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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Italian Filippo Pozzato announced his retirement after a 19-year career. Also, Wout van Aert will ride for the LottoNL-Jumbo team in 2019 despite his ongoing legal case. And the Vuelta introduced a new jersey while scrapping another. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Pozzato’s retirement signifies the end of an era
Flippo “Pippo” Pozzato hung up his wheels today. The Italian entertainer spent 19 years in the pro peloton and while the results had dropped off in recent seasons, he was still a star attraction in every race at which he lined up.
I haven’t seen many riders walk into a bar and buy a crate of beer for the race staff, and then stick around and chat to us all. Friendly and accessible despite being the butt of absurd amounts of criticism. Not a great career but a pretty good one.
— Matt Rendell (@mrendell) December 18, 2018
Pozzato entered cycling’s top tier in the form of joining the infamous Mapei-Quick Step program. The 2000 Mapei team was full of young studs with future multi-time world champions Fabian Cancellara and Michael Rogers entering the ranks alongside Pozzato.
Years later Cancellara and Pozzato would go wheel-to-wheel in the spring classics. Both broke through in 2006 with Pozzato claiming Milano-Sanremo. Cancellara went on to win Paris-Roubaix weeks later. In 2008, Cancellara claimed Sanremo with a final kilometre solo attack. Who won the bunch sprint for second? Pozzato.
In a Facebook post, Pozzato talked of the struggles of 2018 both on and off the bike. His Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia pro continental team, whom he’d ridden for the last three season, missed out on invitations to many of the big races. Furthermore, Pozzato’s father passed away in the spring. He ended by saying he’s working on building a continental team for the upcoming season.
While Pozzato’s career should be celebrated, it cannot go without saying that he did have a checkered past (along with many riders of the late 1990s and early 2000s). He received a three-month ban in 2012 after admitting to having worked with the infamous Dr. Michele Ferrari.
Tweet of the day
Van Aert confirms 2019 contract with Team Jumbo
Three-time cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert will join the WorldTour peloton in 2019 as part of the Dutch Jumbo-Visma squad. A title sponsorship change will see the team move away from its current name as LottoNL-Jumbo.
The contract will begin on March 1, after the cyclocross season and is a three-year deal. The opening spring classics’ race, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad occurs on March 2 and van Aert is expected to be a part of Jumbo-Visma’s line up for the race.
Movistar’s big three will avoid each other in 2019
Movistar’s three-pronged approach at the Tour de France with Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, and Alejandro Valverde did not work. Team management seems to have learned from their mistake and the Big 3 will not ride a grand tour all together in 2019.
Valverde will ride the Giro and Vuelta with Landa joining the world champion in Italy, but heading to France in July and missing out on a trip to Spain. Quintana will race the Tour and Vuelta.
Vuelta swaps combination jersey for young rider jersey
The Vuelta a Espana will have a designated Best Young Rider jersey in 2019. The jersey will be white, like the Tour de France, and replaces the combination jersey and classification, which will be no more. The combination classification was calculated based upon a rider’s standing in the overall, mountain, and sprint classifications.
La Vuelta is finally embracing its status as the grand tour for the up and comers. The Spanish race is considered the go-to first grand tour among nearly all of cycling’s top teams. Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors) finished second overall at the 2018 race at just 23 years old.
Svein Tuft has always been an atypical professional road cyclist. He’s someone who prefers the simple life, in the mountains with little luxury. An explorer who fell in love with the sport through a bike trip with his dog when he was in his mid-twenties. Now he takes us on his favourite 3-day adventure gravel ride around his residence in Andorra.
Happy Birthday too …
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Deignan (30), the Briton recently became a new mom a few months ago. The former world champion made ripples throughout the cycling world when she announced her pregnancy a few months into the 2018 season. It is virtually unheard of for a female pro to take a year off to have a child.
Deignan’s pregnancy helped to bring pro women’s rights further into the spotlight. She parted ways with Boels-Dolmans and Trek Bikes swiftly moved in and signed the still-pregnant Deignan to be the marquee ride of its new women’s Trek-Segafredo squad. The UCI also announced this year that as part of the 2020 reforms, riders will receive maternity leave compensation.
Also, Mads Pedersen turns 23. In his second season racing in cycling’s top-tier, the Dane finished an impressive second at the Tour of Flanders at just 22 years old.
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Feature image: Flippo Pozzato’s unique tattoos.