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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
The 2019 La Vuelta route is set. Fireworks will most certainly be on display, but it’s a race you’ll want to tune into earlier rather than later. Tosh van der Sande tested positive at the Ghent Six track event. And the new Polish-sponsored and registered CCC WorldTour team has its eye on signing all of the top talents from the home country. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: La Vuelta’s brutal opening week
It’s often said a grand tour can’t be won in the opening week, but it most certainly can be lost. La Vuelta has pushed back on that saying for 2019, as an action-packed first nine days of racing await the riders in late August.
The first week begins with a team time trial and ends with a short, difficult 96.6-kilometre ride across Andorra. Andorra hosted the final weekend of this year’s race and that is where Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) set in stone his first grand tour title. An intense battle will ensue as five categorised climbs dot the route. Furthermore, ASO added a bit more intrigue into the stage with the addition of a four-kilometre off-road section preceding the final ascent to the finish.
The race hops across the border to France for a 36-kilometre individual time trial on stage 10. The rest of the second week is rolling with a mix of flat and mountain stages. Stage 13’s finish atop Los Machucos should provide fireworks. However, six categorised climbs before the uphill finale could translate to defensive racing.
The final week is lacklustre compared to La Vuelta of past years. Two stages to note, 18 and 20, could provide last-ditch general classification shake-ups. The 2019 La Vuelta runs from August 24 to September 15. It will finish, as it has done most years, with a mostly ceremonious jaunt around Madrid.
Lotto Soudal rider tests positive at Ghent Six
Lotto Soudal suspended Tosh Van der Sande after the Belgian returned a positive doping test taken during the Ghent Six Days track even in November. The team explained the positive was for a substance which occurs in the nasal spray Sofrasolon. A press release further stated the substance is permitted in competition but must be mentioned during the anti-doping check.
Lotto Soudal did not say what the substance was and decided to suspend Van der Sande pending an investigation by the UCI.
CCC wants Kwiatkowski
CCC Team (formerly BMC Racing) is looking to become the new Team Sky of the WorldTour and could be possibly be poaching riders directly from the British team. CCC will have a Polish sponsor, owner, and registration in 2019. Sports director Piotr Wadecki has made it known that he’s looking to sign a wealth of Polish riders over the next few years and began by signing Lukas Wisniowski from Sky this offseason.
The most famous active Polish rider is of course former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski is under contract with Sky through 2020, but the recent news of the telecommunications giant pulling out as the sponsor and owner could make Kwiatkowski available in just a year.
Owner of Mavic and Enve acquired by Chinese company Anta Sports
Amer Sports, the owner of Mavic, Enve, Salomon, Arc’teryx, Suunto, Wilson, Louisville Slugger and a number of other brands, has been acquired in full by a consortium led by Chinese company Anta Sports. The deal was worth a reported US$5.23 billion. The purpose for the acquisition remains unknown, with speculation pointing toward Anta buying established brand recognition in footwear and apparel to help it expand into new markets, and/or grow the existing brands through its channels in Asia.
Enve was acquired by Amer for US$50 million in March 2016. Amer Sports reported a 10% loss in cycling sales during the 2017 financial year. It remains to be seen whether Anta will invest or divest in the cycling portfolio.
New gravel bikes
Australia’s newest bike company, Grove Bike Co, has launched with two high-end aluminium gravel bikes offering progressive geometry, a number of clever frame features and consumer-direct pricing advantages. Mated with a full carbon fork, the 1x-specific 6069-T6 triple butted aluminium frame is a unique design to Grove and offers clearance for up to 700x43c or 27.5×2.1in rubber while keeping the chainstays at a short 420mm. In addition to pannier and fender mounts, there are mounts for a top tube bag and three bottle cages.
Prices start from AU$2,599 for the R.A.D Apex (SRAM Apex 1), with the SRAM Force-equipped version starting from AU$3,599. The build kits are well-considered and from well-known brands, while wheelsets are the choice of the buyer – pick between alloy Alex wheels or upgrade to Hunt carbon version, both in a choice of 700c or 650B and with various tyre/gearing options. We’ll be testing the Grove R.A.D Force LTD over the new year break
Inside the Baum Workshop
The CyclingTips team have been lucky enough to take a look inside the Baum workshop. Darren Baum makes some of the most desirable bicycle frames in the world. Every bike is completely custom and usually made out of Titanium. We talk to the man himself and he shows us some secrets of the trade.
In case you missed it …
Weekly Spin: Some were wins on the road. Others were losses of the gravest nature. Some were decisions made behind closed doors, with massive implications. According to our Editor at Large, these were the 10 most impactful moments of the 2018 cycling season.
Feature Image: Adam Yates leads his brother Simon during the penultimate stage of the 2018 La Vuelta in Andorra.