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WELCOME TO YOUR DAILY NEWS DIGEST. HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
Lance Armstrong remembers his friend Paul Sherwen. The 2019 Amgen Tour of California will feature two summit finishes — and no time trial. Two Olympic gold medalists, Dani Rowe and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja, are retiring. New gear just in including Specialized shoes, Industry Nine wheels, and Continental tyres.
Story of the day: Armstrong remembers Paul Sherwen
Prior to his full-time commentary career, Paul Sherwen worked as press officer for the American Motorola team. It was there, in 1992, where he first met a young Lance Armstrong, whose reign of seven Tour de France wins would run parallel to Sherwen’s prime years behind the microphone.
Editor at Large Neal Rogers spoke with Armstrong on Monday about his 26-year relationship with Sherwen, his first impressions of the man, why Sherwen’s death has impacted so many so profoundly, and how Armstrong’s admission of doping changed their relationship, if at all. A few excerpts are presented below.
On his first impressions of Paul Sherwen at Motorola: “He was very close with Sean Yates, and Sean was on the team at the time, so they were always kind of hanging out together. Sean immediately took a liking to me. And I think via Sean’s interest, then Paul did, too. I think the first word I would use to describe Paul was that he was very confident. He was very good at what he did, and he knew it, just in kind of a British — and I don’t mean arrogant — but just in a very professional, confident, British way. If Paul said to do something, nobody really debated or argued with that, you just did it.”
On why his death has impacted so many people so profoundly: “He was a gentleman, and he treated people with class and fairness. He was a great conversationalist and he was funny, and witty, he was all of that. He was also an international guy. His wife and family are American, he was British, he grew up in Africa… he had seen so many parts of the world that he could speak to. You didn’t have to talk about breakaways in the Tour de France or crosswinds in the Tour of Flanders. He could talk about gold mines in Africa, or he could talk about the dunes in South Carolina where he and his wife spent so much time.”
On their relationship after Armstrong’s admission of doping: “Paul raced at a time when you know it wasn’t as gnarly as the early 2000s or the late 90s, but you know he was racing with some gnarly people, too. I think he had a better understanding of just the demands of the sport and the pressures of the sport and the decisions that young kids make in order to just stay in the game. I’m sure it was awkward for him, because it seems that then started this period where it was almost like there was a mandate where you couldn’t mention somebody’s name. If my name has ever been mentioned on NBC in the last six years, the majority of the time it was by Paul Sherwen. I think he just had a deep understanding of how the game is played sometimes, and in some generations, warts and all. He was always just very fair to me, he never threw me shade, he never said anything, it was always met with a hug on the way and on the way out. I’m going to miss him.”
To hear the full interview, click here for a direct download, and here to listen on Soundcloud. The CyclingTips podcast is now on Spotify, as well, and you can listen to it there. Or just subscribe to the CyclingTips Podcast via RSS, iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.
Amgen Tour of California announces 2019 host cities
While all the route details have not been finalized, the picture of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California became clear Wednesday when the event announced its host cities. The May 12-18 event begins in Sacramento and ends in Pasadena. There are two critical climbing stages in the seven-stage men’s race and, for the first time, there will be no time trial.
Stage 2 climbs to high elevation, finishing at South Lake Tahoe, while Stage 6 includes the steep summit finish atop Mt. Baldy. The women’s three-stage race starts in Ventura and also has a Mt. Baldy summit finish. The annual Amgen Tour of California is the only U.S. men’s and women’s UCI WorldTour event.
2019 Lotto-Soudal jersey unveiled
Belgian WorldTour team Lotto-Soudal unveiled its 2019 jersey at the Ronde van Vlaanderen museum in Oudenaarde Wednesday. The jersey retains the team’s traditional red-and-white color scheme, however adds a dotted pattern across the bottom.
Dahle-Flesja announces retirement
The Queen of XC is retiring. Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja, a 10-time world champion, 30-time World Cup winner and the 2004 Olympic gold medalist, is ending her international racing career at age 45. Her last rainbow jersey was earned at the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship.
On Instagram, Dahle Flesja explained her retirement. “Decision is made. I did my last UCI WC. I raced my last Championship … and it feels okay. I stay passionate for our sport. My love for MTB will live strong for the rest of my life. I will continue to travel around the world promoting, motivating and sharing my experience for many more years. I do hope we meet somewhere for a nice talk and a good ride together. Thank you all for the great support. I will still be with you for many more years to come.”
