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WELCOME TO YOUR DAILY NEWS DIGEST. HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
What might have been a simple apology and disqualification for Iljo Keisse’s disrespectful behaviour in Argentina has turned into something much bigger; Woods beats Porte to take Sun Tour lead; Lucy Kennedy takes biggest win of her career, winning final stage and overall at Sun Tour; Landa breaks collarbone at first race of the season; Shimano releases limited-edition Aurora S-Phyre shoes.
Story of the day: Keisse saga intensifies
What might have been an apology, and disqualification, for Iljo Keisse’s admitted disrespectful behaviour toward an 18-year-old waitress in Argentina has turned into something much bigger for himself, his father, his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates, his team manager Patrick Lefevere, and his team’s sponsors.
On Wednesday, three Deceuninck-Quick-Step riders — Julian Alaphilippe, Alvaro José Hodeg, and Remco Evenepoel — skipped the Stage 4 podium ceremony at the Vuelta a San Juan and did not speak to the media, seemingly an act of protest after Keisse had been disqualified from the race one day earlier for an inappropriate gesture in a photo taken with the waitress last week in San Juan. The team’s media officer, Alessandro Tegner, claimed the riders were simply fatigued and that it was not an act of protest, saying, “They did not feel so good, so we decided to let them get on the bus quickly.”
The UCI race jury saw it differently, as Cyclingnews reported that all three riders — as well as team director Davide Bramati — were fined 500 Swiss francs; Alaphilippe and Hodeg were also each stripped of three UCI points. Tegner said the team would continue in the race, which took a rest day Thursday, seemingly contradicting Lefevere’s threat to pull his riders from the race following Keisse’s disqualification.
Adding to Lefevere’s tone-deaf comment in the Belgian press that the waitress “will want money, right?” — something she has denied — in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, Keisse’s father Ronie suggested that Keisse should sue the woman for bending over in the photo. “Iljo does indeed take a ridiculous pose and he should not have done that,” he said. “But that woman is also very suggestive with her ass [bent]. Who says that Iljo should not actually file a complaint against her?”
Why Lefevere and Keisse’s father both felt it necessary to provide cover for Keisse, even after his apology and acknowledgment that he was in the wrong, is unclear.
Meanwhile, the team’s sponsors appear to be distancing themselves from both Keisse’s initial action and Lefevere’s subsequent comments. Jerome De Bruycker, marketing manager of Deceuninck, told Cyclingnews that the Belgian window and door manufacturer “does not agree” with what has happened and “does not accept this behavior,” adding that he was reviewing and collecting social media backlash, which would be evaluated when Deceuninck CEO Francis Van Eeckhout returns from a business trip.
The team’s bike sponsor, Specialized, addressed the issue on Twitter, saying that it, “takes matters such as this extremely seriously,” and that the bike brand is “working with the team to reinforce the expectations we hold for all Specialized-sponsored riders.” In another tweet, responding to a question about Lefevere’s comments, Specialized wrote, “That statement does not align with our values.”
Update: Deceuninck-QuickStep team management issued the following statement on Thursday evening:
“The Team would like to make a sincere apology for the events of the past few days, firstly to the woman involved in this regrettable incident, and additionally to all women, fans, and sponsors. We don’t condone this type of behaviour. Our team’s core values include mutual respect, and that was not upheld in this situation. Iljo also personally acknowledges his mistake and takes full responsibility for his actions.
As a team, we are aware that one of our main roles is to educate the riders and make sure they demonstrate respect for everyone. The events of these past days are something which we can – and already have – learned from, and for that very reason we have decided to implement in the near future specific conduct training protocols for all riders and staff to ensure our values and make sure this kind of thing won’t happen again.
Again, we are very sorry to everyone affected by this regrettable incident.”
Woods beats Porte to take Sun Tour lead
That’s two stages of the Jayco Herald Sun Tour complete and two wins for EF Education First. On Thursday’s stage 2 it was Michael Woods that took victory, beating Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) in a two-up sprint into Churchill.
The pair got clear of a reduced peloton on the final climb of the day, with Woods cresting the gravel ascent alone before being joined by Porte on the following descent, 10km from the finish. Woods got the jump on Porte to take out the stage by a few bike lengths.
