 22-percent grade. Van der Poel, the defending elite men’s champion at Koppenbergcross, opened his season with six victories. OK, he didn’t start racing until October after taking a break from an intense summer of mountain bike and road racing, but still it’s an impressive feat. At the 2019 Koppenberg race, he finished 21st, four minutes behind winner Toon Aerts. What happened?
“This was not fun, it looked like a déjà vu from two years ago,” van der Poel said. He finished 15th two years ago on the Koppenberg.
“I felt from the start to the top of the Koppenberg that I was very bad. Then it became a very long hour. The Koppenbergcross is certainly not one of my favourites around and all in all it is a day to forget. I do not really have an explanation for it, but it will be better on Sunday. Worse is not possible in any case.”
The European championships are Sunday in Rosmalen.
Lachlan Morton is returning to the EF Education-First-Drapac program in 2019. The Slipstream program gave him his first chance at the WorldTour in 2012 as stagiaire before giving him a two-year contract. Morton has been through a lot since his first stint with the program. A step away from racing, a bit of time racing at the Continental-level and an injury-plagued 2018 season with Dimension Data.
The Australian’s move to EF-Drapac is actually a predictable one considering the squad’s new direction with riding gravel events. You may remember Morton and his brother Gus from the three Thereabouts adventures they did with CyclingTips.
Tao Geoghegan Hart extended with Team Sky for another two years. The Briton debuted at the WorldTour in 2017 with the program and developed under the tutelage of Axel Merckx. Geoghegan Hart is gradually turning into a climbing domestique and had he not been on a similar race program as Egan Bernal he may have had more chances in 2018. He was part of the squads that guided to Bernal to victory at the Colombia Oro y Paz and Amgen Tour of California. He also completed his first grand tour this season, the Vuelta a Espana.
Also, retired pro Fabian Cancellara, who had long been an ambassador for Trek, is now working with Swiss brand BMC.
Cane Creek releases spiders for eeWings
Following on from the launch of its all-titanium eeWings crankset earlier this year, Cane Creek has created a pair of direct-mount spiders so that owners are able to use a wider range of 1x and 2x chainrings. In both cases, the spiders have a 110mm bcd with a black finish and should be available December, however, there is no information on chainline at this stage. Visit Cane Creek for more details.
In case you missed it …
Podcast: Caley, James and Neal are back in the basement discussing an array of topics from Neal’s weight-loss plan, power meters and radios in bike racing, and personalizing your frame with anodization.
Heart Health: Owen McGrath recalls the day his heart short-circuited — 219 beats per minute coasting downhill.
Commentary: Contributor Peter Flax has stopped wearing a helmet.
Backpacking: A backpacking adventure that started as simply a ride to pay back a debt — a single tube — but turned into something more.
Feature Image: Riding through Grand Junction, Colorado by Gruber Images.