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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
A report says Sky may be saved by an American millionaire, Paris-Nice has a new climb, and Specialized has issued a large recall on its endurance bikes. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: A US millionaire linked to Team Sky
A story in Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that an unnamed US-based millionaire could step in and purchase Tour Racing Limited, the management company behind Team Sky, and provide funding for the team when Sky pulls out as a sponsor at the end of 2019.
Details are sparse within La Gazzetta’s report. Importantly, it does claim that Sky and its new owner Comcast could continue fund 70% of the team’s budget into 2020 and 2021. That would buy Dave Brailsford much needed time to find a new sponsor.
Team Sky announced in December that its title sponsor, which also owns the team, will depart at the end of 2019. Experts in sports sponsorship described the team’s longtime sponsor, which provided the team with a budget far larger than most of its competitors, as “an anomaly,” and predicted that Dave Brailsford would struggle to find a similarly large source of funding.
This week’s report is not the first rumour surrounding Team Sky’s future. Silvan Adams, the Canadian billionaire behind the Israel Cycling Academy team, has been linked to a potential merger with Sky. Tim Kay, who is behind a potential Chinese team, also indicated to Cyclingnews that he would be interested in a merger with Dave Brailsford’s program. Team Sky has not commented on the reports.
The Italian paper also published a dispatch claiming that Geraint Thomas may add the Giro d’Italia to his race program. Thomas and his team had previously announced that the Welshman would join Chris Froome in focusing on the Tour de France, while Egan Bernal would tackle the Giro.
Brailsford doesn’t have long to establish a secure future of his team. If funding isn’t established by the middle of the year, key riders are likely to begin discussions with other teams. Sky recently put Bernal on a five-year deal and Thomas recently signed through 2021. Sky has indicated that all riders will be “properly looked after,” regardless of the outcome of the team’s sponsor search.
Paris-Nice announces route, with a new climb
Paris-Nice will make its usual southeasterly track from the 10th to the 17th of March, beginning in Saint-Germain En Laye and ending in Nice. The latter half of the race hits the mountains, highlighted by the category 1 Col de Turini, a new climb for the race that has been used three times in the Tour de France.
The race will likely be decided by Turini, which is 15km long and averages 7.3% and features an irregular profile, with multiple steep sections over 10%. A 25km time trial in the middle of the week will also affect the GC.
Riders seeking a climbing test are sure to choose Paris-Nice over Tirreno-Adriatico this year. The two concurrent stage races generally split the GC field, but Tirreno is without a major mountain stage this year.
Paris-Nice 2019 route:
Stage 1: Saint-Germain-en-Laye – Saint-Germain-en-Laye (138,5 km)
Stage 2: Les Breviaires – Bellegarde (163,5 km)
Stage 3: Cepoy – Moulins-Yzeures (200 km)
Stage 4: Vichy-Pélussin (210.5 km)
Stage 5: Barbentane-Barbentane (25.5 km, individual time trial)
Stage 6: Peynier-Brignoles (176,5 km)
Stage 7: Nice – Col de Turini (181,5 km)
Stage 8: Nice-Nice (110 km)
Elisa Longo Borghini leads Trek at TDU
The new Trek-Segafredo women’s team will take its first start at the Tour Down Under. The team brought a combination of climbers (Tayler Wiles, Ruth Winder, and Longo Borghini) and sprinters (Lauretta Hanson, Lotta Lepisto, and Letizia Paternoster) to Australia.
The general classification is likely to hinge on stage 2 and Mengler Hill. The new team hopes it will be working as a unit by then.
“We already had a training camp together so we know each other and we’ve been riding together here as well, that definitely helps,” Longo Borghini said. “Once we start racing together, I am sure we will be even more homogenous. I am confident all will turn out well. I feel very well surrounded by my teammates, we have a good atmosphere and that’s the most important thing to race well together, as a team.”
Tour of Utah announces route, including four ski resorts
The Tour of Utah, billing itself as “America’s toughest stage race,” announced nine host cities for its 2019 edition, including four ski resorts.
The race will begin with a prologue at Snowbird on August 12 and will end August 18 in Park City. Details of each stage have not been released, but the road to Snowbird includes a six mile (9.6km) climb and the climb to Powder Mountain Resort is seven miles long (11km) with multiple pitches over 15%.
The 2019 Tour of Utah Route:
Prologue: Snowbird Resort
Stage 1: North Logan City
Stage 2: Brigham City to Powder Mountain Resort
Stage 3: Antelope Island State Park to North Salt Lake
Stage 4: Salt Lake City
Stage 5: Canyons Village at Park City Mountain
Stage 6: Park City
Tweet of the day
Specialized announces FutureShock recall
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a product recall yesterday for all Specialized bikes equipped with a FutureShock. At issue is the headset collar, which has been found to develop stress corrosion fractures during the course of normal use.
At this stage, this recall affects all Roubaix, Ruby, Diverge, and Sirrus bikes sold between 1 September 2016 and 31 December 2018. Owners are advised to stop riding their bikes immediately and to visit their nearest Specialized retailer for a free replacement collar.
The U.S. recall notice can be found here.
In case you missed it …
15 reasons to be excited about the 2019 race season
Mountain bikers on the road. The WorldTour debut of a future star. Alternative events. Intra-squad rivalry. The return of a world champion. What follows is a 2019 season preview of sorts, exploring 15 different subjects, stories, and subplots of the upcoming mens’s and women’s racing calendars. The list could have been twice as long. I thought about doing a “Top 19 in 2019” list, but that just seemed too cheeky.