Woods now leads the race overall, four seconds ahead of Porte. Kenny Elissonde (Sky) sits third overall, at 27 seconds, after also finishing third on the stage.
“I think this bodes well for the team,” Woods said of his GC chances from here. “We came in with the goal of winning this race and winning some stages and we’ve already checked the stage wins off the list and now it’s just trying to hold on for that GC.”
Three stages remain in the men’s Sun Tour, including Saturday’s queen stage which features four laps of the steep 3km climb up Arthurs Seat.
Follow the link for full results from stage 2 of the 2019 Jayco Herald Sun Tour.
Kennedy wins final stage and overall at Sun Tour
Lucy Kennedy (Mitchelton-Scott) has snagged the biggest win of her young cycling career, taking out the women’s Herald Sun Tour with victory on Thursday’s final stage.
On the last climb of the day Kennedy’s teammate Amanda Spratt was leading the race solo, while Kennedy sat on the wheel of chaser (and defending champion) Brodie Chapman (Tibco-SVB). Kennedy attacked Chapman, bridged to Spratt with 13.6km to go, then kept going on her own, descending to victory in Churchill.
The win comes less than a week after Kennedy finished second at Cadel’s Race, having led solo into the closing kilometres before being caught by eventual winner Arlenis Sierra.
“Once I was off the front this time there was no way I was going to let anyone catch me,” said Kennedy of her win on Thursday. “It’s a really nice way to finish the last race in Australia for the summer so I’ll head off to Europe on a good feeling.”
Chapman caught Spratt near the top of the final climb and the pair descended to the finish together where Spratt won the sprint to take second overall. Chapman took third on the stage and overall.
Follow the link for full results from stage 2 of the 2019 women’s Sun Tour.
Landa breaks collarbone at first race of the season
Spaniard Mikel Landa crashed and broke his collarbone Thursday at Trofeo Ses Salines, Campos, Porreres, Felanitx — the first event of Challenge Mallorca, a unique event comprised of four UCI 1.1 one-day races running through February 3.
The Basque climber was involved in a pileup, 15km from the Puig de Sant Salvador uphill finish, and will require surgery to repair his right clavicle. Another rider, Lotto-Soudal’s Rasmus Iversen — riding in his first professional race — also broke his collarbone in the crash after riding 140km in a breakaway that had just been reeled in.
Landa’s teammate, world champion Alejandro Valverde, kicked off his 2019 season with a fourth-place finish behind winner Jesús Herrada (Cofidis).
Rest day at Vuelta a San Juan
There was no racing Thursday at the Vuelta a San Juan, which took a rest day before Friday’s climb to the summit of Alto Colorado. Julien Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) leads the race by eight seconds ahead of Fernando Gaviria (Team UAE Emirates).
Amgen Tour of California route details confirmed
In December, Amgen Tour of California organizers AEG announced the host cities for the 2019 event; on Thursday, they confirmed the route details of the upcoming event, held in May.
The men’s seven-stage race will feature five expected field sprints, two uphill finishes — South Lake Tahoe and Mt. Baldy — and no time trial. The women’s three-stage race will likely see two field sprints that bookend the Stage 2 finish atop Mt. Baldy.
A look at the Cyclocross World Championship course in Denmark
The Cyclocross World Championships will be held this weekend in the small fishing village of Bogense, Denmark. Here’s a look at the course the riders will be facing.
Shimano releases limited-edition Aurora S-Phyre shoes
Shimano has announced a limited edition “Aurora” version of its S-Phyre RC901 shoes. These shoes were recently seen on the feet of Jumbo-Visma riders at the Santos Tour Down Under.
Named after the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, the shoes shimmer various shades of blue, purple and turquoise. Matching S-Phyre R eyewear will be available in specific markets, including the USA (but not Australia).
Numbers are extremely limited, with just “a few hundred” across North America and only 30 pairs in Australia. The shoes are expected to be available within the next couple of weeks and pricing will be the same as the standard colour options.
In case you missed it…
Feature Image: Nairo Quintana (left) and Julian Alaphilippe (in white) are pictured in the peloton, crossing a stream on Stage 4 of the 2019 Vuelta a San Juan. Photo: Cor Vos.