Dani Rowe announces retirement
Olympic gold medalist Dani Rowe has announced her retirement from racing at the age of 28. The Welsh rider was part of Great Britain’s Olympic championship team pursuit squad in London in 2012, as well as three world championship squads from 2011-2013. Her seven-year road career included stints with Wiggle–Hond, Cylance, and most recently WaowDeals Pro Cycling.
“I feel privileged to be able to finish my professional cycling career on my own terms and in a great place mentally with the sport,” she wrote on her web site. “I’m an achiever and I’m driven through hitting and improving on targets I set myself. After winning a medal in the Commonwealth Games I have won a major medal in all that I can in cycling and it’s now time to enter the next chapter of my life.”
Spratt to return at Tour Down Under
After her most successful season in 2018, defending champion Amanda Spratt has confirmed her return to Adelaide for the Santos Tour Down Under next year. The Mitchelton-Scott rider won the queen stage in 2018 and took overall victory by 41 seconds. The 31-year-old’s success continued throughout the season with top-five finishes at all three Ardennes Classics, third overall behind teammate Annemiek van Vleuten at the Giro Rosa, and a silver medal at the world championships in September.The 2019 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under, held January 10-14 January, features two uphill finishes in the four stages.
“It’s a big target for me and the mixture of stages should suit me but also our whole team, so I’m excited to see what we can do together there,” Spratt said. “Returning to a race as defending champion is great, even more so when it’s in Australia in front of a home crowd. I haven’t returned to many races as a defending champion so it definitely makes this Tour Down Under even more special for me.”
Buchanan’s comeback hits a speed bump
Eight-time BMX world champion and two-time Olympian Caroline Buchanan underwent surgery Tuesday to have a broken plate underneath her sternum replaced. She explained the procedure on her Instagram account.
“My surgeon yesterday went in through the same scar, took the broken plate out and unfortunately underneath my sternum was still partly broken where the plate was broken and the bolts were popping and backing out! He had to re-brake the remaining healed area to clean the bone back and then put in a triple strength plate/rods/screws and reinforced it with matrix bone paste as a bone graft to make the area super strong again. Then he stitched me back up and I will have a drain in for a few days while I recover at home.”
TECH: JUST IN
Specialized S-Works Recon shoes
The new S-Works Recon shoes feature the same form-fitting Padlock molded heel cup, non-stretch Dyneema-reinforced uppers, slick machined aluminum Boa S3 Snap dials, ultra-stiff carbon fiber plate, and revised last as the latest S-Works 7 road shoes, but with a fully treaded outsole and a bit of light armoring around the toe. Actual weight for our size 43 test pair is just 606g, but retail price is a heady US$425/AU$500. However, if these prove to be the S-Works 7/S-Works 6 XC hybrid we’re anticipating, they should be some of the very best XC/gravel/CX shoes around.
Industry Nine Trail 270 24 Hole wheels
The 24-hole version of Industry Nine’s Trail 270 mountain bike wheels are built with the same 27mm-wide (internal width) tubeless-ready aluminum rims as the standard Trail 270 version, but with 24 aluminum spokes instead of the usual 32 to help bring the actual weight down to 1,682g. Retail price starts at US$1,225, with options for custom anodized color combinations on the hubs and spokes.
Continental GP5000 clincher tyres
Continental’s new GP5000 clincher tyres are now available for purchase. Dave Rome just mounted up a pair of the tubeless version (limited stock till early 2019), finding them a snug fit that offers simple inflation. His 700x25c samples weighed 299 and 290g (300g claimed), and are measuring up approximately true to size – 27mm on HED Belgium+ rims where 25c Schwalbe Pro One tyres measure at 30mm.
Happy birthday to…
Belgian Gianni Meersman, a two-time Vuelta stage winner who retired after the 2016 season due to cardiac issues, turns 33 today.
American cyclocross racer Ellen Noble, who turned 23 on Monday, celebrated her recent birthday in style.
Belgian Sylvere Maes, winner of the Tour de France in 1936 and 1939 and champion Paris-Roubaix in 1933, passed away on this date in 1966 due to cancer, at the age of 57.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…
Mitchelton-Scott pro Carlos Verona took us along on his favorite ride in the Pyrenees.
In May, Dave Everett traveled from Bayonne, France, to Stockholm to visit POC — and then raced home to witness the first moments of his daughter’s life
Feature Image: Splashing through the mud at the 2018 Superprestige Asper-Gavere. Photo: Kristof Ramon.