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Welcome to your Daily News Digest. Here’s what’s happening today:
Adrien Costa has a philosophical post-accident outlook, Team Sky are reportedly looking to Colombia for sponsorship, there’s a team squeeze at the Tour de France and Hodeg wins at home. Those stories and more in today’s Daily News Digest.
Story of the Day: Costa’s new path
Adrien Costa, a 21-year-old prodigy who raced with Hagen Bermans Axeon, stagiaired with Quickstep and then stepped away from the sport in 2017, has opened up about the ways his life has changed in a major interview with l’Equipe.
After giving up his place on the Axeon team roster, Costa worked to find balance in his life and concentrated on his love of the outdoors. But in July 2018, in a climbing accident, he was trapped under a rock and ultimately lost his lower leg as a result.
“When I was stuck between the rocks, I realised that it was the tranquility that was going to save me – that I had to give in to the situation because, for the first time in my life, I found myself completely helpless,” Costa told l’Equipe.
“In English, we call it letting go. It allowed me to get out of my body and endure the hours of suffering, uncertainty and waiting. Afterwards, at the hospital, it was this incredible chain of people helping me that allowed me to see the beauty of life and allowed me to keep hoping, in particular.”
Within a month of his accident, Costa worked to return to physical activity, and was soon back climbing and riding.
Costa is currently studying psychology at the University of Bend, Oregon. “I just know that I’d like to do something that could help others,” he told l’Equipe. “I realise that I have a big responsibility to make the most of this second chance. I feel more connected, and connected to the world around me, natural and human, and that inspires me to give back something beautiful and lasting to this world.”
Quote of the day
“100%. My next race is Het Nieuwsblad, so I’m going right into it, right into Belgium, and I’m excited. Everybody says this every year, but I think I’m coming into this year, at least for me personally, much more comfortable with where I am and what I’m doing.”
-Taylor Phinney, on whether his season is focused on Paris-Roubaix.
Beauty of Cycling
Cycling’s more than just a sport or an activity. It’s the bikes you ride, the people you meet, and the places you see. (The cold, cold places…)
Team Sky look to Colombia
Team Sky’s search for sponsorship continues this week, with Dave Brailsford reportedly meeting with the Colombian government to discuss the possibility of a deal. According to El Espectador, Brailsford will meet with Colombian president Ivan Duque and head of the sport ministry, Ernesto Lucena.
Lucena told the newspaper that their dream is for a WorldTour Colombian team – effectively switching Team Sky from a British team to a Colombian one. In this scenario, the team’s substantial budget would likely be made up by several multinational sponsors.
Brailsford hasn’t specifically addressed the rumours, but did talk up the depth of Colombian talent that the team has signed over recent years in a press conference before the Colombia Tour. Team Sky’s marquee Colombian signings have included Rigoberto Urán (now EF Education First), Sebastián Henao, and young prodigies Egan Bernal and Ivan Sosa.
Hodeg takes win at home
The second stage of the Colombia Tour came down to a bunch sprint, with Colombian sprinter Alvaro Hodeg (Deceuninck-Quickstep) taking a comfortable stage win ahead of Martin Laas (Team Illuminate) and Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates).
Over a relatively flat stage, a long-range breakaway of six were on the move, with evergreen Spanish climber Oscar Sevilla sitting pretty as virtual GC leader. However, when the bunch began to organise for the sprint and UAE-Team Emirates massed at the front in a bid to set up the stage for Fernando Gaviria, the break was finally caught and a sprint finish assured. By virtue of his win, Hodeg moves into the race lead, taking the jersey off compatriot Rigoberto Uran (EF-Education First)
The six-stage race continues tomorrow with a slightly lumpier loop around Llanogrande, but the action will really heat up on stages five and six when the race hits the mountains.
Tour de France team squeeze
Competition for the wildcards at the Tour de France this year is particularly fierce, and Warren Barguil and his Arkea-Samsic team are feeling the pressure.
Last month, race organisers ASO announced that Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Cofidis had scored an invite to the Grande Boucle, leaving two spaces open to be announced at an unspecified later date. However, there are three strong candidates for these spots.
Arkea-Samsic, with Warren Barguil (a dual stage winner, KOM jersey winner and top ten finisher in 2017) and veteran sprinter Andre Greipel, are gunning for a place – and most years, would seem a guaranteed inclusion. However, they’re up against stiff competition this year in Direct Energie, who have signed Paris-Roubaix winner Niki Terpstra in a bid to bolster their chances, and Vital Concept, who have been on a recruitment spree, bringing popular French riders Pierre Rolland, Cyril Gautier and Arthur Vichot into the fold.
“This year, we have a unique situation, with very strong competition for the invitations,” said Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme. All three teams will head to the ASO-organised Paris-Nice in March, needing to impress to ensure their presence at the biggest race of the year.
U19 Paris-Roubaix under threat
The future of the U19 edition of Paris-Roubaix is looking shaky. Organiser John Malaise is suffering a funding shortfall of 10,000 Euro, and has told press that he will be unable to run the event if the deficit is not made up by the end of the month.
The race has been run since 2003, held on the morning of the same day as the main event. Although Malaise has as agreement with ASO allowing him to use the Paris-Roubaix name for the U19 event, there is no funding allocation from ASO.
Previous winners of the race include Geraint Thomas (2004), Mads Pedersen (2013) and Tom Pidcock (2017).
Kevin Pauwels announces retirement
Belgian cyclocross veteran Kevin Pauwels has called time on his career, citing back issues and his age as reasons for stepping away from the sport. In an interview with Wielerflits prior to the World Championships, he also voiced his frustration about missing selection for Worlds.
Pauwels has had a long and impressive career by any measure, claiming rainbow jerseys at both U19 and U23 level and competing at a high level since. His most recent wins came this season – in Hasselt and Zonnebeke – and were notable in that they denied Mathieu van der Poel, who was more or less unstoppable throughout the season.
Although undoubtedly one of the most prestigious cyclocross riders of his generation, Pauwels had the misfortune to race through Sven Nys’ dominant reign, also coming up against Zdenek Stybar. Following this, Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel arrived on the scene, leaving Pauwels with a strong palmares but one that perhaps didn’t fully reflect the depth of his talent.
Tweet of the day
Normal. Very very normal thing.
Zwift announce national championships
Following a successful first edition in 2018, Zwift have announced they’ll be holding a 2019 National Championships on February 24-25.
“The course selected to host the 2019 Zwift National Championships is Watopia’s 18.4 mile (29.8km) Figure 8 Loop. Both Men’s and Women’s races will complete two laps of the rolling course with a race distance, including run-in, of 36.5 miles (58.8km) and 1535ft (468m) of climbing,” Zwift announced. “Races will be staged across multiple time zones, with individual country championship titles available based on each champion’s race license.”
There are 14 eligible countries – all from the northern hemisphere – with the southern hemisphere national champs to come later in the year.
Find out more at Zwift.
Happy Birthday to …
José Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin) and twin brother Domingos Gonçalves (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), who turn the big 3-0.
Jaco Venter (32), South African national road race champion in 2016.
Freddy Maertens (67), who across his illustrious career won 15 stages at the Tour, 13 stages at the Vuelta, 8 stages at the Giro, two World Championships and the GC at the 1977 Vuelta a España.
In case you missed it …
Feature Image: Hagens Berman Axeon meet for their 2019 training camp in the Ozarks. Photo: Davey Wilson.