eRacing kicks off, an extra Flèche lap, the Bunch: Daily News Digest

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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:

eRacing is here in a big way, we kick off a new weekly show, the US won’t bring a full complement of men to cyclocross worlds, and the company behind Fuji, Kestrel, and Performance Bike has been purchased. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.

Story of the Day: The Zwift esports series is here

The new KISS Super League (Great name? Or terrible name? You tell us.) will kick off in London on Wednesday night with 15 Pro Continental and Continental men’s teams on board. For those not familiar, KISS is an eRacing league, hosted on the Zwift online riding platform.

The KISS league will feature 10 races, strung together as part of a series. Teams of four will race against each other each week, and points will be accumulated toward the championship.

Anyone who has ever Zwifted knows it’s chock full of amateurs churning out Froome-esque power to weight ratios. In other words, it’s quite easy to cheat, either by using a wonky power meter or by changing your claimed weight. To counteract that, KISS requires all riders to use heart rate monitors and organiser-provided power meters. Weigh-ins are likely to be implemented as well.

The first event will be streamed live on Facebook, starting at 7 pm GMT. The race itself will be run over 40.2km on Zwift’s Watopia Volcano Climb After Party circuit. If you don’t speak Zwift, this is a route through a virtual world of lava and rock walls that rolls up and down before climbing in the last 4km up the virtual volcano.

The women’s league will start on February 5th. Canyon-SRAM and Cervelo-Bigla are on the startlist.

Teams are currently being built exclusively for the eRacing space, including one that will be sponsored by Canyon. The team hasn’t formally been launched just yet, but we did a bit of digging and found out that it’ll consist of ten riders, five men and five women, and Wahoo and Nuun are both on board as sponsors as well. It’s not racing the KISS series, and won’t race outside.

Our own Matt de Neef recently checked out the eCrit national championships in Australia to see what it’s all about.

The 15 teams that will race the KISS series:

Hagens Berman Aexeon
Israel Cycling Academy
Novo Nordisk
Dimension Data U23
Canyon-DHB p/b Bloor Homes
Team Wiggins-Le Col
Arapahoe-Hincapie p/b BMC
Madison Genesis
Oliver’s Real Food Racing
SEG Racing Academy
Pro Racing Sunshine Coast of Australia
Ribble Pro Cycling
Zwift Community All Stars team
Zwift Academy Dream Team.

Just hours after defending her national criterium title on the road, Bec Wiasak was on hand to cheer on her fiancé Ben Hill in the eCrit championships.

Race Radio

An extra lap at Flèche
Organisers of La Flèche Wallone have adjusted the finale once again for 2019, adding an extra lap of the finishing circuit, which includes the Côte d’Ereffe, Côte de Cherave, and Mur de Huy. The women’s course remains unchanged.

The route packs tough climbs into its second half, compared to last year’s race, won by Julian Alaphilippe. It should be the most difficult Flèche finale in some time. In recent years, riders entered the hilly finishing circuit with 58km remaining. Now they’ll enter at 76.5km to go.

The women’s course remains virtually identical to 2018. It will be 118km and finish on the peloton’s second ascent of the Mur.

In other Flèche news, the race announced its seven wildcard invites. Off the list was Warren Barguil’s Arkea-Samsic squad, and on it was American team Rally UHC, a surprise invite. Also invited are Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Wallonoie-Bruxelles, Sport Vlaanderen Baloise, Cofidis, Israel Cycling Academy, and Euskadi-Murias.

Compton, Hyde headline US cyclocross worlds team
Katie Compton and Stephen Hyde headline a slightly diminished US team for cyclocross worlds. The US men failed to secure a top-five international ranking, and will not arrive in Bogense, Denmark with a full complement of six riders.

The US team:

Elite Women — Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek and Knight Composites), Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX), Samantha Runnels (Squid Squad), Elle Anderson (Milwaukee – AlphaMotorhomes), Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano CX)

Elite Men — Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano CX), Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), Anthony Clark (Squid Squad), Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized).

Carapaz and Quintana to open seasons at Vuelta San Juan
Richard Carapaz and Nairo Quintana will open their seasons in Argentina at the Vuelta San Juan, Movistar announced Tuesday.

The stage race sets off on January 27 and includes a 12km time trial and three climbing stages. Stage four contains a real test (at least for winter form), the 19km, 5% Alto Colorado.

Moving Pictures

Introducing: The CyclingTips Bunch
Roving Reporter Dave Everett is kicking off a new video series this week, which we’ve tentatively called The Bunch (if you have a better name for it, comment below). Dave will wrap up the week’s racing and tech news, plus provide a bit of insight into what the CyclingTips crew are working on.

Tech News

Head Sports buys Performance owner ASE
Head Sports, the European sports conglomerate known for skis and tennis rackets, has agreed to purchase most of the assets of Advanced Sports Enterprise (ASE), owner of the Performance Bike shop chain as well as bike brands Fuji, Kestrel, and Breezer.

The purchase, for $21.5 million, begins to chart a path forward for the beleaguered company. ASE announced last fall that it would close over 100 stores as it filed for bankruptcy.

Last week, Specialized agreed to pay $700,000 for the Roubaix trademark that was formerly held by ASE.

Read more at Bicycle Retailer.

Rouleur Classic expands to Melbourne
Corporate Cycling, the events company behind the Australian Handmade Bicycle Show, are bringing the Rouleur Classic to Melbourne come the 28-30th of November.

The Rouleur Classic is a London-based consumer-facing tradeshow with a twist, where pro riders and aspects of racing are central. The 2019 edition is themed around the Grand Tours.

Happy Birthday to …

Abraham Olano (49), who won a Vuelta a Espana and was one of the sport’s dominant time trialists in the late 90s.

In case you missed it …

Phil Anderson, yellow yerseys, and an ’82 Peugeot
Rupert Guinness sits down with Australian legend Phil Anderson to talk about his restored ’82 Tour de France bike, plus Richie Porte’s chances and Caleb Ewan’s sprint.

Feature Image:Alejandro Valverde attacks the Mur de Huy in 2017. Photo by Kristof Ramon.

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